So often, those things we tend to categorize as "coincidence" really aren't. God speaks in many different ways, and so often what we think of as random, hmm-that's-weird kinds of things are really God's voice speaking.
Here's an example.
So last night Emma prompted some family prayer. She asked how I was feeling, I mentioned that I'm worried/burdened/anxious about teaching Bible study and the preparation I'm doing, she said, "Let's pray about it." She got up, put her arms around me, and prayed for me. Right then and there.
(I know. How sweet and mature and amazing is that? Especially in a nine-year-old? As Beth says, some things are caught, some are taught--and she's getting it. I see such faith and practical obedience to God in her. Which is a whole 'nother post.)
After she prayed, I told her how much I appreciate her and how I see her doing what the Bible says--not worrying about anything, but turning our worries into prayer. As The Message says, "Instead of worrying, pray!"
So then she hops on her iPod, finds the passage, and emails it to me. (Tech savvy kid!)
Not ten minutes later, the phone rings. My dad is calling to tell me that my basement has flooded because of a blocked drain. In Denver. Where lot of my stuff--not to mention my friend's stuff--is stored.
Worry! Fret! Stress!
Feeling helpless, far away, and unable to do anything. Guilty that my dad and brother-in-law have had to leave dinner to go deal with it. Horrible that my friend who's living in my house has to deal with such a mess. Worried about what it's going to cost to fix it. Borrowing trouble about another potential problem Dad raised that needs to be addressed later in the spring about drainage away from the house.
And on and on and on.
And then I thought of the simplicity of what we'd just been talking about. "Shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns."
Coincidence that we'd just been talking about what to do with worry? With fretting? Not at all. Coincidence that we'd just been talking about the fact that God wants to know our concerns--all of them--even stuff that we somehow doubt he'd care about it? Nope.
So our prayers last night had a lot to do with houses and drains and water damage and plumbers and so on. They may not have sounded "holy" or "spiritual." But something tells me they sounded just fine to God.
Shape your worries into prayer.
I have to say that I love The Message. Its simplicity and directness communicate the truth of what we often pass over as familiar in a fresh and exciting way. Toben worked with Eugene Peterson as the publisher for The Message for a number of years, so it's a Bible close to our hearts.