It was a blisteringly hot day and Meg, Clare and Alice (names changed) decided to go for an ice cream. Thus they drove in the direction of the supermarket freezer – or at least that was the plan. By virtue of habit, Meg accidentally drove into the station car park opposite that of the supermarket and so had to backtrack.
On reaching their destination, they spotted a man lying on the ground. Meg and Clare had been nurses and – once a nurse, always a nurse – they raced across to him only to find that a young lady had arrived on the scene seconds earlier. A highly skilled dental nurse, she was already dealing with the evidently unconscious man.
An ambulance had been called and while awaiting its arrival, the little group were surprised to receive the further assistance of a medical student, quickly followed by two surgeons who came to offer their services to the growing band of helpers. A supermarket customer walking to his car crossed over to the group to give them his bottle of water.
Two staff members from the supermarket then arrived, pushing two tall trolleys to where the man lay unprotected from the hot sun. They tore open a brand new barbeque cover to make a sunshade and also supplied a large bag of ice to cool him down.
As the gentleman began to recover, the dental nurse took such a complete medical history that, when the ambulance crew appeared, all they had to do was to get the stretcher and take him to hospital.
It was a thought-provoking series of events. If Meg hadn’t driven into the train station by mistake, they would have been inside the supermarket sooner, and would not have seen or have been able to assist the man. Instead of Meg’s mistake being just an inconvenience, God had used it to help someone.
All of the helpers – the three nurses, two surgeons, medical student, two supermarket staff and the man offering the bottle of water – could easily have been somewhere else that Saturday afternoon.
It wasn’t a coincidence, it was without a doubt our good God rallying his troops to look after the gentleman. It was a God-incidence.
God is so perfectly involved in the minutiae of our lives, and cares for us with a love that we can hardly begin to imagine, and which we are often too busy to even notice. My late parish priest, Canon James B Mullan, used to say: ‘God didn’t have to create us, as creating us could not add to His greatness for He was great already. He created each one of us as a special gift for himself.’
It stands to reason that, having created us for Himself, God is not going to abandon us but is deeply concerned about us as individuals, and not simply as a ‘job lot’.
In the greater scheme of things, the above account isn’t massively newsworthy. It won’t make Sky News, local radio or feature in the tabloids; it is simply a story about the help afforded to just one sick man, and about the people involved who were there for him.
How very different the story is when seen through the eyes of our faith. It becomes instead a beautiful testimony to the love, kindness and concern that Our Father in heaven has for his beloved children. As St Augustine observed: ‘God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.’