Look back over your calendar this past week. How many “divine appointments” did you have? Divine appointments are spontaneous encounters with another person who connects with you soul to soul. They happen in the middle of a conversation when suddenly something awakens deep inside you and you spiritually pause to listen more deeply. They happen when you are praying for God to give you confirmation during a time of discernment and you encounter words from another person that are an answer to your prayers. A divine appointment feels like an encounters that is arranged so perfectly that only the Divine could orchestrate the moment.
There are a few on our calendar from this past week. Traveling mindlessly through the week, we would not have noticed them. Traveling through the week believing that the spirit of God moves among us, we encountered a few. Divine appointments interrupt agendas.
- On a college campus this week, I encountered a new student. While visiting, it became clear that she is in the midst of “meaning-making.” She is trying to make sense of her life as it is now. The divine appointment happened when another college student overheard the conversation and spoke God’s truth into the student’s situation. Two souls connected and two lives were impacted. I became the excited and amazed observer during the encounter.
- On a sidewalk, friends walked by that our family has not seen in a while. It was time for dinner. A spontaneous dinner plan was made and we found ourselves sitting around a table and breaking bread together. The divine appointment came when a missional project they are working on connected to a missional project we are working on. Suddenly the reason we encountered them on the sidewalk just made sense. We needed to hear about their project.
- In a school hallway, a teacher shared that she is interested in starting a support group. After sharing the details about her plan and goals, it was easy to see our encounter as a divine appointment. All I had to say was, “I can make this happen. Let me get back in touch with you later.” Her relief and her smile were priceless. God smiled too.
The work of God is all around us through divine appointments. Each day we have an agenda and God has an agenda too.
It is the same with my word.
I send it out, and it always produces fruit.
It will accomplish all I want it to,
and it will prosper everywhere I send it. Isaiah 55:11
How many divine appointments did you have this past week? Next week, I hope you have even more.
From our Happy Tent to yours,
I was in the FFA barn the other day when I came across a very large Mantis (otherwise known as a “Praying Mantis”). I was startled at first (because the big guy was literally just inches away from my face… he could have killed me!), but then after shaking it off I decided to snap a picture. Praying Mantids are exceptional insects. They have very strong forelegs that fold together, allowing them to capture their prey, and hold on tightly to it (while they eat it). Because of this, they are able to continue their existence.
Human beings have something very similar to this in our lives. We have prayer. Prayer is strong, and as we fold our hands to pray, this act of faith becomes the very thing that allows us to hold on tightly (when life gets rocky, or in any season for that matter). Because of prayer, we are able to continue our existence. Life will go on because God is present with us – and we truly feel the presence of God as we pray (and as others pray for us!). That’s why Paul encourages the Church to “pray without ceasing,” and why Samuel Shoemaker reminds us that, “prayer may not change things for you, but it for sure changes you for things.”
So fold your hands, hold on tight, and become a Praying Mantis (or Praying Womantis)!!
Pray without ceasing. 1 Thessalonians 5:17
During spring break of 2015, my family and I went to Biloxi, Mississippi for a family mission trip. We worked there in Biloxi at a homeless shelter, painting, tiling, doing some general construction-type work, and sharing the love of Jesus with the guests at the shelter.
One day at lunch our work team decided to go to a seafood restaurant right by the marina. A boat had just come in from a guided fishing trip, and the guide was filleting the fish that the group had caught while out in the Gulf of Mexico. A very peculiar thing to me was that a pelican had cozied up to the guide, and was waiting patiently for him to share a scrap of fish. I’d never seen a pelican so close to a human before – it seemed almost domesticated or tame. It goes without saying that this pelican had pursued a relationship with the fishing guide, a relationship that benefitted the pelican greatly.
Isn’t that what we do when we draw close to the Lord through prayer? We pursue a relationship with God almighty. And Jesus encourages his followers to spend considerable time and energy doing this very thing. He tells us to, “ask, seek, knock” – and we will not be disappointed. But the benefits of pursuing a relationship with God through prayer are far greater than a few scraps of fish (sorry, pelican!).
I love what M. Basil Pennington (monk, author, and prayer-warrior) has to say about pursuing a relationship with God through prayer. He states, “In prayer we seek God. We do not seek peace, quiet, tranquility, enlightenment; we do not seek anything for ourselves. We seek to give ourselves… to God. He is the all of our prayer.” The greatest benefit is the relationship itself. We get to give ourselves to this relationship – we get to give ourselves to God. We get to ask, seek, and knock; knowing that whether our prayers are answered the exact way we ask them or not, we are building the most blessed relationship this life (and the life to come) has to offer.
We pursue a relationship with the One who is our Friend, our Counselor; yet at the same time is also our Rock, Refuge, and Guide. We pursue a relationship with the One who is our God – and we will not be disappointed.
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Matthew 7:7-8
Dr. Steven Bell