Some people call it coincidence. Others call it “God-incidence.” I just call it living in the presence of God.
Ever since my YMCA friend Raj introduced me to Sarah Young’s daily devotional guide, “Jesus Calling,” some three or four years ago, I’ve become more sensitive to God’s active presence in my daily life. I say “active” presence because I’ve always been aware that God was with me throughout my daily activities, but I was content just to know that God was watching.
I always knew that God was close, too, and not (as the Bette Midler song suggests) “watching [me] from a distance.” But I never got the feeling that God was actively engaged with me except in rare, extraordinary instances. For the most part, my weekly pattern took me to worship on Sunday to get things geared up for the week and then charge headlong into the week, as though church were a place to wind up the rubber band so my propeller would stay revved up for the next six days.
But, ever so gradually over the past few years, my spirit has become more aware of God’s/the Holy Spirit’s continual engagement in the details of my life.
A recent example: I was using my computer last week when, for no good reason, the screen went dim. I checked to make sure the plug hadn’t fallen out or come loose (it hadn’t). Everything seemed to be set up the way it was supposed to be, but the little icon in the lower tool bar showed that the computer was running solely on battery power, and running out fast. Panic mode!
Long story short: I called my younger son Kevin to see if he had any ideas for what I could do. He wanted to see the computer, so the next day I drove the hour-and-45-minute trek to his home. He determined that the problem resided in the computer itself, and not in the power cord.
IT JUST SO HAPPENED …
… that he had an identical computer to mine there in his house! The “fix” was nothing more than installing my hard drive in the computer he just happened to have there. Within reach. In his home. So he could get me back up and running that same night. (And, yes, it’s the computer I’m using to write these thoughts). Say what you will, I believe God put things in place to make it all come together so smoothly. Bonus: I got to spend some time with my grandkids!
A more recent example: Anyone who knows me knows that I’m not exactly what you would call a “frequent Facebook flyer.” I do have an account. I try to keep up with my friends’ birthdays. And I respond to notifications in which people have tagged me. But I simply don’t have the time to sit-n-scroll for an hour or two at a time.
However, last night (Mon., Dec. 9th) I decided to click the “Home” tab and see what was going on in my friends’/family’s worlds. Before long a window popped up in the lower left corner of the screen announcing that a clergy friend of mine, Ed, was preparing to send a live devotional message. That was really neat, because 1) I hadn’t seen Ed for some time, and 2) I thought I could use the devotional time.
I’m glad I stuck around. Ed read a brief evening vesper service from The Book of Common Prayer which included some scripture readings and prayers. It lasted only ten minutes or so, but I thought, “Wow — just what I needed and when I needed it.”
I JUST SO HAPPENED …
… to be checking Facebook when Ed “appeared!”
I’m less inclined to chalk these kinds of things up to mere happenstance or coincidence or good luck or even the guidance of the universe. More and more I’m embracing what I believe is the reality of God’s active presence opening up these possibilities for me.
I must admit — by allowing myself to feel less responsible for planning my days and believing that God has things under control, I feel so much more liberated. My stress levels are down. I’ve never been a worrier, but I’m even less concerned about what’s going on around me than I used to be.
A word of caution (to myself as much as to anyone who may be reading this): there’s a fine line between being led by God’s Spirit/will, and fate. Believing that God is working with me means that I’m involved in a partnership with another living Person. Fate is nothing more than what happens to you by virtue of your circumstances. Understand: I haven’t stopped planning — I just believe that if things don’t work out according to my expectations, God must have something else in mind. (Yet another example: I’m writing this before going to bed instead of writing it in the morning. I’m trying to discipline myself to write every Tuesday morning, but there were too many other things that had to be done, like, NOW. It wasn’t my plan to be up this late, but I’m trusting that God put all those other demands [obstacles?] in my way during the day in order to have me write this now.)
Just as this new realization has been liberating, it’s also been calming. I don’t stew over things as much any more.
God’s in control. I know things will work out the way they’re supposed to as long as I continue to put myself in God’s care. I pray that everyone discovers this marvelous truth. Believe me, the ride is a hoot!