Sunday, September 21, 2008

I Don't Believe in Coincidence (Part One)

There is a story I feel compelled to tell. It is not my story, but one that captured my attention in a way that defies any notion of coincidence. For the past few weeks, I have struggled over and questioned the inadequacy of the ordinary words I could offer on behalf of an extraordinary account and it is my sincere hope that my attempt to do so will be worthy.

On the San Antonio flight traveling to a Living Proof event with good friends, I exchanged glances with a young girl on the plane on more than one occasion. I didn’t know the girl, and she didn’t know me, but there was a sense of familiarity I couldn’t quite place. After the flight landed in Texas, this same girl approached our group of four and inquired if we were attending the conference led by Beth Moore. We answered in the affirmative, engaging in small talk as each of us retrieved our luggage. She was from Kentucky and traveling alone but meeting up with friends later, so the five of us shared a taxi ride to our separate hotels. We arrived to our destination, said goodbye to our new friend, not really expecting to see her again.

Later that night, we joyfully lined up at the Alamodome along with thousands of other excited women, positioning ourselves to burst through the doors when they opened, hoping to secure a good seat among the ten thousand available. We managed to grab four seats together in a section that offered a great view and most importantly, easy access to the bathrooms. Diet coke consumption would be at an all time high over the next twenty-four hours, and any “accident” would only dampen our experience. (Get it? DAMPEN? Never mind.)

I sat down with my friends and looked to my left. Surprisingly the girl we met earlier was sitting directly next to me. We talked a bit, but then the music began, signaling the start of the night’s events. After it was over, we left for our hotel to get much needed rest for the full schedule planned the next day.

The following morning, we again lined up outside of the Alamodome. The doors opened, and thousands of women ran like gazelles in wobbly wedge high heels to reserve good seating. As I grabbed my seat, I noticed that the one next to me had a purse and a Bible laying claim to that particular chair. A few moments later, the same girl from the night before plopped down next to me, glancing at me with the same confounded expression I offered her.

This girl was on my same plane, shared a taxi, and among ten thousand women, ended up sitting directly next to me – TWICE.

The concurrent circumstances could not be coincidental and I was about to find out why.

My traveling companion Emmy and I engaged in deeper conversation with this girl and discovered that she was a survivor of a horrific school shooting. As a freshman in high school, this young girl was praying with an assembly of students in the foyer of the school, gathered in a circle, hands clasped and heads bowed, when an armed young man entered the school and sprayed bullets upon this group deep in prayer.

The girl recounted turning to look at the gunman straight in the eye as he fired on the unsuspecting group of students, shooting from left to right and then back left again. Gunfire hit eight of the students, three of them fatally, one a paralytic for life. The girl that spoke to us miraculously escaped injury, but suffered emotional and spiritual damage that would follow her for the next ten years.

The event that would happen ten years later would stun her even more……

(2nd part tomorrow)

10 comments:

Lauren said...

Are you serious?!? That is just mean to leave me on the edge of my seat like this on a Sunday afternoon! It will not be coincidence (either) when I stalk you all night to get the rest of this story before tomorrow! Just kidding...I'm too tired. I will "tune in" tomorrow.

Joni said...

Lauren -
What a COINCIDENCE! Tiredness is one of the reasons I couldn't finish the story today. Too much late night football watching....

Mom of Eleven said...

J,
Love this story. I truly believe nothing is by coincidence. One day I will tell you about Theresa and Traci that we also sat by and how the next weekend at the beach I met their best friend from B'ham. Long story. . . but a goodie.
w

Emmy said...

I think about this story ALL the time! It still blows me away! Thanks for sharing it!

Miss seeing you! We will have to get together!

Emmy : )

Joni said...

Wendy and Emmy -
I still get chill bumps all over my head when I think of us listening to this sweet girl's story. Oh, I hope I do it justice....

Let's get together soon!

Not too old to learn said...

I heard a pastor speak one time and he would always say "what are the chances?" and we were to respond 100%. None of these things are a surprise to God.

Anonymous said...

Seriously-leaving us in the lurch-you haven't shared this at bible study-why????
Lauren

JMom said...

AGHGH! Finish!!!

laurie said...

That is so not nice to not finish!! When are you going to tell the rest??????? Fridays are no good, the girls don't have school--how about Thursday or Monday?

elizabeth said...

Like every good writer, you pulled me right in! More, more!!!

Can't wait to hear what happened.