They say God works in strange and mysterious ways. That was certainly the case with the journey He took me on to meet my blessed wife, Ruth Ann Hagedorn. Here are some of the disjointed pieces He used to bring this about.


As an 11th grader in Pleasantville (NY), I was deciding on a foreign language. My Dad, a teacher there, suggested German with Mrs. G, a tough, but fair teacher. He hoped the class would correct my laissez-faire attitude toward schoolwork. I took the bait, but two years of German unfortunately didn’t improve my work habits. However, with tutoring, I did get a 95 in Chemistry on the Statewide Regents final. (Apparently, it was the easiest Chemistry Regents ever…..) I was all set to attend the State University College of New Paltz.


I grew up as an Episcopalian and on my first Sunday at college I planned to go an Episcopal church. But instead, two Methodist friends invited me to their church and I enjoyed it. By the next year, my two friends were gone and so I started attending a Lutheran church with other friends. I could not have guessed who I would eventually meet at the Lutheran church.


By my sophomore year, I had managed to get on academic probation. (I told you that German didn’t change my work habits.) After getting a C in Calculus, I decided to shift my major from Math to Chemistry; after all, I had gotten a B in the required Chemistry and Physics class, and a 95 on my Regents test. I also rashly added to my schedule Qualitative and Quantitative Chemistry. It all led up to my expulsion from New Paltz because of my plummeting grades. However, the Dean graciously granted my request that if I proved myself at another college, he would reinstate me at New Paltz. I transferred and did well at The King’s College in Briarcliff Manor, a near-by Christian college. It all led to me eventually returning to New Paltz.


At this point, God had all His ducks in a row to lead me to my dear wife. One Sunday, after returning to New Paltz, I saw a beautiful lady in the Lutheran church’s choir and asked my friends her name: Ruth Hagedorn, a freshman. I also noticed her in my German II class. The first date of our courtship was to a piano concert. I then moved my seat next to hers in class. That was the beginning of one of God’s best gifts in His plan for my life.


Years later, I look back at this succession of events and wonder at God’s magnificent plan. I now have a better understanding regarding God’s handiwork: In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps. (Proverbs 16: 9) And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. (Romans 8: 28) But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of His heart through all generations. (Psalm 33:11)


Had I stayed an Episcopalian, not taken German in high school, not gotten a 95 on my Chemistry Regents, and not flunked out of College, I then would not have met and married Ruth and been blessed with two children and six grandchildren. This wonderful, life-changing encounter at a small Lutheran Church in New Paltz, could only have been orchestrated by God. He planned the steps sometimes with a wry twist: Ruth’s brother had a friend (also by the name of George), who had been seeing Ruth, and I had dated another woman (also with the name Ruth) before flunking out. Who says God doesn’t have a sense of humor?

Have you ever looked back and seen the hand of God in your own life? I have. There are no coincidences, only God incidents.

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