Friday morning – Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, July 1. I’m flying home to Tennessee. As I’m passing through security I notice the gentlemen directly behind me also putting his MacIntosh Computer in a bin. The computers looked alike. I made eye contact with him and jokingly commented, “I wonder if people have ever gotten their computers mixed up.”
Moments later, a security official told me to take my shoes off just before passing through. I did as she said, but hurried, I placed my shoes on top of the computer. The woman gently rebuked me for doing that, as I suppose the computer and shoes needed to be separate for some reason.
Finally, I passed through scanner and went to the bin to gather my belongings. The man behind me also came through. We gathered our computers and other belongings, then parted for our respective gates.
As I sat at my gate a few minutes later, I was curious. Did something just happen back there…at security? I had to know.
Immediately I took the computer out of the bag and turned it on. To my shock and horror, what showed up on the screen was Nick Edwards* (not his real name) and guest! “NO!”, I moaned as silently as I could without making a scene. Our computers had been switched. This was no laughing matter!
After about 15-20 minutes of going to security and apprising them of the situation, one of their workers found Mr. Edwards at his respective gate and brought him over to where the scanners were located. The officials showed him his computer, which I had in my possession, and vice-versa. We made the switch. And just before we went our separate ways, I looked at this 30-something man and said, “Nick Edwards, from now on, you and I are inextricably linked.” He smiled and disappeared into the mass of humanity.
Relieved that this small crisis had been averted, I thought to myself, “Why did that just happen?” After pondering for a moment, I stopped and prayed for this man. Mind you, he was a complete stranger – the only thing I knew about him was our computers got mixed up. Yet, I was compelled to simply pray that if he knew the Lord, God would strengthen him, give him safe travels, and meet him at his point of need. But if he was lost, I prayed for his salvation.
I wonder – was this brief encounter more than a simple mishap? Could it have been, in some small measure, a divine appointment of sorts, were I intersected with this person in order to pray for him. I can not say. But since I walk by faith, I don’t know, and that’s ok.
What is clear is that the Lord does orchestrate divine appointments – circumstances whereby he leads people, knowingly or unknowingly, into situations in order to accomplish His will.
Here are some examples, just to name a few:
In the biblical book titled after her namesake, Esther, a common Jewish girl – through a series of events – rises from anonymity to become Queen of Persia. It turns out, she is the last and only hope in changing the grisly outcome of Haman’s evil intent to exterminate her Jewish people.
For she happens to be strategically placed “for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14)! If you remember, Esther takes heed and follows Mordecai’s exhortation to go to the King and expose Haman’s plot. The result: deliverance. The Jewish people are spared and Haman is executed.
Esther was strategically placed in the court of King Ahasuerus, so at just the right time, she could bring a word ‘aptly spoken’ – a word that changed the immediate destiny of her people.
In Acts 8, the Lord led Philip out of prosperous ministry in Samaria to a desert road in the middle of the Judean wilderness, not telling Philip what was going to happen or who he was going to meet, if anyone. As it turns out, he meets and then leads an Ethiopian Eunuch to Jesus.
In Acts 10, Peter was sent to the house of Cornelius with the express purpose of sharing the gospel with Cornelius and his household. Cornelius and the others who hear Peter come to faith (Acts 10:44-48)!
It’s good to remember that there are no coincidences in the Kingdom, just providence.
What is providence? I like this definition by the late J. Vernon McGee, who stated: “Providence is the means by which God directs all things — both animate and inanimate, seen and unseen, good and evil — toward a worthy purpose, which means His will must finally prevail.”
Additionally, the psalmist said, “his kingdom ruleth over all” (Psalm 103:19). And in Ephesians 1:11 Paul tells us that God “worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.”
What principles can we draw from these and other stories of divine appointments?
Simply, we need to be available and obedient to God. We also need to be prayerful – asking the Lord to help us be ready to give a ‘word aptly spoken’ as He orchestrates divine appointments with people. Because whether we’re aware of how He’s moving us, or simply walking by faith, we can know He is moving and working.
Have you had any recent divine appointments involving an evangelistic component? If so, let me know how the Lord orchestrated it and how you participated in it. It would be great to be encouraged and to encourage others as God moves each of us out for ‘such a time.’
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)