Books open a world of coincidences



As I drove to the dentist last week, I got caught in a traffic jam caused by an early-morning wreck. I had left home plenty early -- I'm never late -- but after a while I began to worry.

Nervously, I scratched my head. Then I realized that people in other cars could see me. I also recalled a shampoo commercial years ago showing dandruff-infested people scratching their heads and subsequently being shunned by polite society.

I stopped scratching my head. I bit my nails instead.

That night, I wandered around my house, trying to think of something to write this column about.

Absentmindedly, I picked up a little notebook I used to carry around for recording ideas.

It was dated from January 1984 to June 1985. Flipping a couple of pages, I came across this entry from Feb. 1, 1984: "Dandruff commercial makes it impossible for me to scratch my head in public."

I had not opened the notebook since 1985, so that 26-year-old commercial must really have left an impression on me. It was either very good advertising or else I have long had hair issues.

I thought it odd to come across that entry the very day I had thought the same thing, but coincidences aren't that coincidental to my life.

Almost weekly, I open my 1,700-page Webster's dictionary to the exact page of the word I am looking up. The hair on the back of my neck (which has no dandruff, I would like to publicly state) stands up and moans "Wooooooo!" each time Webster's hands me the right page.

An even stranger occurrence took place last month. We received our new Sunday school books at church, and because I had to teach a week later, I immediately started researching the lesson. It was about the first chapter of 1 Thessalonians.

I sat at my duty desk in the church hallway and opened my study Bible. It fell to 1 Thessalonians 1.

That was a bit weird, I thought, considering there were 2,400 pages to choose from and I had not read that page before.

A bit frightened, I closed my Bible and opened a different version from Sunday school to provide more background for my teaching. I looked down at the page: 1 Thessalonians 1!

The next week at work, I was eating my leftovers when I decided to refer to the Gideons Bible on my desk. It opened to 1 Thessalonians 1.

Several nights later at home, I jotted down information for class from another Bible. Where did it open? If you said 1 Thessalonians 1, you would be correct.

Those occurrences made it difficult to concentrate on the actual lesson, which had nothing to do with coincidences -- so much so, in fact, that the next Sunday before class, I needed some last-minute study. I flipped open a church Bible. It didn't open to 1 Thessalonians 1, however.

I missed it by one page.

Different Bibles. Same page. Four times. Nearly five. What message was I missing? Just as important: How could I implement it into my lesson?

If those Bibles had opened to verses that enlightened and guided me, I would have understood. As it was, I already knew the book and chapter and about where to find them. Surely there was more to it than saving a few minutes of flipping pages.

If you can think of a greater purpose I missed, I wish you'd let me know. Coincidences can't always be coincidences. I'll be scratching my head until I hear from you.



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