How an atheist taught me to trust in God’s providence: A bizarre Christmas story
December 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – My wife Erin had hinted to me a few months prior to Christmas last year that she wanted an aloe vera plant for a present. And silly me had put off looking for one until the very end. So here I was, driving into our nearby small town in the middle of our harsh Canadian winter with its freezing temperatures and mountains of snow on a ‘mission impossible’ of trying to find a desert plant.
I was pretty sure my efforts would be futile. Gardening season was over months and months ago and the local economy could not support a greenhouse in the winter months that stocked exotic items like an aloe vera plant. The only kinds of green things likely to be found were poinsettias and Christmas trees. But I wanted to have the satisfaction of being able to tell my wife that I had looked everywhere for the plant and had not been able to find one.
As I was driving toward town musing about the unlikelihood of finding this plant, I was suddenly struck with the idea that I should ask God to help me find one.
“Heck, why not,” I thought. “God has done bigger things than this. Helping me find an aloe vera plant is nothing compared to helping the lame walk and the blind see.”
“God has done bigger things than this. Helping me find an aloe vera plant is nothing compared to helping the lame walk and the blind see.”
So, I made a simple prayer asking God to help me find an aloe vera plant for Erin for Christmas.
“Lord, help me to bump into the right people who will know where I can find one of these,” I remember praying. It was nothing fancy or complicated, but short and simple. I mentioned to God how Erin wanted to be able to use the plant to heal the small cuts or burns that sometimes happen to our six young kids.
As I pulled into town, I figured there was about three or four shops where I might check for the plant. The first shop I stopped at, a building supply store, was the most unlikely, but I wanted to exhaust every possibility.
I walked into the shop and asked a lady tending the cash register if they had any plants for sale. Yes, she said, there were some Christmas plants out in the back. Were there, by chance, any aloe vera plants, I asked. Not likely, she said, but we could go check.
Of course there was nothing.
I was about to leave the store when a young employee who had just arrived for her work shift literally came running up to me and blurted out, “I hear you’re looking for an aloe vera plant?”
“Yes,” I said, “but we already went to look in the back and there weren’t any.”
“Well, just wait a moment,” she said. “My dad, who just dropped me off for my shift, has a bunch of aloe vera plants at home that he’s trying to get rid of. I’m sure he would love to give you one. He’s still here in the store. I’ll go ask him.”
I must admit, I was kind of skeptical. Probably the plants were old, dried out, withered, diseased, and who knows what else. “But, there’s no harm in following the lead,” I thought.
The girl’s big burly dad approached me.
“So, my daughter tells me you’re looking for an aloe vera plant,” he boomed. “Well, today’s your lucky day. I grow aloe vera for a hobby and I’ve been thinning out my plants and repotted a few. I have a bunch at my house that I’ve been looking to give away. They’re yours if you want them.”
I eagerly accepted, but remained dubious. The man’s house was a short drive from the shop. As I followed him in my car, I just kept thinking that all of this must be too good to be true, and what were the odds of coming away with a nice plant. Oh, me of little faith…
Well, we pulled up to his house and no kidding, it was like entering aloe vera heaven. The plants were everywhere. Big, beautiful, luscious. It was like entering a tropical paradise. I simply stood in his front entrance, I’m sure with my mouth wide open, admiring the vastness of the verdure.
The man went downstairs to get me a plant. And would you believe, he returned with exactly my ‘mission impossible’ plant. It was about 8 inches tall and had a few little “pups” beneath it. The man gave me the plant and went on to describe the ‘best practices’ for keeping the plant living and healthy (extremely important info that I passed on to my wife who, it is safe to say, has not enjoyed the best of luck with plants).
I experienced such gratitude in my heart. I thanked the man for his kindness and generosity.
“I don’t know if you’re Christian or not,” I said, “but on the way to town I asked God to help me find an aloe vera plant for my wife’s Christmas present and he must’ve heard me because you were the answer to my prayer.”
“Well,” he said, “I’m an atheist. I don’t believe in God.”
“Whether or not you believe in God, he still heard my prayer and he used you to answer it,” I said. “For that I am grateful.”
We were both smiling and chuckling as we bade each other ‘farewell’ and I wished him a ‘Merry Christmas.’
I drove home with this beautiful aloe vera plant on my front seat, reflecting on the bizarre chain of events that had just unfolded. A simple prayer, a kind atheist, and an amazing aloe vera plant – only The Big Guy could have perfectly executed a stunt like this.
Some words of Jesus came to my lips: “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
“Yup God, you did it again,” I said. “You never cease to amaze me. And the atheist…simply brilliant. Thank you!”
Merry Christmas to you and your family!
Pete Baklinski, your LSN journalist