I asked my wife Juanell if she would like to preach for me in two weeks while I take some personal time off for reflection and restoration. She said she would. Since I follow the lectionary, she asked me what was the sermon text for that week. I got out my favorite lectionary guide and gave her the text. She smile and said, “This is the text I used for the lesson I gave at the state school this week. Was this a coincidence or an act of grace?
A few weeks ago, while finishing up at the Food Bank at the other church I serve (I serve a two church charge), I was putting up the last box of food we had put together for our clients (I prefer to call them community members) and then began to lock up the church. As I was locking up, I remembered that I had left a list of things I need to pick up at the store on my way home. I had left the list in the kitchen area. As I picked up the list, I noticed their was a message on the church land line. I listen to the message. I was one of the people who normally came to the food bank. The voice had a desperate tone. They would not be able to make it to the food bank that day and wondered if it was possible for someone to bring it to their house. So I went back, got the one box (large box) of food and loaded it into my car and delivered the food to their house. Was my forgetting my list and finding that message a coincidence or was it grace.
These are just two of the countless experiences I have had in my life. I no longer believe in coincidences, but I do believe in the interaction of the grace of God in this world that take place continually with or without our being aware.
I am slowly (because of my hard headedness) learning that perhaps the greatest threat to anyone’s spiritual growth is that of despondency. Despondency is sometimes called acedia in the writings of the spiritual teachers of the past. It is a spiritual sickness that can distract us from the ever present reality of God’s activity in our lives. Despondency would like us to embrace coincidences rather than grasping the continually grace God seeks to give us in all situations and circumstances of life.
I am convinced God really does want a continual ongoing conversations with us. I am convinced that God speaks throughout our days in the language of events, encounters, thoughts, and moments. I also believe this language is very easy to understand if we will but just actively willing to let God be the teacher. This language is the language of grace.
This is my prayer, “God, please let me learn to hear your voice in everything I encounter this day and know that there are not coincidences, only your loving grace reaching out to us to help us understand what true reality is.”