Growing up on the farm was a great, great childhood, but it was occasionally isolating. We lived a half-mile off the highway and no neighbor within shouting distance, so during the summers, when we maybe went into town twice a week (once for church, once for groceries and/or other business), the only contact with the outside world was the mail box a half-mile away. (I should also say we didn't have a phone in those days. Sounds so primitive, doesn't it? Just my version of normal.)
So everyday, I would ride my bike (or walk, but once we got bikes, why walk?) down the gravel road to get the mail. Thursdays brought the weekly local paper, but other days were unpredictable. I would save cereal box tops and send off for stuff, join record or book clubs, subscribe to comic books, anything to generate mail. It happened so seldom, but the greatest excitement on some days was to get a piece of mail that was addressed to me, with my name on it. It's nice to get affirmation of one's existence and I guess I'll take it where I can.
There was this one time---and I wish I could remember how old I was, but late elementary, early junior high I'm guessing---when I was wondering about atheism. I don't think I was ever going to really commit to the idea, but it sort of intrigued me that some people just didn't belive in God. Taking this question and using it to put God to the test seemed like a reasonable thing to do---and maybe use it to generate mail with my name on it (because I really did believe God existed and figured God probably wanted me to keep believing).
So I prayed something like: "Dear God, If you are real, there will be something in the mail today with my name on it." Ridiculous, I know. Sometimes I think it is my ridiculousness that keeps God from striking me down, even today.
It came to ride down to get the mail, which was about 9:20 a.m. as I recall. I pedal on down, pull up to the mail box and open it with anticipation. A post card! It's addressed to me! There is a God!
I turn it over. It's from my dentist. It's time for my check up.
I laughed. Not only did I learn there was, indeed, a God (and would play along now and then with being put to the test), but I also learned God has a sense of humor (hence my faith that being ridiculous entertains God and keeps the smiting away).
* * *
In seminary, I told this story during a sermon. Afterward, another seminarian came up to me a little indignant about the whole thing. "You know that was just a coincidence, right? What if there hadn't been anything in the mailbox?"
I just shrugged and said, "Then that would have been a different story."