We followers of Jesus love clichés – we have many.
One that you’ll hear on occasion is, “With God there are no coincidences…” or “with God, nothing happens by accident” or the pithier, “Coincidences are just those times when God chooses to remain anonymous.” Pretty clever, eh?
So, do we believe them – those clichés – whether good or bad the circumstance?
Many of us believe God is sovereign – meaning the Supreme Ruler. (Frankly I don’t know how He could be God if he wasn’t) So, if He sees all and is in all… (as opposed to the Deist god who created everything then stepped back and said, “You kids play nice – I’m going on permanent vacation to a galaxy far, far away.”) …if God is involved here and now – and He’s God… then I’m guessing He doesn’t miss a thing.
He misses nothing. But does He orchestrate everything? We love to see “the hand of God” (another of our cool clichés) when things turn out really good, but not when things turn out crummy. Then we like to shake “the fist of man” at Him and say, “Where were You, God?!” At least I do.
I think the key is our obedience. And I DON’T mean the jot-and-tittle rigors of committing to the rules of the Bible, then working – striving – failing – confessing – working harder – striving harder – failing anyway – confessing again – working even harder……UGH….
I mean the obedience that applies these words: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke, and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Here, Jesus is saying obedience means:
If you’ve ever seen a picture of two oxen yoked together, you get it: there is grueling work ahead. And if they don’t work in perfect harmony, the job becomes incredibly harder. But what if Jesus is the other ox…?
So I recently obeyed that voice. I go to a terrific men’s breakfast twice a month. Since I’m making little income, I told my friend Lyle I couldn’t afford to go. He said “I’ll buy your breakfast.” I said, “But there’s also gas, tips… I can’t afford it anymore.” He said, “I think you need to be with the brothers.”
Sandy said the same thing. So I laid my clothes out the night before, (attending requires me to arise at 5:30 to get to the other side of Nashville in time for chow.) I laid them out in case I heard God saying I should go.
Next morning I awoke before the alarm…and I hear, “Get up Den. I want you to go…”
I went – and a new guy sat at our table. He was energetic, funny, and we bonded immediately. I reached out to him after, gave him a business card – I didn’t want to lose track of him. He said he’d email me. Often that well-intended email never arrives.
His did – an hour later. In it, he invited me to a very exclusive prayer meeting at a remote little stone chapel.
I went – and found myself surrounded by incredibly godly men – true pillars of faith in the heart of a Bible-belt city. I thought, “What am I doing here with these spiritual giants?” There were 12 in attendance. So I felt like Matthias – he was the new 12th disciple, voted into the apostle club after Judas Iscariot screwed up his membership. But they included me, we sang, prayed, had communion, then prayed over individuals and their needs.
I got prayed over – with hands laid on me, I felt the fervent prayers of eleven righteous men.
So I kept in touch with the energetic guy who invited me. Soon after, I visited his office. This was the man to whom I said, “You’re like me.” Then he told me he has ADD.
Because of that encounter, I’ve read, studied, taken tests, got recommended to a shrink, and now have the meds that might help put my life back on track – and maybe I’ll even be able to earn a living again.
Coincidence? Obedience? I submit: both. Because I obeyed – and attended the breakfast – all the rest happened “coincidentally.” They would not have happened had I not obeyed.
“Coincidences are just those times when God chooses to remain anonymous, and we choose to be obedient.” Pretty clever, eh?
Photo courtesy of: Wikimedia Commons