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…

the ring of truth!?

God’s timing is incredible (you’d expect it to be really) but it’s wonderful when he uses us as part of his split second timing. This has happened twice in my experience in the last couple of days: phone calls have been made at exactly the right time. On one occasion the person had just been praying that someone would get in touch with them and a friend rang them. On the other occasion I had been prevented from contacting the person on three previous occasions and when I eventually got through it was exactly the right moment to speak with them.

We could put this down to coincidence, but I think that is rather unlikely (!) given how frequently it happens. We could put this down to us being super spiritually in tune with God (!) but I think this is rather unlikely given how it’s not true (for me at least). So I have to put it down to God’s intervention at the right time – and he graciously has used us for that. In the passage where Jesus was somewhat obscurely talking about sheep and goats and the end time (Matthew 25) he refers to the way in which when we do something for someone else we are doing it for him. Obviously he did not mention phone calls or e-mails but I think that he uses these today as much as he uses feeding people, living thirsty people something to drink, welcoming strangers, or visiting the sick. That’s not to say we should neglect these other things!

Some people call these occasions “divine appointments”. I’m not entirely sure about that name but I do feel really blessed when I have been able to be used like that.

Be blessed, be a blessing (even unwittingly!)