In fall 2016, I was asked to write and deliver the eulogy of
a friend. As I reflected on my friend’s life and the part of it that
intersected my own, it occurred to me how full my life is with
people I would never have expected to encounter and how
many relationships I have forged with unlikely characters.
These relationships have meant much to me, have changed me
as a person, and have influenced the direction of my life.
The circumstances and backgrounds of my friend and me
were completely opposite. He was in his late eighties; I am in
my early thirties. He was talkative and outgoing; I am quiet and
reserved. He was from a rural Kentucky town; I am from a town
some three-and-a-half hours southwest in Tennesee. There was
no reason our paths should have ever crossed or that we would
grow as close as we did.
We never know who might enter our lives or when. I’ve heard
it called “providence” or “good fortune” or “our life’s path.” I am
not sure what I would call it. But the older I become, the more I
see the beauty and grace in the unexpected twists and turns life
takes, and the more I see God’s hand in it all. The little turning
points are the best — the ones we hardly notice until, distanced
from that moment in our lives, we look back and think, What if
that hadn’t happened? Where would I be? Who would I be?
The lives of many characters in scripture met at unexpected
and unpredictable moments — often setting the stage for God
to act in mighty and wondrous ways: Elijah and the angel,
Joshua and Rahab, Ruth and Boaz, Jesus and the first disciples,
Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch, and, as the cover art for this
issue depicts, Pharaoh’s daughter and Moses.
No one knows the shape his or her life will take. We do not
know what the journey from any one point in life to another will
look like, whom we will encounter along the way, or what unanticipated events will occur. A baby rescued from the bulrushes
by Pharaoh’s daughter led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt.
Who could have imagined it?