Friday, April 23, 2010


I don't believe in coincidences. I believe in Godincidences.

What's the difference?

A coincidences is simply when two seemingly unrelated incidents coincide - by accident. If it seems to be a good thing, we call it serendipity. A Godincidence is when two seemingly unrelated incidences coincide - and you can see God's hand orchestrating the whole thing. Here's an example of a Godincidence:

A couple of weeks ago on a Monday I went to the local jail to visit a parishioner. This is someone that I see every Monday morning, so it came as a surprise to me when I was told that a guard had gone to his cell, and he had rolled over in his bunk saying, "I don't want to see him." Why would my friend refuse me? Surely he was sick or something.

My next appointment wasn't for another two hours, so I had some time to kill. I decided to sit in the parking lot and send some emails with my Blackberry. (This was a lot where I don't usually park, because the lot where I usually park was unusually full that day.) I hadn't been in the lot for very long when a girl came out of the jail. Seeing me, she asked, "Do you have a cigarette?" When I told her I didn't have a cigarette, she asked, "Can I use your cell phone so I can call my mom?" I did oblige that request.

When she got off the phone, she said her mom would be there in a little while. I introduced myself, telling her that I'm a pastor so she wouldn't be too creeped out by this man who was about to volunteer to wait with her until her mom arrived. Lynn (not her real name) said that she was 18 years old, and that she'd been arrested the night before for driving under the influence of alcohol. She was distraught, and seemed like she really needed to have someone wait with her. She needed to be treated tenderly, with the grace of Christ. She also needed a pastor there with her, because she had spiritual questions that needed answering. I shared some scriptures with her, and when her mom arrived, I gave Lynn my personal Bible (marked up and underlined, fully customized. I'll miss that Bible).

The thing is--we wouldn't have had that conversation if my friend hadn't refused to see me that morning. So when I left, I thanked God for making him feel badly. Sounds weird, but I do believe that sometimes God will cause something unpleasant to happen, just so He can orchestrate something glorious.

Then, I got a phone call from my parishioner's mom. She said that he hadn't refused to see me at all. In fact, there was another inmate there with a very similar name. The guard had asked the wrong inmate if he wanted a visit from Rev. Greg Smith. No wonder the total stranger had refused to see me! When my friend had heard that the guard had spoken to the wrong inmate, he called his mom immediately, and asked her to call me and tell me about it--just so I wouldn't think he was upset with me. So God didn't need to make my friend sick in order to get him to refuse my visit, just so I would be in the "wrong" place at the "wrong" time just so I could have that conversation with Lynn. All he needed to do was create a case of mistaken identity.

The next day I returned to visit my friend, and we had a good laugh about what had happened. Toward the end of my visit (or, what I thought was going to be the end), I told him that I wanted to share a scripture with him. It was the scripture that had been in my devotional reading that same morning. His mouth dropped open when I opened the Bible to Psalm 121, because that had been the same scripture he had read this morning. "There were some things I didn't understand in that passage," he told me, "and I needed someone to explain them to me. Now, here you are opening up the very same scripture."

Yet another example of a Godincidence.

What kinds of coinciding events have you had in your life lately? Are they coincidences--accidents that have no meanings? Or can you see God's hand in them, speaking God's word into your heart through His manipulation of circumstance? I hope that when these serendipitous events happen in your life, you'll see God's hand and hear God's voice. I pray you'll open yourself to the unexpected so God can use you as His agent in this world.

1 comment:

Jo-Ann said...

My life is full of Godincidences! In fact, I recently published a book about them, and thought I was the only one who used the word. It just goes to show! Here is an audio version of the introduction to the book