We love the Christmas and New Year’s letters we receive in the mail. Mostly, we pile everything to read after Christmas, keep the envelopes in case addresses need to be changed, and then we settle by the fireplace to catch up on friends and distant family.
This letter came from Sylvia Lovett (who was in our Moody Church youth group in Chicago more than 40 years ago). She writes about two of her sons who were traveling in Europe.
Matt and Ian were traveling in different parts of Europe and planned to rendezvous somewhere in the town of Prian, Slovenia to go climbing. The day before they were to meet, Matt was in Venice, Italy. Overland, the trip to Slovenia entailed bus, trains, taxis and the possibility of being stuck at the border. The trip across the Adriatic Sea was only two hours, but he had missed the weekly ferry. The closest town Matt could get was the ferry to Umag, Croatia, Slovenia’s neighboring country. Arriving in the sleepy coastal town, he found a taxi driver willing to take him across the border to Piran. As Matt was deposited in the town square, his next thought was to find Ian. They had no meeting point, phone contact, or Internet connection. As Matt picked up his bags and looked around, rain started to fall—and there was Ian, leaning against the corner of a building. He had been waiting about 10 seconds.
Now these kind of divine encounters happen all the time in our lives, but most of us don’t pay much attention to the fact that God has planned rather remarkable meetings. We run into an old friend we haven’t seen in years and that person has the key to open a door we didn’t have the key to open. We’ve started to attend a church we were part of decades ago. Every Sunday we bump into people we’ve known and loved. It has been kind of a grand homecoming or an unplanned reunion.
Last Sunday we shared a meal with friends—he had started in Youth For Christ when David, just home from seminary, had been commandeered by national headquarters to funnel former high-school club members, now attending Wheaton College, into directing clubs in local school. They, newly married, he and his wife had attended the church we planted together on the West Side of Chicago. When they left after our Sunday meal together, we basked in that warm glow that always comes from connecting again with former friends.
However, these meetings are often un-dramatic and can be easily taken for granted. We need stories of extraordinary encounters in far off places to cause us to think, Wow! That had to be of God!
The truth is that most of our connections are divine appointments. We never know which strangers we meet will become friends. We don’t know who it is nearby us who needs that word from us so casually extended. I recently read of a couple who felt impelled to talk with someone seated beside them in a restaurant. The conversation turned to spiritual questions and answers. The stranger went away seemingly unmoved and unchanged. However, a gentleman sitting in another nearby table paid his bill in preparing to leave the restaurant. He paused at their table and said, “You have no idea what your discussion has done for me. I came in here troubled and heart-sore, wondering where God was in my life. Forgive me for listening so intently, but everything you said to that man was exactly what I needed to hear.”
We are at the beginning line of a new year. Remember, won’t you, the two brothers finding each other in Prian, Slovenia, both traveling from different parts of Europe, without cell phones, or an Internet connection or a designated meeting place, looking up in the rain and discovering that they have arrived at their destination within ten seconds of each other. Now that’s a story.
Award-winning author Karen Mains has long had an interest in spiritual formation and the obedient Christian walk. She has written about the God Hunt in her book by the same name, The God Hunt: The Delightful Chase and the Wonder of Being Found. A hardback copy can be ordered from Mainstay Ministries for $10.00 plus $4.95 shipping and handling. Contact Karen at firstname.lastname@example.org and she will be happy to autograph a copy for you.
Karen continues to write content for her Christian blog, “Thoughts-by-Karen-Mains.” In so doing, she desires to touch the lives of Christian women and men and help them find ways to walk closer with the Lord Jesus Christ. In addition, through silent retreats, spiritual teaching, women’s retreats, Christian vacation opportunities, and other ministry activities, Karen helps each Christian woman and man receive vital spiritual food.
Through her Hungry Souls ministry, Karen serves as a spiritual coach to many Christian women and men, and teaches a mentor-writing class. And, through the Global Bag Project, she is working to develop a network of African women who sew exquisite cloth reusable shopping bags, Africa bags. This micro-finance women opportunity helps provide a much-needed sustainable income for struggling African families. For more information on this critically important project, please click here.
For decades, Karen and her husband, David, have served God through religious communications—radio, television, and print publication. They are the co-authors of the Kingdom Tales Trilogy: Tales of the Kingdom, Tales of the Resistance, and Tales of the Restoration. To find many valuable resources for pastors and congregations at the Mainstay Ministries main website, please click here.
Likewise, pastors will find special resources to help them prepare effective, life-transforming Sunday sermons by visiting David Mains’ website by clicking here.