The Pool Guy
October 4, 2010
Recently I have put my mind to acknowledging miracles and looking for them in every day life. The average reader will assume I’m doing this because I’m prone to believe in miracles and they would be wrong. I look for them because I’m prone not believe in them. It’s sort of like how I read as many scientific journal articles that mention missing links because I don’t believe in them. I’m hoping they prove me wrong, and I’m rooting for them just the same.
Part of how I will identify miracles, as opposed to just freak accidents, is to pray with specified complexity. If I ask God for a donut, I might be offered a donut by a colleague and wonder if it was a coincidence or a miracle, but if I pray that I get a custard filled chocolate glazed donut from a stranger in need of my help, the details go to rule out a happy accident. It still isn’t empirical evidence, but it helps assuage my skepticism. Anything that takes my skepticism down a notch is always a good thing because I’m got enough for two people, even if those two people were David Hume.
So my pool guy rings me at the back door. He never rings me at the back door. He hands me a pool thermostat trigger thingy and says, “I’ve had this part in my glove box for 8 months. Your heater went out, and given I had the part, I just tried to pop it in and it’s working fine.”
I’ve had my pool guy for seven years, and we’re good enough friends, but our conversation almost never goes to religion. That shows how crappy of a Christian I am, I suppose, but it gives me the credibility to say that he’s not one of those spooky kinds of guys. He’s looking down at my back door, looking for the right words to say, “God told me not to charge you for the thermostat trigger.”
All of the normal skeptical thoughts came to my mind where I instantly dismiss a supernatural event, credit it to his own guilty feelings, personal manipulation of my own religious experience or who-knows-what. Anything but the reason he gave me, right?
I reached for my wallet, “You don’t have to do this. I can pay, and I’ll credit your good intent as not actually charging me because God doesn’t want you to. This can be a tip.”
The pool guy looked almost angry, “I know, I already ran through every excuse I could and I felt justified in charging you and blowing off God telling me not to charge you. So I was about to charge you and God told me again not to charge you. So I’m not charging you.”
Neither of us would have made the mistake of thinking the pool guy did so out of generosity. And while I was happy to be spared being charged 200 bucks for the part plus my pool guy’s labor fee, it’s not like my life would have ended if he gave me the full bill. Before he left I told him my daughter’s lizard-saving miracle story. I wasn’t sure why I saw two weird miraculous events within two weeks but I thought it was at least my responsibility to share them.
My pool guy left and I didn’t know exactly what to think. I did take my pool guy at his word because I know him to be a normal, average guy who has never shared a supernatural event in seven years of knowing him. Why these two seemingly insignificant events? Why were they both at the pool? Why are these other people communicating with God and I’m just here to watch it happen?
I don’t have any of those answers. I do think that part of why we get mad at the idea of God doing miracles is that He never seems to do them in a rational order like we would want them. God doesn’t perform a miracle where there is the greatest need, or he would be all over Africa, or follow the fire department around saving everyone’s life. He doesn’t do the best thing, because there are better miracles that could be done.
For whatever reason I’m thinking about miracles of late, I can do the Pulp Fiction choice and either see a miracle like Jules or see a freak accident like Vincent. The end of their story arc will tell you that Vince was the none-too-good way to go. I’ll take the $200 bucks and thank God for it, then tell you about it.