Writer, editor, stumbler after Jesus


IF YOU HAVE spent any length of time reading the Bible, you have probably had the experience of a particular verse or passage jumping off the page. You know, like it was written just for you, right at that moment. You felt like if you were to touch the page, the ink would still be so wet it would smudge.

I’m not talking about those occasions when you go looking for what you need, maybe with the help of a guide on what to read when you are lonely, anxious, fearful, or fill-in-the-blank. I mean when you’re working your way through a book of the Bible or following some kind of reading plan. Then, wham, it suddenly intersects directly with where you are at.

Some people dismiss such times as mere coincidences, the perfect coming together of apparently random circumstances. Not pastor and author Norman Vincent Peale, who maintained that while coincidences may seem strange, “they are never a result of caprice. They are orderly laws in the spiritual life of man. They affect and influence our lives profoundly. These so-called imponderables are so important that you should become spiritually sensitized to them.”

I agree, but I prefer to think of them not as coincidences but as coincidances—moments choreographed by God. Moments when He somehow manages to match the music we need to hear with our possibly faltering steps.

These occasions are rare enough for me not to rely on them. Yet, they are common enough that I’ll sometimes keep half an eye or ear open to the possibility. But the most recent, experienced just last week, caught me completely off-guard.

I’d been in a bit of a funk for a couple of days or so. My various freelance projects all seemed stalled for one reason or another, leaving me feeling quite frustrated. Meanwhile, I was awaiting further direction on one that involved some major reworking. It had left me wondering, after 45 years of writing for a living, how I’d ever thought I could put words together meaningfully.

In a word, I was discouraged. And then my morning reading through of 1 Chronicles—lots of lists of people and places—brought me to chapter 28. There in verse 20, I read David’s instructions to his son, Solomon, on the building of God’s Temple in Jerusalem:

“Be strong and courageous and do it. Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed, for the Lord God, even my God, is with you. He will not leave you or forsake you, until all the work . . . is finished.”

Yes, these words were originally spoken in another language. To another person. In another situation. In another land. In another time. But they burst into my present-day circumstances like a bolt from the blue.

Don’t ask me to explain it all, how those words of David’s met my weighed-downness at just the right time. Just put it down to coincidance, a timely reminder that God sees and cares.

Such moments bring to mind the promise of Hebrews 4:12: “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

By God’s Spirit, His ancient text becomes today’s stirring melody.

Photo by zinetv on Trend hype/CC BY-NC-ND

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