While I don’t always see eye-to-eye with my Patheos colleague David French, I was especially intrigued by a recent column he wrote titled “Yes, There is Evidence That God Exists.”
Fully expecting it to be chock-full of Biblical quotes, French instead told a compelling personal story about how he was once diagnosed with an incurable disease. After months of unsuccessful treatment, a friend called one day to tell him that during a prayer session the Lord “told me you were healed”. French was highly skeptical, but sure enough the next morning he was feeling better and within days all traces of his illness and its symptoms had disappeared.
I also have a story to tell about evidence that God exists—and it is also based on a true personal story. It is a story so freaky and haunting that I told no one about it for seven years, a silence I broke a few weeks ago for the first time.
I live in a small town on the Jersey Shore where I run on a regular basis. Seven summers ago my young daughter had just learned to ride her bike and would sometimes accompany me on my morning jog. Since she was new to the bike and was still learning the rules of the road, I kept a close eye on her, warning her when to stop and to keep out of the way of oncoming traffic.
Then, one morning she got away from me.
We were coming up a short hill at the top of which we would be making a left turn onto what passes for the main street in town. There is a wide shoulder there, so normally you can make the left and be far clear of any oncoming traffic. Only on this day, there was a large moving truck parked on the shoulder.
Coming up the hill, my daughter had a sudden burst of energy and raced ahead of me. Even though I yelled for her to stop, she pedaled onward making the left turn as she usually did until she was out of sight behind the moving truck. A split-second later a car driven by an elderly man passed by at a high rate of speed in the very lane of traffic she was now in.
I sprinted the next few steps to see beyond the moving truck, terrified of what I might find, my heart now jumping out of my chest. I could not imagine how she could have avoided being hit by the speeding car. But there she was, sitting on her bike, a few feet onto the road, her head turned toward me. She was fine. But what she said next shook me to my core: “Am I dead?”
I gave her a hug, told her no, and we headed home. I was so shaken by the event that I told no one, not even my wife. I had a few sleepless nights after that, wondering just what had happened. Had she found a sliver of space between the moving truck and oncoming car and avoided being hit? Still, even if that was the case, it does not explain her question to me. “Am I dead?”
Several years have passed and my daughter is now a teenager. A couple of weeks ago, I told her about this event—it was the first time I had mentioned it to anybody since that day. She had absolutely no recollection of any of it, not the near-miss or the question she had posed to me, but I can tell you for sure that it happened.
Over the years, I have tried to come up with theories as to what happened that day. One is the Many Worlds Theory that posits that reality is a “many-branched tree” where every possible outcome of an event happens. In one universe, my daughter is struck by the car. But mercifully in the world I am aware of, she came through unscathed though she had some inkling of this alternate reality—explaining why she had asked me that haunting question.
Still I wonder, on that day, at that moment, had the Divine interceded here on earth, saving one life and preventing the ruination of my own? Is this not a sign of the sacred in our midst? If this is not a sign of God making his presence known, than what is?