Coincidence or Synchronicity

“Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.”

Albert Einstein

Do you believe in coincidence? How about synchronicity? I didn’t even know what synchronicity meant until it was discussed in a murder mystery I watched a while back. Curious about the term, I decided to look it up.

According to the dictionary, synchronicity is “the simultaneous occurrence of events, which appear significantly related but have no discernible causal connection.” Jungian theory calls it “an essentially mysterious connection between the personal psyche and the natural world” [Carl G. Jung (1960), Synchronicity: An Acausal Connecting Principle, Princeton University Press, 2012, p. 44.].

So, what is the difference between coincidence and synchronicity? Both mean “striking occurrences of two or more events at one time,” but coincidence is seen as only chance or luck while synchronicity implies the presence of a deeper intelligence at work.  I tend to agree Albert Einstein’s idea that it is God at work.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

Jeremiah 29:11

When I was about to graduate with my master’s degree, I applied to serve as a short-term missionary through the International Service Corp. What followed had to be more than just coincidence.

When I went for the interview, I was to choose my top three positions for service. I had my mind set on Kenya, and I really wasn’t interested in any of the other options. My roommate (who was originally from Korea) insisted that I must go to Korea. I shrugged it off, but she kept insisting until I put it down as my second choice. I randomly wrote down a third choice and returned home to wait for a decision.

A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps.

Proverbs 16:9

My letter of acceptance was a bit confusing to say the least. It listed both Kenya and Korea in the job offer, so I called to get clarification. They surprised me by saying that they remembered my application in particular because there was a bit of a discussion regarding where I should go, but the final word was Korea.

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Proverbs 3:5-6

After a lot of prayer, I accepted the offer, and it was a wonderful experience that I wouldn’t trade for the world. Not long after I reached Korea, there was unrest in one of Kenya’s neighboring countries and the missionaries there were forced to leave. A few of them ended up in Kenya and were able to take the position I had applied for in the first place.

I don’t think it was coincidence that I ended up with a roommate from Korea, or that she was so insistent on my going there. God knew where I needed to be and where other missionaries would need to be.

Recently, I have been praying for guidance and clarity about my writing as a profession and not just hobby. I attended an online conference, and the first speaker seemed to be speaking directly to me. I purchased her book on praying over your writing, and in it she mentioned a book that I purchased in 2012 at another conference. At the same time, I heard about another book on social media and marketing as well as some classes on how to use certain software in social media. I don’t think it was a coincidence.

God put me in the right place at the right time to hear the same themes over and over again from a variety of sources. It was the answer to my prayer complete with resources and training. Not only that, but when I wavered on whether to buy one of the books or pay for a very reasonable course fee, I was given a credit for almost the entire amount of the expense for both.

I believe in synchronicity because there is a deeper intelligence involved: The Holy Spirit. He is at work and moving around us if we will only take a moment to see it. I finished both books from that conference, ordered the other book and signed up for the courses. So, is it coincidence or synchronicity? Either way I think God is trying to speak to us. Are you listening?                                                  

Not Alone

Look to my coming on the first light of the fifth day, at dawn look to the east.

Gandalf – Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers J.R.R. Tolkien

In The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, the battle of Helms Deep looked grim as the enemy surrounded the only entrance and there seemed no hope for victory. It was a long night, but at dawn, Gandalf arrives with reinforcements just as he promised. The Bible is full of God’s promises to His children, but sometimes we have to wait for it to be fulfilled. The waiting time can see like an eternity, but if we keep our eyes focused on God, we will always have hope.

When we are waiting, it is easy to get distracted by the world around us. For example, in 1 Kings we find the story of Elijah who has just prayed down fire from Heaven and wiped out the prophets of Baal. When he hears of Jezebel’s threats, Elijah feels like he is alone in a battle he cannot win and he hides in despair.

14 And he said, I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts: because the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away…18 Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.

1 Kings 19:14, 18

After some rest and nourishment, God tells Elijah that he has seven thousand who are still loyal to Him and that he is not alone in the fight. From our vantage point, we might wonder how Elijah could go from boldly confronting the prophets of Baal to hiding and whining, but it is often after great victories that the enemy will attack us with doubts. Winning a tough victory takes a lot of energy: physical, spiritual and mental. We need to remember that like Elijah we are not alone.

The Lord gave the word: great was the company of those that published it.

Psalm 68:11

Being a writer is often solitary work, but I am not the only one writing the word God has given. He has many other writers, each with their own message to share. Writing groups allow writers to share and encourage one another so that we know that there other people who have been through some of the same issues and some who have had success. By sharing our stories, we build each other up. The trick is to find the right community for you.

Besides finding a like-minded community to offer support and accountability, we also need to ensure that we also take care of ourselves. First, we need to rest because we are more vulnerable if we are tired. Also, we need to make sure we have proper nourishment because hunger is another point of attack. Finally, or maybe firstly, we need to pray so that we are connected to our true source of energy.

Once you have strengthened yourself, then it is time to get back to work. If we sit idle too long, we are subject to remaining idle, which can lend itself to wallowing. This weekend I battled another round with those pesky fleas, which included wrangling two angry cats into carriers and to the vet followed by a thorough cleaning of the house. I took Friday and Saturday off from writing this blog as a result, but I rested, I ate, and I went to church. Now, I am finishing my assignment. So eat, rest, and pray, but don’t wallow. If you lay down with dogs, or cats, and wallow you just wake up with fleas. So, get up and get back to work. It’ll make you feel better.

Drink Deep

A little learning is a dang’rous thing;
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring:
There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
And drinking largely sobers us again.

Alexander Pope An Essay on Criticism

In the yarn shop where I work, we have two peace lilies. Since we are closed two days straight, sometimes the plants don’t get watered, and we find them wilted and limp. However, within a few minutes of a healthy dose of water, they perk up and stand tall and lush. It’s amazing what a good drink of water can do. It’s even more amazing what a drink of living water can do for you.

For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.

Jeremiah 2:13

The peace lilies don’t get a say in where they get their water; they are at our mercy. We, however, can choose where we get our water. In biblical times, there were at least two sources of water: fountains (springs) and cisterns. Of the two, a spring was the preferred source because it flowed continuously from underground, while a cistern was merely a temporary holding of rainwater and was subject to the elements. The Israelites had not only chosen the cistern over the springs, but they had chosen a broken cistern that literally could not hold water.

Spiritually speaking, people do the same thing. They chase after the broken things of this world: knowledge, money and power. Eventually, all of these things will fail. We need to go to the source of unending fountains of water if we want to be truly satisfied. We also need to drink deep of the water. Unlike the lilies, we need more than just a sip now and then. We need continual glasses of water to keep us spiritually healthy. How do we do that?

He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.

John 7:38

First, we have to believe and have a relationship with Christ the source of living water. Then, we need to keep the pipes clear through prayer, Bible study, and worship. It’s not just a sip either. It’s a life dedicated to following Christ’s example, which takes effort on our part. It’s not a 6-week program; it’s a life-long journey. We need to take long drinks so that we can be spiritually prepared to be his hands and feet in the world. He wants to use us for His glory but we are of no use if we are dehydrated.

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

2 Timothy 2:15

So, let’s stay close to the source and take deep drinks so that we can thrive no matter what environment we find ourselves in. The world cisterns won’t hold water, but we know where the true source of life is found and need only to ask and we will receive all we will ever need.

Fear Not!

Fear. A knot forms in my stomach, I clench my jaw, and I feel the world closing in around me. I want to run and hide, but where? Then, I remember the safest place to be, so I go there and find peace and comfort. Where is that, you might ask? It is the presence of God through prayer, Bible study, and worship.

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

1 John 4:18

The enemy’s two biggest weapons are fear and anger. When we listen to the world, all we hear is a good dose of both of these. When we are under spiritual attack and sometimes verbal assault, we have a defense: the sword of the spirit, the Word of God. It is a source of comfort and the only effective means of routing the enemy. We need to remember that is not people we fight against but a spiritual battle (Ephesians 6:12). Spiritual battles require spiritual weapons, so use the Word of God as a source of comfort and a means of taking down our spiritual enemy, Satan, and sometimes we are our own worst enemy.

My readings for #MyHopeNotebook this week emphasized that we don’t have to fear because we have hope in God:

Day 9: The Lord is everywhere.

They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.

Isaiah 11:9

Day 10: I will not be afraid because God can defend no matter how great the size of the enemy.

Many there be which say of my soul, There is no help for him in God. Selah. But thou, O Lord, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head. I cried unto the Lord with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill. Selah. I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the Lord sustained me.I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people, that have set themselves against me round about.

Psalms 3:2-6

Day 11: When we desire the things of God, we will be full of life and firmly planted like a tree.

Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.

Proverbs 13:12

Day 12: With God all things are possible if we believe.

Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.

Mark 9:23

Day 13: We don’t have to fear because we have hope in his mercy.

18 Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy; 19 To deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine. 20 Our soul waiteth for the Lord: he is our help and our shield. 21 For our heart shall rejoice in him, because we have trusted in his holy name. 22 Let thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us, according as we hope in thee.

Psalms 33:18-22

Day 14: We don’t have to fear because no matter what happens God will take us through.

But now thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.

Isaiah 43:1-2

Trials will come. That is a given; however, we don’t have to fear because God is with us. When you feel the fear or anger creeping up on you, turn off the news and social media and open the Word of God. It is a refuge of comfort, peace, and power over the enemy. While you are at it, don’t forget to grab the shield of faith because the Sword will do you no good if you are wounded by the enemy’s darts. Put on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6), and let perfect love cast out fear. Then let the peace of God fill you so that it overflows into an angry world.

Fear not!

Heart’s Desire

Why doesn’t God answer my prayer?

How many times have you heard someone ask this question? How many times have you asked this question? The Bible says in Psalm 37:4 that he will give us the desires of our heart. Usually, the request is for something good, so why isn’t God fulfilling our heart’s desire?

Many times we take verses or phrases out of context without looking at the complete picture. We see the promise, but we don’t look at the requirements for the fulfillment of the promise, or we don’t look at the specifics of the verse in its context.

Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.

Psalms 37:4-5

The first part of Psalms 37:4 says “delight thyself also in the Lord.” What does it mean to delight thyself in the Lord? It means to make God your greatest desire and, like King David, be a person after God’s own heart. If we want what God wants, then we will have the desires of our hearts. While what we are asking for may be good in and of itself, it may not be the best or it may be for the wrong reasons.

So they did eat, and were well filled: for he gave them their own desire; 30 They were not estranged from their lust. But while their meat was yet in their mouths, 31 The wrath of God came upon them, and slew the fattest of them, and smote down the chosen men of Israel.

Psalms 78:29-31

The Israelites were wandering through the desert and cried out for meat. So, what’s wrong with meat? They were hungry, so why shouldn’t they ask for meat? First, they weren’t starving. God had been providing food for them each day. Second, manna was considered food of the angels, the best of the best. The issue wasn’t so much their request as it was their attitude. They were ungrateful. God had provided more than enough food on a daily basis, and they didn’t even have to go find it. It magically appeared each morning. They also were asking for common meat when they were getting the food of the angels.

The results are very different as well. When we commit our way unto God and trust in Him, he will bring about the best for us. The result of asking for desires out of our sinful nature is destruction. The phrase “be careful what you ask for” is very appropriate in this situation. How many times have you begged and pleaded for something only to find out what you wanted had negative consequences? You wanted to stay up late, so you woke up tired and grumpy. You wanted to have another doughnut, so you ended up sick and uncomfortable. The Israelites wanted meat, so they ate until they were sick, and then suffered the wrath of God for their ungrateful attitudes.

You see, it wasn’t that they asked for meat. God had rescued them from the hands of Egyptian bondage through signs and miracles. God had parted the waters so that they could cross on dry land and watch their enemies drowned in the same water. They had been given water out of a rock and manna from Heaven on a daily basis, but it was never enough. The sinful nature is never satisfied, but a spiritual nature that makes God’s desires their own is content. The truth is we don’t know what is best for us. We can’t see what the future holds, but God can. He only wants the best for us, so if we delight in him and let Him have His way, then we will have more than we ever dreamed possible.

Yea, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel.

Psalms 78:41

Nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37), but we can get in the way of God’s blessings when we try to tell Him what to do and how to do it. Someone sang a song at church recently that said I pray that you would “keep me in your will so I won’t be in your way.” When we delight in God, we will be given more than we ever thought possible.

Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us. Ephesians 3:20

He wants so much more for us than we even can imagine. So, delight yourself in the Lord and be a person after God’s own heart, and then watch what He will do.

Persistence of a Cat

2011-09-26 21.31.06

Meep is persistent when she wants something. That’s a polite way of saying she’s pushy. For example, she has a thing about having to share my food whenever I’m eating. I’ve read that some breeds of cats have this tendency, so it may be genetic. However, it is also quite aggravating at times and often ends with her getting her way so that she will leave me alone. She can be quite ingenious in her methods.

One day I was eating my lunch, and as usual she was sitting on the arm of the chair next to me. Every few seconds her paw would come out and tap my arm, or reach for my plate. I would wave her away or try to ignore her. This had been going on for several minutes without results, so she changed tactics. I had a glass of water sitting on the end table in a plastic tumbler. With the precision and audacity only a cat can pull off, she swatted the glass and knocked it over. As the water went pouring out, I jumped up and put my plate on a nearby footstool. I ran into the kitchen to grab a towel. When I returned, I found Meep making off with part of my lunch.

I would have thought it was just an opportunistic grab if she hadn’t tried the same thing a few days later. She had planned the whole thing. From then on, I had to keep an eye on my water glass or use heavier glassware that was harder to turn over. Cats are persistent. When they want something, they will keep trying until they get it, whether it is a bite of your food or just some attention. They rarely take no for an answer. If we applied that level of persistence to our prayer lives, imagine what God could accomplish through us. In Matthew 15:21-28, a woman came to Jesus with a need and refused to leave until the need was met. She had faith that Jesus held the solution to her problem:

 21 Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon.

22 And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.

23 But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us.

24 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

25 Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me.

26 But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs.

27 And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.

28 Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.”

Praying HandsHer request was granted because of her faith in Jesus’ ability to solve her problem and her persistence in asking. We have not because we ask not or we ask for the wrong things (James 4:2). When we pray in God’s will, we can be sure that He will answer our prayers, but we have to be willing to accept His way and His timing. If we are as persistent as the Canaanite woman, or Meep, we will see Him move in our lives because the purpose of prayer is not to change God’s mind; it is to change us so that we are more like Jesus. Keep praying and see what He will do.