Wednesday, July 20, 2011

God's serendipities

"Jacob and Rachel" by Rabbi Karo

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Genesis 29:1-14

TO CHEW ON: "Then he said to them, 'Do you know Laban the son of Nahor?' And they said, 'We know him.' So he said to them, 'Is he well?' And they said, 'He is well. And look, his daughter Rachel is coming with the sheep.'" Genesis 29:5-6

The first people Jacob meets when he arrives in the land of his mother's people are acquainted with his uncle Laban. And how providential, that as he is speaking with them, who should arrive on the scene but that uncle's daughter Rachel shepherding her flock of sheep — the same Rachel who wins Jacob's heart and later becomes his wife.

This story reminds me of other serendipitous encounters — like the one of Abraham's servant finding a wife for Isaac. There the servant goes to the community well at the time the women come to draw water and prays specifically that God will identify the right girl for Isaac by having her offer to water his camels when he asks for a drink for himself. Before he finishes uttering the words, along comes Rebekah. Read what happens in Genesis 24:15-21.

And then there's that amazing 'coincidence' of the Shunamite woman (the one whose son Elisha raised from the dead). On Elisha's advice she leaves the country to survive a famine. When she returns, it appears she finds squatters on her land, for she goes to the king to request her land back. She enters the palace at the exact time that the king is interviewing Gehazi (Elisha's servant) about Elisha's miracles. In fact, Gehazi has just told him about Elisha raising the Shunamite woman's son from the dead when she arrives on the scene. Of course she gets her land back - 2 Kings 8:1-6.

These stories show that God is in not only the big events of our lives but in the steps that lead to them. Each one of our steps may not be as weightily significant as these three incidents, but let's be alert to God working in the details — the chance meetings, the answers to prayer, the divine serendipities.

We can say with David:
"Show me your ways, O Lord....On you I wait all the day (Psalm 25:4,5)

"But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord...My times are in Your hand (Psalm 31:14-15).

PRAYER: Dear God, please help me to be alert to Your ordering of the details of my life and to trust Your wisdom in these things. Amen.

MORE: Forgetting

Is God in the seemingly late or missed appointments too? Take forgetting. A few weeks ago my husband and I were in the midst of applying for passports and both of us needed the signature of a guarantor. When friends invited us over for coffee, we asked whether they would act as our guarantors. They willingly said they would. However, on the day of the coffee date, both hubby and I forgot all our forms and documentation at home!

Is God is such memory blips? If He is in the meetings, surely He is in the missings too! I have no idea why we forgot our forms that day, but someday I'm sure we'll see the whole picture.

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