“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.”
Carol Anderson was a young widow whose husband had died of cancer at thirty-five. Bob Edwards was a young widower whose wife had been killed in a car accident at twenty-nine. Both marriages had been extremely happy, and both Carol and Bob were sure they would never love or marry again. After many lonely years of pain and suffering, they met at a church dinner and started courting. When they got engaged and then married, they told everyone “it was miraculous that that we found each other.” Their relationship was strong and loving. The only trouble spot in the marriage was that they had diametrically different opinions on what to do about the past.
Carol longed to bury it; Bob needed to explore it. Carol never wanted to talk about either of their previous marriages. Bob, on the other hand, was eager to know the minutest details of Carol’s life before they had met, and was hurt that Carol showed such a complete lack interest in his. “Why raise ghosts?” Carol would ask when Bob would persist with his gentle probing and soft inquiries. “Memory should be preserved, not obliterated,” he would reply.
Ten years later, Carol felt that their marriage was secure enough to withstand any assaults from the past. “Okay,” she told Bob one day, “I’m ready to talk.” She began telling Bob about her first marriage and pulled our several snapshot albums she had hidden from him all these years. “These are from our honeymoon,” she said, starting to leaf through the pages of one album. “We went to France. Oh…here we are at Lourdes.”
“You went to Lourdes?” Bob said with mild interest. “So did we.”
“Carol,” her husband asked tensely, “Who’s that couple in the background?”
“I have no idea,” she said. “Just as the photographer snapped the picture, a couple walked by and got caught by the shutter. I can see why you asked, though, thinking they were with us. In the picture, it does look as though they’re standing behind us, almost as if they’re posing, but it’s just an illusion.”
“You’re wrong, Carol,” Bob said slowly, “it wasn’t a mistake, it was providence. You see that couple in the background …is me and my first wife.”
Millions of people travel to Lourdes each year. What were the chances of Carol and Bob not only being at the same place at the same time but also “coincidentally” appearing together in a photo at the holy shrine? When the picture was taken, they were not connected to each other in any way – except in God’s plan.
Miracles do happen, but do not expect them to happen the way we want. God’s ways are not our ways as Carol and Bob realized in this story.