In Search of Better Stories

Did God Use A Fridge Door to Speak to My Son?

“I don’t know, son; twenty-six miles is a long way to go, especially if you haven’t trained for it.”

“I know, right, but coach thinks I can do it.”

     My fourteen-year-old’s call for advice came in late on Saturday night. The school’s running team had invited him to join them just two days before. They wanted him for the half-marathon. Darve had run a half in the summer, so the team knew he had it in him and could grind it out on short notice. But now, their marathon runner had pulled out at the last minute due to an ankle injury, and the coach was looking to Darve to fill the spot. A thirteen-mile race is one thing; a twenty-six-mile race is quite another. Hence the call.

“Darve, what do you think? Can you do it?”

“I think I can.”

“Well, son, there is definitely risk involved. If you haven’t trained properly, you could do serious damage to your joints, maybe get a stress fracture or something even worse. If you do this, you will have to try to listen to your body and stop if something isn’t feeling right, but on race day, I know stopping will be hard for you.”

“I know, so what should I do?”

“I don’t think I will answer that for you this time. It’s your body; it’s your decision. You’re going to have to make the call. Maybe pray to the Jesus about it. (Ever since Kims Convenience, we always say “the” Jesus)  Whatever you decide, I’ll support you.”

     Darve hung up the phone, undecided. But he took my advice and opted for prayer. In the hotel room in Victoria, he bowed his head and asked the Almighty for some guidance. As my son got up from his moment of supplication, his eyes landed on the mini-fridge door. From this small box of plastic, freon, and polyurethane, God, in burning bush fashion, seemed to be speaking directly to my son.

     The brand name of this little refrigerator carried with it the divine directive he needed. 

     The fridge was not a Frigidaire or a General Electric — It was a Marathon.

     Had God just spoken? Darve stared at the fridge for a long time. He blinked and pondered. Was something really cool happening? Was this a moment of Divine connection? Faith filled my son’s, tender heart. God had spoken — he would run the Marathon! He snapped a picture of the logo to remember the holy moment and went to find his coach to tell him he was in for the big run.

     The race required four hours and twenty-seven minutes of running for my son. He learned the hard way that he chafes when he runs long distances. Next time, he will have plenty of Vaseline on hand, but other than that, he was fine.

      My son’s faith in a God who cares about him enough to provide a little guiding light every now and then certainly was a powerful fuel source that pushed him forward mile after mile until the job was done. Faith does that.

     Days later, I ran this story by an agnostic psychologist I’m friends with. He was both fascinated and frustrated by the story. He spoke of hindsight bias. The story worked out; Darve didn’t break his leg, so God must have been guiding him. The sign from heaven only works after the fact, which means it’s not real. To him, these are games we humans play to help us direct our lives, but truthfully, we can only make decisions based on facts, and if we don’t have facts, we have to flip a coin and live with the consequences. For him, the facts are that a fourteen-year-old can’t make good decisions about what his body can handle, and the coach should be reprimanded for putting my son in a risky position. The fact of the matter is — No one should run a marathon unless they’ve adequately trained for it. 

     There are two stories to be believed: one that says God speaks and guides and helps us along the way and one that says no such guidance exists. Direction for our lives comes through our proper understanding of facts and our benefiting from the flukes life randomly spits out at us along the way.

     Which is the better story? The one my son believes, or the one my psychologist friend believes? I know which story is way more fun to write about!

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