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By Chance

Kent and I spent 15 years of our lives and our children’s lives building a manufacturing business. That business resulted in part from a chance meeting that still astounds me forty years later.

In the early 1980s, Kent wrote a business plan for an instrumentation company he hoped to form. We had already put in all of our savings and all the proceeds from the sale of my grandma’s theater organ which I had inherited. (And Kent had loved that organ!) It was far from enough to get the business off the ground. Could we find a suitable investor? The money we needed was a lot to us but not enough to be of interest to investment firms.

In the midst of this, we attended the annual meeting of the American Scientific Affiliation (ASA) in southern California. The ASA is a Christian organization of scientists and people in science-related disciplines. On the last evening, we offered to carpool other attendees to the final dinner about half an hour away. We pulled our car around to the front of the hotel and were told that everyone who needed a ride was already in a car, except for one gentleman (John) who had gone back to his room for a jacket.

We found some amazing connections on the car ride. Kent and John had similar understandings of the relationship of science and faith. They shared an alma mater, where they had gotten graduate degrees, Kent in engineering and John in business. And John had some family money to invest and a circle of friends and family who might like to do so as well. By the time we arrived at the dinner venue, we knew all this.

With all these amazing connections going on, God provided one more just for me.

John was a cattle rancher as well as a businessman. Some of those cattle, of the Santa Gertrudis variety, a very pretty, auburn red colored kind of beef cow, were purchased from Carmel Valley Ranch up north. The ranch manager was a man named Sam. It chanced to be that Sam and his wife, Margaret were my friends all during my childhood.

My dad, a CPA for a real estate development company, used to visit Carmel Ranch once a month to go over the books. He always brought his family along. My mom and my sister and I roved the golden hills and oak studded canyons on horseback, along with Margaret, while the men worked. Then when the books were done, we took a jeep ride with Sam at the wheel, checking the fences and the salt licks and admiring the cattle and the beautiful terrain. We all loved those ranch days. But like Jackie Paper, who grew up and came no more to see Puff, the magic dragon, I grew up, got married and moved away.

So, fourteen years later - Sam! What are the chances I’d meet someone who knew him?

What are the chances that John, who would mean so much to our future, had forgotten his jacket and ended up in our car for 30 minutes?

I got started thinking about all this because I was reading the book of Ruth and came across this phrase: “her chance chanced upon” in literal rendering of the Hebrew "she happened upon" in Ruth 2:3. Ruth was a young widow, a foreigner in her mother-in-law Naomi’s land, and worked to support herself by picking up bits of leftover grain in the barley and wheat fields all day. On the very first day, “her chance chanced upon” the fields of a man with the legal right and obligation to pull Ruth and her mother-in-law up out of their widowed poverty. He also chanced to be no ordinary man, but a man who blessed everyone around him. Stemming from this chance, Ruth, the immigrant, is David’s great-grandmother and an ancestor of Jesus. (Please read the book of Ruth!)

When you say “by chance”, people try to think of causes in keeping with their world view like “it’s karma” or “thank the universe”. But, for us, God is the maker of chances. We who follow the Lord Jesus see the hand of our God in these marvels.

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