Stacking Coincidences

People are generally terrible at probability.  Take the lottery, for example.  Or for a less cynical example, consider sports superstitions.  We can far too often look at some coincidence and draw immensely bad conclusions.  There are some times when there’s too much coincidence to be a coincidence.

I’m going for a bike ride tomorrow.  That probably isn’t news.  It might be a little more interesting to note that while the Great Deer Chase race is going on in Calumet, I won’t be racing there.  I will pre-ride the course to check the course markings.  But I won’t be racing.  I really felt convicted this year to volunteer at this race.  Plus, I just picked up my new bike from the shop this morning.  I’ve done dumb things in the past, but racing on a bike I’ve basically never ridden didn’t seem like one of my better ideas.

Later, I’ll probably go for a ride in Copper Harbor. But I won’t be going alone.

At the end of July, my wife and I rode Aspen Park in Gaylord, to help her get ready for her first (and probably only) race tomorrow.  Because my bike broke so long ago, I didn’t have a mountain bike.  I put on my 34c knobbies and rode my ‘cross bike.  That was unusual enough to another rider that he commented on it.  Turns out he’s bringing his son up to MTU for his freshman year.  I volunteered to show him around a bit.  We’ll probably open up our home to his son if he wants. Should be fun to have a riding partner, even for a day.

But let’s trace all that back.  Why can I go for a ride with this guy?  It just happens I’m not racing.  Why am I not racing?  Well, it just happens that my bike broke.  Why am I riding with him in the first place? It just happens that this guy from Traverse City saw me in the trailhead parking at a trail 350 miles from my home.  Why did he notice me? Because I just happened to be riding a ‘cross bike on mountain bike trails.  Why was I riding a ‘cross bike? It just happens my mountain bike broke.

So an immense chain of improbable “coincidences” stack up, starting from one of my biggest disappointments of my bike racing career.

As a Christian, you long to hear the voice of God, telling you what His will is.  You pray, you read, you talk with others — all in search of clear leading. Sometimes He stacks so many coincidences up, you throw up your hands and say, “I get it!”

One last note about that probability stuff.  The Old Testament is full of prophecies about Messiah, and has been shown to be a reliable source of prophecy on other topics.  The probability of “accidentally” fulfilling all of those prophecies is 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000.  You don’t have to be good at probability to know that’s nearly impossible.

So which makes more sense?  That the One who invented probability set events into motion (including my ride tomorrow) or crazy, random happenstance? I know which way I’m betting (and the odds at the heavenly casino are pretty good).


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