Coincidence?

Life is short. I want to live it to the full.  This sounds ambitious and I definitely don’t succeed in this lofty aspiration on a daily basis, but I am trying.  One of the ways that I try to live life to the full is to recognize life’s little ‘coincidences’ along the way. I want to see the supernatural amidst the natural and often this appears as coincidental.  I see them as direct messages from God and I don’t want to miss them. I want to recognize his little gifts to me.

Wanna hear about a couple of recent coincidences?

When we arrived in India, we received a card in the welcome basket that was placed in our room.  The gift-basket included fruits and cookies, some toiletries and a bar of laundry soap.  It was a wonderful welcome gift; it definitely gave us that “we been expecting you” feeling. In this welcome basket there also was a ‘coincidence’ – a gift from God.  On the card was the theme verse for the week and it was the same verse that Will and I had chosen for our wedding.

Phil 2:2 “make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.”

As I held the verse in between my hands I silently thanked God for this, his message. Incased in our vows to each other almost 23 years ago, we acknowledged that we were becoming one – not only as husband and wife, but also in our lives’ goals.  We desired to become a strong couple that was united not only in love, but also in spirit and purpose.  The very reason why we were in India was because of this desire- we wanted to spend our lives working together toward a common purpose.

That verse was a specific blessing from God shown as a confirmation that we were meant to be in India. Pretty cool, eh? Well, there’s more.

After the week long training, Will and I participated in a “Weekend to Cherish” family life seminar. During the opening ceremonies all the speaker couples were introduced at the ‘inauguration’.  Our particular experience in India gave us the impression that they are big on pomp and ceremony. We were handed a large bouquet of flowers and were seated on the stage throughout the opening speeches and ceremonial proceedings. It was quite formal.

Then… there was the opening song and another ‘coincidence’.  A talented couple sang a Steve Green song entitled “Household of Faith”.  This was the song that was sung at our wedding!  You can imagine my ‘goosebumps’ or as my Indian friends say ‘chicken skin’.  Again, God in his mercy gave us a blessing.

I have often been asked if I think we can hear God’s voice.  I always respond with a resounding “YES”.  It is God’s promise to us in John 10.  In using the analogy of the sheep and shepherd relationship, Jesus assures us that we will hear his voice and recognize it. I do believe that God is speaking to us and wanting to communicate his love and guidance in our everyday lives.  He speaks through scripture, through conversation or even through our feelings or circumstances.  We just need to recognize it.

I was particularly humbled by God’s messages of assurance and promise.  God knew we needed extra care in India. He spoke so clearly to my heart through the use of our wedding verse and song.  It wasn’t just a coincidence – it was God speaking.

By the way… the assurances that we will hear his voice and recognize it, is just a couple verses after the promise that through him we can have life and live it to the full! Coincidence?

It

I’ve been anticipating this.  I’ve experienced it before in my travels and although I was expecting it, when I actually experienced it – I was amazed.  “It” is a feeling of meeting someone and ‘knowing’ them even though you’ve just met. It’s a human connection that is deepened through a shared spiritual foundation.  We can live in completely different cultures and have unique life experiences that are dissimilar, yet we can connect through our faith.  It’s unity through Christ; the common source of strength and love that we tap into that allows us to connect with a level of intimacy that is profound.

Before I had left Canada, I had shared with a group of friends that one of the things I love about traveling is these amazing connections that are created with other Christ followers.  I describe it as the Holy Spirit in me recognizing and connecting with the Holy Spirit in them.

This afternoon we met for lunch with a couple that is doing a similar work in India that Will and I are doing in Canada.  They were sharing about some of the hard things that they had gone through in the past year.  I asked her who she went to for support.  She smiled, looked me straight in the eye and then pointed up. “God” she stated.  It was a simple testimony of God’s grace and strength through tough times.  And I understand what she means.  We both know what it means to “taste and see that the Lord is good”.

This same connection was expressed during our farewell supper.  An Indian family had spent the entire day preparing a ‘western meal’ for us. Although it was very tasty to our palette everyone else said it was very ‘bland’… and there was no rice! We had a great meal together followed by a mini worship service.  Her son played the guitar and we sang worship songs that were familiar to all the families. Our host read a Psalm from the scriptures and then she asked how they could pray for us.  We shared and prayed together.

During her prayer of blessing for us, she prayed exactly what I had felt. She described “it”. She thanked God that our paths had crossed and she expressed praise for how quickly and deeply we could bond because of our shared place in the family of God.  She acknowledged that despite the brevity of our visit there was a sense of connectedness that we shared that couldn’t be experienced even with people that she interacted with every day.

I experienced “it” with a beautiful older woman the week before.  Her and her husband had travelled for hours to attend the training session.  Wrapped majestically in her Indian sari, she grasped my hand and looked through my eyes into my soul.  The Holy Spirit in her poured out of her very being and although her English was limited we conversed praising God for the message that marriages and lives could be transformed through the message of Jesus.

So as we leave India, I am again amazed.  I’m awed by the presence of God in people’s lives and how this can be reflected in relationships.  We are literally from the other side of the world and from vastly different cultures and life experiences yet we aren’t that different.  These women, whose names I couldn’t even pronounce, all came from very different lives yet… we connected.  Intensely and deeply.  It was a supernatural connection and a testimony of the living presence of God… all around the world.  This is ‘it’.