Monday, May 10, 2010


Coincidence. Fate. Destiny. Do we live in a random bubble of events that sometimes intersect, or are our paths already mapped out by a Creator's sovereign design? In the famous words of sage philosopher, Forrest Gump, “I think it's both.” Do humans have free will to choose or does God employ His sovereign will? I say with gusto, “YES!” and then tilt my head with a thoroughly puzzled stare. “How?” Hmmmmm, I don't know. Let me illustrate my absolutely confident uncertainty. I recently spent a weekend at a beach house with my two writing buddies. Each of them experiences God in a special way through nature from time to time through a particular symbol. One gal often sees a deer in her yard or a nearby field. For the other, a rainbow often appears where nothing but clouds should be - as in the picture above. Why a rainbow on a completely sunny day - in the shape of a cross, no less?

My friends aren't superstitious or hyper-spiritual about these “signs.” They simply have noticed God's special “kiss” through the years in these tender revelations. We three had come together for the weekend to work on writing projects; however, all our hearts were heavily burdened with life. When we went to a restaurant for dinner, we noticed two deer running down the sidewalk! Please understand, this is in the middle of a busy beach town – on Main Street! Coincidence? Or was my friend's Heavenly Father comforting her with His presence? The next day we went for a long walk on the beach, taking lots of pictures on a sunny afternoon. I took a picture of my second friend with the sun glaring above, and when we replayed the digital image – a rainbow ringed the sun behind her. Coincidence? Or was her Heavenly Father comforting her with His presence? I don't have a particular “sign” that assures me of God's presence or work in my life, but I thoroughly enjoyed watching my friends bask in His impromptu kisses. As we walked back to the beach house, I noticed a veritable garden of rocks – smooth stones planted on the beach, worn by the tide's sand and water. I immediately thought of my mom. She loves rocks and collects a rock from everywhere she travels. I began praying for her and thought of her often throughout the rest of the weekend. Coincidence? Or was my Heavenly Father prompting me to pray for my mom, who was struggling with her own battles at the time? Well, my answer is: God guides the deer, the rainbow and the tide; but I choose to recognize His hand on my life…

Gen. 29:1-4 – “Then Jacob continued on his journey and came to the land of the eastern peoples. There he saw a well in the field, with three flocks of sheep lying near it because the flocks were watered from that well. The stone over the mouth of the well was large. When all the flocks were gathered there, the shepherds would roll the stone away from the well's mouth and water the sheep. Then they would return the stone to its place over the mouth of the well. Jacob asked the shepherds, 'My brothers, where are you from?' 'We're from Haran,' they replied.” (emphasis added)
  • Please remember – no camel, no GPS, map or compass, and no convenience stores along the way. Jacob lived most of his life “among the tents” (Gen. 25:27), so I'm guessing he was no Daniel Boone either. The journey from Isaac's camp in Beersheba to Haran was approximately 600 miles (as the crow flies), and the average speed of travel on foot is twenty miles a day. You do the math. All Jacob saw at this point was a well and three flocks of sheep with their shepherds – in the middle of a field – somewhere in the east. How many left turns and right forks in the road did Jacob make before arriving in Haran? Did he pray about each one or make the decisions on his own? Out of the thousands of choices we make each day, which ones are covered in prayer?
Gen. 29:5-8 – “He said to them, 'Do you know Laban, Nahor's grandson?'
'Yes, we know him,' they answered.
Then Jacob asked them, 'Is he well?'
'Yes, he is,' they said, 'and here comes his daughter Rachel with the sheep.'
'Look,' he said, 'the sun is still high; it is not time for the flocks to be gathered. Water the sheep and take them back to pasture.'
'We can't,' they replied, 'until all the flocks are gathered and the stone has been rolled away from the mouth of the well. Then we will water the sheep.'” (emphasis added)
  • Jacob seems a little bossy for a newcomer, eh? He shows up, asks a few questions and immediately orders the other three shepherds to take their sheep and get lost when he sees lovely Rachel approaching. Why? Did he have an animal husbandry degree, perhaps an expert in the care of livestock? Or did he simply seek privacy with Rachel? No matter. His not-so-subtle attempt at privacy failed, and Jacob would have an audience for his testimony, witnesses to the story of his past. Considering Jacob's deceitful history, was it coincidence that he was pushed into the humbling accountability corner?
Gen. 29:9-12 – “While he was still talking with them, Rachel came with her father's sheep, for she was a shepherdess. When Jacob saw Rachel daughter of Laban, his mother's brother, and Laban's sheep, he went over and rolled the stone away from the mouth of the well and watered his uncle's sheep. Then Jacob kissed Rachel and began to weep aloud. He had told Rachel that he was a relative of her father and a son of Rebekah. So she ran and told her father.”
  • Was it a coincidence that Rachel came to the well at the precise moment that he arrived? Think of the echoes of this one kiss, each decision in Jacob's and Rachel's lives leading up to it and each moment after. Rachel thought she was just going to the well to water the flock – AGAIN – but this mundane, daily activity changed her life forever.
Gen. 29:13-14 – “As soon as Laban heard the news about Jacob, his sister's son, he hurried to meet him. He embraced him and kissed him and brought him to his home, and there Jacob told him all these things. Then Laban said to him, 'You are my own flesh and blood.'”
  • I'm guessing Laban remembered a similar scenario when his sister Rebekah had gone for water and returned with Abraham's servant, who had come to secure a bride for Abraham's son, Isaac (Gen. 24:29-30). Now, decades later (some think Jacob was 75-80 years-old when he fled to Haran), Laban welcomes Jacob – the fruit of Isaac and Rebekah's union – who also met God‟s choice by Haran's well.
Lord, how many times in my day do You work…and I miss it? How many amazing displays of Your power and presence do I let slip by unnoticed because I'm too busy, too skeptical or too downtrodden to believe You would reveal Yourself in such a bold way to ME? Teach me to look for You in the ordinariness of my day. Open my eyes to the God-happenings around me.

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