Monday, January 30, 2012

God the Locksmith

Last night I was installing a lock for a customer when I had help from God.

They had given me an old lock that they had taken off of their front door asked me to install it on the back door. The back door already had a (broken) lock, so it was just a matter of swapping the broken one for the good one. Normally it’s a quick job, but this lock was giving me trouble. I just couldn’t get it to work properly. Either the inside part worked, or the outside part, but they wouldn’t both work at the same time. After fiddling with it for a half hour, I was ready to give up. My hand was hurting from holding the two halves of the lock together around the edge of the door, and I had run out of ideas. The quote from Einstein that “insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results” was running through my head.

I figured I would leave the working lock in the door to cover the holes and go tell them that it was beyond my skill level. As I tightened the screws that held the lock in place, I thought that a believer might be praying for God’s help at this point. How nice it would be if there was a God to reach down for me and miraculously make the lock work! Once the lock was in place, I decided to try it one more time, on the off chance that I’d finally gotten it right. Surprisingly, it worked!

So, did I get help from God? Or is it just a coincidence: as a result of the culture I grew up in and my penchant for theological musings, I happened to be thinking about God miraculously helping me just before I accidentally got the lock’s mechanism in the right configuration?

On the one hand, were someone to tell me that they base their religious beliefs on experiences like the one above, I would dismiss it as ridiculously weak. We are conditioned to appeal to God in nearly every situation. Inevitably some of the time things will happen to work out, and it will be attributed to God. On the other hand, an experience like this one is pretty powerful. I can see why a believer would see discounting it as perverse. Logic is one thing; direct experience is another. For someone who is used to seeing the Divine in the world (and who isn’t inclined to philosophically examine every event in their lives), it seems obvious that only a terribly misguided or evil person would ignore such direct experiential evidence of God.