When we find ourselves in a Godincidence
That God works in our lives is a fundamental. The question is how? For the truth is that as we speak, as I type this, God is at work at a much deeper level than we realize. To use an analogy from computers the Holy Spirit functions within our basic operating system rather than an external input. It was CS Lewis who observed a generation ago that if God places a thought into our minds, we think that we are thinking it. I write this as the US and Russian governments are negotiating how to respond to the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government. This time last week it seemed a totally intractable situation. (It may still be.) But then on Monday in a press conference in London Secretary of State Kerry made what appeared to be a gaffe in answering a question from one of the reporters. We’ve all done it. We find ourselves speaking something we didn’t mean to say – it just comes out in an offhand comment. “Sure. (Assad) could turn over every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week. Turn it over, all of it, without delay, and allow a full and total accounting for that. But he isn’t about to do it, and it can’t be done, obviously.” And yet this unguarded remark, which was seen as a mistake at the time, could resolve the crisis. If you are reading this in a few weeks time you will know whether it did. But it is strange how often this happens. When I am speaking in church, even preaching, I find myself saying something I didn’t mean to say. Then I think “Why did I say that?” Some year ago in a Family Service I was speaking on the life of Moses, when I found myself adding an observation not in my notes. “Where did that come from?” I thought at the time. I soon found out. Right after the service a member of the congregation accosted me: “Ross, what are you doing to me?” It seemed that that particular fact had a special and powerful resonance for that person in their situation. God had spoken through my unplanned comment, not that in any way did I feel inspired. It just came out. And that’s the point – when God plants a thought in your mind, you think you are thinking it. It happened again on Tuesday. I was walking to visit a someone using a road I don’t often go down. As I passed one house, I said hello to the bloke standing at his front door. Immediately he looked shocked, then started shaking his head before beginning to laugh. “Absolutely incredible,” he kept on saying. “What are the odds of that happening?” I knew what was happening – I recognized the signs right away. Not a church member, he was pondering a serious thought before concluding “I must ask Ross whenever next I see him.” He then looked up when someone greeted him - to find it was me. I’ve written about this before. When we find ourselves in a Godincidence, simply work back in your mind how it happened. Invariably you will find there were no blinding lights or angels whispering in your ear. It just happened through the normal processes of life. So where does all this leave us? For the Psalmist there is no doubt: “God, investigate my life; get all the facts firsthand. I’m an open book to you; even from a distance, you know what I’m thinking. You know when I leave and when I get back; I’m never out of your sight. You know everything I’m going to say before I start the first sentence. I look behind me and you’re there, then up ahead and you’re there, too— your reassuring presence, coming and going.” (Psalm 139:1-6 Message translation) And his conclusion: “This is too much, too wonderful— I can’t take it all in!” We simply offer our lives to God, afresh each morning, confident of his presence and assured of his guidance. It’s all very matter-of-fact. We don’t need warm feelings or a heightened sense of God’s presence. For he is there anyway. We simply decide to operate on the basis that God keeps his promises, which find their YES in Christ. That is all we need. And amazingly he can even use our gaffes!