One of my favourite parts of 2019 so far is that I got to hang with one of my closest friends, Ryan, more than once in a calendar year. Ever since I left Malaysia 11 years ago, Ryan and I only got to see each other like twice a year max. We used to be super amazing at keeping in touch via email.
This year, we’ve seen each other more than 3 times. This is a new record.
Ryan and I are used to catching up 6 months to a year’s worth of content in one hang, so they’re all mostly summaries without going into details. But this round, we got to experience the mundane day-to-day life together that we haven’t done since we were 12.
I noticed that every time we hung out, Ryan, would always repeat his firm belief that ‘there is no such thing as coincidences‘. He would either reference it in the context of a massive life happening like getting a new job from an old contact or his car story, or something as seemingly insignificant as me and him craving to watch Detective Pikachu for the second time on the same day.
That phrase stuck with me because I heard it so much in 2019, but also because Ryan’s either completely right or he’s totally wrong.
I’d like to believe Ryan is completely right, because if he’s totally wrong, then there too much room for error for purely random luck.
If there is a lot of room for error when it comes to sequences of events, then it would mean that my chaotic ever-changing life is actually just a mess.
Before I left for LA, I decided to spend time with my dad in Hong Kong. I had a choice to leave for LA on the weekend to have more time to get used to driving and LA in general. But leaving on Saturday would mean not actually spending any quality time with my dad. It’s going to be a long 2 months without any family time, plus the rest of my family was in London, so why not spend more quality father and daughter time because that means steak nights?
On Saturday, my dad and I went into Central because I had a meeting at 3pm, so we planned our day around that. My dad decided to hang in his office while I had my meeting because it’s not ironically larger than our living room.
Anyway, I hung out at his office after so that I could drink lime sparkling water. After an hour of hanging around a stuffy-ish office, my dad and I finally decided to go for a quick dinner with Vietnamese food a few blocks down.
As we walked towards food (more like my dad storming ahead to avoid the Central weekend crowd), I spotted a walking stick out of the corner of my eye. I thought: what are the odds that it would be the only person I know that would need a walking stick?
I turned around and basically screamed out the names of my childhood family neighbours from Malaysia who moved to New Zealand. The aunty is blind, hence the walking stick, and she was guided by her ever-loving husband. The last place I expected to bump into them was the centre of Hong Kong on a steep hill.
Instead of dinner, I had ice cream and I got to catch up with one of my faves from my childhood. The extent of ‘fave’ is evident by the whole theatre piece I created in high school based on my piecemeal knowledge of the aunty’s story. And apparently, I wasn’t the only one inspired by her because here’s a feature documentary made on her story.
Turns out the uncle and aunty were in town because they both have jobs that took them traveling the world. The husband thought he would be the only one with a job after they moved back to Malaysia; but it turns out that the company based in Singapore decided to offer them both jobs!
That story was not the only miraculous story shared over the impromptu catch-up.
I’ve always looked up to this aunty and uncle because of their steadfast devotion to each other, and more importantly, their faith.
Sure, they’re Catholic and not Protestant, and I remember how, growing up, there were grown-ups telling me that Catholics missed the heart of Jesus and were not true ‘Christians’. But since I was a kid, I’ve always known they know Jesus more intimately than many ‘Christians’ because every single time I talk to this aunty and uncle, I see Jesus’ love and miracles overflowing through their words and their actions.
Bumping into them could’ve just been pure coincidence – the world’s small, my family’s well-connected.
But when you believe in God and His perfect design over everything, even small moments like these, small conversations are soul-soothing and life-changing.
That’s just one small weekend. Now if we zoom out to a larger perspective of my life.
I was born in Hong Kong, and now my parents are based in Hong Kong. I’ve lived in Beijing during my teenage years, and it was after the 2008 Olympics so I got to tangibly experience the rise of China; I also interned in Beijing for a summer. I first fell in love with Jesus in SF, and it remains to be my favourite cities in the world.
After a bunch of job offers that I just couldn’t get myself to say yes to, an offer came through that would base me in Hong Kong, but also take me to Beijing and SF.
Coincidence? I think not. God’s just that good.
I’ve only lived for almost 24 years on this earth and it’s been amazing to see how all the details within those 24 years fall together for His story.
From my point of view, I’m glad that Ryan’s right. Knowing that God’s taking care of every little thing to the big out-of-control decisions keeps me sane, at peace, and happy.
Because when I know and believe that God’s the one orchestrating and designing the sequence of events, it makes the painful moments meaningful and the triumphant moments glorious.
It’s a win-win situation, both for me and for God.
If you zoom out, you see a refracted version God’s picture. Just like you can’t look directly into the sun, you know that the light’s all around you, and sometimes the white light diverges into a multitude of colours.
If you zone in on one moment, you see God’s in all the details. You just have to be willing to see Him.