“It so happened that Naomi had a relative by marriage, a man prominent and rich, connected with Elimelech’s family. His name was Boaz.” – Ruth 2:1
I was recently with our Miami street ministry leader and we were talking about the different ways we have learned to hear from God. We all know that we hear from the Lord through His word, through others, through the still small voice in our hearts and many other ways. But we began to talk about seeing God’s leading through coincidence because, as believers, we don’t believe in coincidence.
As in the scripture from Ruth, both Naomi and Ruth were in difficult situations when Naomi counseled Ruth to go glean from “some” field. And it “so happened” that the field that Ruth went to happened to be owned by an eligible, rich, prominent man who could act as Ruth’s kinsmen redeemer and completely turn their lives around.
In the story, the seasoned Naomi identified the fact that there was no way this could be a coincidence and that God was indeed making a way for them where there seemingly was no way. And what the ministry leader and I were talking about was learning how to be led by, what the world would call, coincidence. As it happened, a few days later I was allowed to put this into action.
As some of you know I enjoy painting. Additionally I like painting in the ministry houses, as it provides ways for me to communicate to the people of the neighborhoods in a unique way. But I haven’t painted in a long time. I’ve been too busy to paint, or so I thought. A while ago a friend of mine texted me and said, “Don’t forget your artwork. God can use that as an avenue to bless the ministries you run.” I didn’t think much about it until a few weeks later friends of ours told me that they had someone asking about a painting of mine and asking if they could get artwork from that same artist. Coincidence? So, trying to learn from my own life and the conversation about coincidence I had with our Miami leader, I decided to move in the direction that God might be directing.
A few days later I was taking my son to run an errand when I went past a place that sells painting materials and I decided that if I was going to be faithful in following through on God’s leading I should stop in there to see what was available. I only had a few dollars but I decided to look anyway. We got into the store and found a beautiful canvas but it cost twice what I had and we decided to wait and look other places. Something (or Someone….hmm…) told me to ask if there were any sales going on and the lady checked for me. Wouldn’t you know it? They were 50% off! It would be exactly what I could afford! But…there was a problem. The canvas might be too big to fit in my car. The other man helping us told us he would come out and measure our car to see if it would fit. It didn’t. I asked if I bought it today, would he be willing to hold it until I could find a vehicle big enough to transport it home. He said he would hold it.
A lady listening to us talk said, “I’ll put it in the back of my truck if you want.” I thought she was joking. She wasn’t. Not only did she stop her day to take us 8 miles away to the home of a complete stranger, she refused to take gas money. And to top it all off, when asking for directions back to the main road, I asked her where she needed to get to and it “so happened” that her next appointment was only a mile from our house! And we never discussed it before she agreed to help! So happened? I think not.
What we would like to challenge you in today is to pay attention to the “coincidences” that the Lord may be trying to use to lead you with. We have learned how to use seeming coincidences to lead us in our ministry in the streets. Maybe you can learn how to be led that way in your life as well?