A Forbes article offered an example of the expression of a “one in a million chance” that made me smile, “If you earn less than $200,000 annually and don’t attach Schedules C or E to your tax return, statistically speaking, you have a better chance of being abducted by aliens or dating Taylor Swift than being audited.” Over the 4thof July weekend we had one of those one in a million, small world, chance encounters that are as statistically likely as being abducted by aliens.
We went to Hood River, Oregon for a wedding and explored one of my favorite areas, the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area known for its high concentration of waterfalls, with over 90 on the Oregon side alone. With some extra time, we took the short hike to Bridal Veil Falls. The parking lot was nearly empty when we arrived and we were rewarded with a quiet, beautiful hike among moss covered trees that culminated with a spectacular view of the waterfall.
On our hike back to the car we stopped for a moment to allow other hikers pass us by. When someone called out my name, I turned around and had no idea who it was. When they told us their names, I immediately knew them as a couple we had known 40 years earlier when we lived in Aspen, CO. They live in Nebraska, we in Utah and we met on a secluded trail in Oregon. What are the chances?
I asked them how they recognized us and they said it was from a picture that I included in a bi-annual mailing I send to those interested in our ministry. Considering this “chance encounter” I was reminded of the Psalmist’s question, “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?” (Psalm 8:3-4)
Have you wondered something similar? In considering how vast the world is we may ask, “How can the Lord be mindful of me, I’m only one in 8 billion?” While the Psalms don’t answer this question, they do declare truths that we can rest in, “I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence! If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there. If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me. I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night— but even in darkness I cannot hide from you. To you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to you.” (Psalm 139:7-12)
Is this something that you need to hear? It is important for us to hear and remember that no matter where our lives may take us, be it to a dark place of sin or the furthest corner of the earth, the Lord is there. Again, such knowledge can cause me to wonder, “Who am I that the Lord should know my name?” Depending on the day, we may answer by playing one of two videos. Either the “Look-at-me” reel showing all the good that I have done, or the “Woe is me” reel with all the lowlights. But the Lord already knows both and sent Christ to give us life not because we have merited it but because of His grace and mercy!
We can feel lost in the truth of Isaiah’s words, “We are constant sinners; how can people like us be saved? We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind.” (Isaiah 64:5-6) But as we hear these words we can find rest in Paul’s words, “God proves his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
Our friends recognized us because they knew our faces. They were not looking for us as they traveled, but being mindful of other travelers, they recognized us. This “one in a million” encounter reminds me that not only does the Lord fully know us but that He knows our face and promises to always be with those who put their hope in Him, no matter what.