On way more than one occasion, I have been minding my own business, moving from one thing to the next, and I run into somebody I know. I have often called these kind of chance encounters coincidental, but lately I am not so sure there’s anything coincidental about them. What if these supposed coincidences are the Holy Spirit’s way of interrupting our plans?
So, I was coming out of HEB hospital and walking towards my car, all the while looking down at my phone and reading the latest emails that had come into my inbox. I got into my car, saw something move in my peripheral vision, and glanced over to the person on my left who was getting into his car, also looking down at his phone and I recognized him. I didn’t know his name, but I recognized his face, so I thought that maybe I should get out of my car and get his attention, but then thought that I had an appointment back at the church so I didn’t want to get caught up in a long conversation. But, something inside moved me to get out of my car so I did (and yes, that is how my mind rambles on a regular basis). He must have seen the movement because he looked up and proceeded to get out of his car. Thank God he was wearing his clergy name tag! His name is Greg Garris and he is the Sr. Pastor at St. Philips Presbyterian Church, which is located on the corner of Precinct Line and Pipeline here in Hurst. We are neighbors! During our conversation, I realized that we had much in common. Both his heart and mine have been very heavy during this election season in a way that we have never experienced in our lives, and we know that we are not alone in this. He said that he had been meaning to call me to discuss the possibility of our two churches hosting a service for the community on election eve (Nov. 7). The seeds were planted and I’m pleased to tell you that on November 7, 2016, at 7 pm at St. Philips Presbyterian Church, we will have a service for the community that will be centered around prayer and communion. It will celebrate our unity as Christians, first and foremost, even though we may not agree politically. We will pray for our nation and we will celebrate that no matter what happens on November 8, Jesus is still Lord and God is on the throne. In the words of Don Underwood, “if the tone and nastiness of our current political debate in America appears to be as base and low as we have seen in a lifetime,” we will pray for a “return to a more genteel and collaborative political dialogue.” I hope you will join me on November 7.
All that is to say this: what if these chance encounters or coincidental contacts are not chance or coincidental? What if we paid attention to these seemingly random happenings intentionally, alive to the possibility that the Holy Spirit is constantly calling us out of our plan and into God’s plan? I know what you’re thinking. What if it is just a coincidence? At the very least, we would be more present to the person we had a chance encounter with and that wouldn’t hurt anything. And if it is the Holy Spirit, we will encounter God in a new way, moving us in new directions.
So what do you think? Coincidence? Chance? Or Holy Spirit?
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In the words of Forrest Gump, “I think all these things happen at the same time.”