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By Sarah Nyhan
You have to start somewhere…
I had an interesting situation happen yesterday. I needed to be somewhere in the evening. I hadn’t looked at the address to see where I needed to be. Instead I had been running all around town doing business.
All of a sudden my business dried up. I spent a long while getting caught up on some emails and updating my calendar. Then frustrated by not having anymore business, I decided to call it a day and head over to where I needed to be in the evening.
Well, I looked up the address and it was only six minutes away! My business, or I’d like to think God, had situated me right where I needed to be without me even knowing.
It brings up two points that I’ve been wondering about this week. #1 about the extent of God’s intervention in our lives. #2 about how the miraculous happens as we go about our daily work. Let me explain a little more.
To start, I find it really difficult to believe in “random” coincidences with really high odds. Rather than defining what is and what isn’t a “random” coincidence, I’ll just say that if you think about it honestly, you have to admit there are some things that happen where the odds are so mathematically unlikely that there seems to be Someone making things happen.
Yesterday wasn’t the best example of that, but it wasn’t something to be ignored either. The odds of me going all around a big city with miles and miles of land and I “randomly” end up right where I need to be? At that, I had been getting business all day and then suddenly it dried up for an extended abnormal amount of time.
Thinking about the odds of how unlikely things like that are, makes me rest a little bit more when I have times in my life where it doesn’t seem like anything is working out. Maybe it isn’t just me failing to produce. Maybe it isn’t just me not working hard enough. Maybe I am rather being positioned by God to a place where I need to be.
This is where a struggle between our understanding and those spiritual whispers occur. Do we just stick with pure “logic” or follow our “heart”? As much as we may aim for the safety of purely “scientific” explanations, even then we are only taking our best guesses. History has proved that we as a group have been so wrong for long periods of time about certain things until new discoveries expand our perceptual capacities. Why would we not experience the same in our personal relationship with God?
The God of all Creation says His ways are higher than our ways, His thoughts are higher than His thoughts. We want the perceived safety of a formula rather than the safety of being in the heart of Him who is always for us.
If He blocks a door, if He has us waiting on the tarmac for what seems like an interminably long time, if we are in the delivery room and the labor seems like it will never end… on and on; you have your own. We can think back to times before. Monuments in our lives. Where we knew He saw us and showed off. Moments where we later were thankful that He didn’t give us the thing that we thought would crush our hearts to be without. I’d wager even maybe more often than not, we will only know after the fact.
Will we trust Him in the middle? Will we release ourselves from the opinions of others who are not in our shoes or on our path? Will we surrender our well-meaning plans and let a Father, who thoroughly enjoys us, blow our minds?
Which leads me to my second main point. Earlier in the week so many were so sure they were going to be the winner of the billion-dollar Mega Millions lottery. What is that? How can people have what feels like a real emotional experience that turns out to be so false? How can we ever trust our own thoughts? How do we know what is really true?
(These days it seems like the only thing I know for sure is God loves me. Loves us. Loves you.)
Spiritually I am angry at the institutionalized church for leaning so much on similar emotionalism. For stressing thinking along the lines of “what do you FEEL”? That thinking seems to have led me to so many humiliating places.
Yet at the same time, God created the capacity for us to feel and think in those ways. I don’t know how it all goes together, but I know He finds us wherever we are and we are always safe in Him.
All to say I think our culture, with at least a lot of the American church included, has this tendency to pitch stories where the central character has some “holy grail” experience. In that they receive a super-special directive and then follow “signs” that lead them to win the prize in question. And probably completely unconsciously, that thinking has permeated into our decision-making process at times. Some more than others.
In contrast, this week I have been considering how maybe God works more often by coming alongside of whatever we are doing in our normal daily lives. Versus best revelation only being experienced on metaphorical mountain tops.
I think about my own life first. How the most important events of my life occurred on “normal” days where I had zero inkling of any hint as to what would transpire. I was just going about my regular business and then BAM – a life-changing event.
Then I think about people in the Bible. Many examples, but one of the first to come to mind was Ruth. Women around the world are on the lookout for their own Boaz. But Ruth didn’t set out that day to find a man. She set out to work, to gather food to eat. Handling her business. It was too much of a “random” coincidence that she ended up in the field where she didn’t even know she needed to be. That’s where I see God.
But the directive for me is just to live. To stop trying to figure God out. To just handle my business as best I know how, release most of my expectations for what and how things should happen, and ask God to help me see.
To see what He is doing when it looks like nothing is working out. To see where He is in whatever situation I find myself. And to see myself and others in Him when the panic of not knowing and the waves threaten the boat.
God, You are only good all the time. It is my understanding that is flawed. Here I am begging You for crumbs when You have baked me my own huge cake. Thank You for helping me learn to receive Your limitless love.
I don’t want to cross the line into name it and claim it thinking. But I don’t want to limit God. I don’t want to repeat the stories where Jesus said there were limits due to their unbelief. I don’t want to be so well-meaning and hard-headed like the religious leaders of Jesus’ time that I don’t leave room for mystery and instead try to force God into the box I’ve made for Him. Even as much as I believe He will get inside whatever box I build for Him and blow it up from the inside out. Just like Jesus did on The Cross we murdered Him on. He works all things for good, but I don’t want another forty years in a desert. Amen?
Flight attendants, please prepare for takeoff…