co incidental music

Rainbow Into CdTwice this week I have had unusual experiences with music. On Sunday I was asked to speak at a church up the road in Ipswich. I was not leading the service and didn’t know what songs would be selected. I was listening to (and singing along to) a CD of worship songs and was struck by some of the lyrics in the song ‘Over all the earth’ by Brenton Brown:

Over all the earth,
You reign on high,
Every mountain stream,
Every sunset sky.
But my one request,
Lord, my only aim
Is that You’d reign in me again.

Lord, reign in me,
Reign in Your power;
Over all my dreams,
In my darkest hour.
You are the Lord of all I am,
So won’t You reign in me again?

Over every thought,
Over every word,
May my life reflect the beauty of my Lord;
‘Cause You mean more to me
Than any earthly thing,
So won’t You reign in me again?

When I had sung it before I had always thought of ‘my darkest hour’ being like the ‘valley of the shadow of death’ in Psalm 23. And it most definitely can mean that. But a different meaning struck me. Sometimes my ‘darkest hour’ relates to when I am at my darkest – when I am being an appalling free sample of Jesus. At those times I need to hand back sovereignty of my life to him again.

I flicked the CD back to sing along to the track again and cranked up the volume. I then sang my lungs out as I drove along. And then the first ‘coincidence’ occurred. I felt very strongly that God was saying to me that we’d sing it again in the church that morning. And we did! I am still working out quite what that means, but it made me grin when the music group started up with the intro!

Then on Thursday evening I was talking with a friend from the church about grace. Not saying a prayer before a meal, but God’s lavish, astonishing, awesome grace. I felt very strongly that it would bless my friend to listen to U2’s amazing song: Grace. I put it on the CD player, selected the track and sat down. Three notes after the song had started (it has a beautiful harmonic musical intro that lasts over a minute) my friend asked me to stop the song.

I did so, a bit confused.

He told me that earlier in the week he had burnt a CD of his favourite songs to listen to in the car and when he played it there was a track that he did not recognise, had not bought and had not intentionally burnt to the CD. It must have been one of his wife’s songs and somehow he had selected it. It was this song. Grace:

Grace, she takes the blame
She covers the shame
Removes the stain
It could be her name

Grace, it’s the name for a girl
It’s also a thought that changed the world
And when she walks on the street
You can hear the strings
Grace finds goodness in everything

Grace, she’s got the walk
Not on a ramp or on chalk
She’s got the time to talk
She travels outside of karma
She travels outside of karma
When she goes to work
You can hear her strings
Grace finds beauty in everything

Grace, she carries a world on her hips
No champagne flute for her lips
No twirls or skips between her fingertips
She carries a pearl in perfect condition

What once was hurt
What once was friction
What left a mark
No longer stings
Because Grace makes beauty
Out of ugly things

Grace makes beauty out of ugly things

It was a quite astonishing ‘coincidence’ that this song had found its way onto his CD and that I had felt prompted to play it to him!

I’m not claiming that these are massively significant super-spiritual moments or that I am at all super-spiritual (far from it!). But they both felt very special to me when they happened and God blessed me through them. They reminded me that God can speak to us in all sorts of ways if we’re listening for him. Sometimes he underlines it with ‘coincidences’ and sometimes he gets our attention by the way he has brought about the ‘coincidence’ outside our control.

It is axiomatic that the more prayerful I am the more ‘coincidences’ happen.

Be blessed, be a blessing.

coincidentally God is at work

Colchester General Hospital

Yesterday I had a wonderfully strange experience. I had not planned to visit the hospital, but had been told that one of our members had been admitted, so I went over to see how she was (doing ok). As I stood at the nurses’ station, trying to find the lady I had come to visit, I heard my name being called. It took me by surprise, and I turned around to see a friend standing there (from nearby, but not from our church).

He had been admitted unexpectedly and had strolled up to the nurses’ station at just that moment to ask a question. What a coincidence! Or was I being gently nudged to be in the right place at the right time so I could chat with him and pray with him as well?

Sometimes people call these events ‘divine appointments’. I usually find myself chuckling gently when I think about them (they happen relatively often) because I imagine God whispering subliminal messages to me about when to go where without me knowing why. If that is the case, and I have no reason to suspect that it is, then it seems that by surrendering my will to God I am also surrendering control of my diary. Not a bad practice, I reckon, and if he wants to create an extra day in the diary for me at the same time, even better! Perhaps he is motivating me in response to prayers of others. Perhaps he is nudging me in a similar way to the way that he spoke to Old Testament prophets and told them to go to particular places.

But what if it’s not like that? What if it’s not super-spiritual? What if it is ‘just’ coincidence? Well, then the onus is on me to make the most of the opportunities that come along and be the best free sample of Jesus I can be in those circumstances. Either way, the outcome is hopefully that people are blessed and encouraged. How it happens is secondary. In fact I don’t see either explanation as less God-inspired. Either he is inspiring events, which is brilliant, or he is using coincidences, which is astonishing.

Be blessed, be a blessing (wittingly or unwittingly)

This joke requires little knowledge of American culture and business names…

Four expectant fathers were in Minneapolis hospital waiting room, while their wives were in labor. The nurse arrived and announced to the first man, “Congratulations sir, You’re the father of twins.”

“What a coincidence” the man said with some obvious pride. “I work for the Minnesota Twins baseball team.”

The nurse returned in a little while and turned to the second man, “You sir, are the father of triplets.”

“Wow, That’s really an incredible coincidence ” he answered.

“I work for the 3M Corporation.” My buddies at work will never let me live this one down.

An hour later, while the other two men were passing cigars around, the nurse came back, this time she turn to the 3rd man – who had been quiet in the corner. She announced that his wife had just given birth to quadruplets.

Stunned, he barely could reply. “Don’t tell me another coincidence?” asked the nurse. After finally regaining his composure, he said “I don’t believe it, I work for the Four Seasons Hotel.”

After hearing this, everybody’s attention turned to the 4th guy, who had just fainted, flat out on the floor. The nurse rushed to his side and after some time, he slowly gained back his consiousness.

When he was finally able to speak, you could hear him whispering repeatedly the same phrase over and over again.

“I should have never taken that job at 7-Up

“I should have never taken that job at 7-Up

“I should have never taken that job at 7-Up…