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?                                                  

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.

Test Prep

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

When do you study for a test? Do you start from the moment you are given new material, or wait until the last minute and try to cram all the information into your head at once? Either method could work, but what won’t work is waiting until you are in the midst of the test to try to learn the material.

I remember having to take an open book test once and everyone was so excited. Many of the students decided they didn’t have to study because they could just look up the information. However, when we got the test, I was thankful that I had already read and marked the chapters because it was easier and quicker to find the answers. Since there were a ton of questions to answer, it was possible to run out of time before completing the test. It pays to prepare.

The truth is that tests are always coming. Most of the ones we face in life are not given a letter grade. Sometimes it is pass or fail, and sometimes it is comportment or how we behaved. So, how do we prepare for life’s tests? I have found I get the best results from good study habits.

But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

Matthew 6:7

First, we have to actually study, which means reading the material, taking notes, and even memorizing verses. However, memorizing only takes you so far because memorizing is not the same as learning. Ever memorize information long enough to take a test and then promptly download the information afterwards? If you really want to pass life’s tests, you have to let the words seep into your soul so that when you find yourself in the midst of a test, the words will come back to you. We do this by meditating on the words and what they mean.

But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

James 1:22

Second, we need to do more than just meditate. James tells us that we have to do more than just listen or read the words; we have to do what the words say. When studying any topic, you learn by applying what you are reading. I can read a knitting pattern all day long, study the notes, and look at the pictures, but if I never pick up my knitting needles, the pattern is relatively useless.

Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.

Philippians 4:9

We learn by practicing, knowing that we probably won’t always get it right, but we will get better. We can’t just do it one time and do it perfectly. We have to keep doing it on a consistent basis to maintain our skill level and even improve.  The end result is the peace of God in our lives even during the test.

With that in mind, you might want to get a jump start on studying because you never know when there might be a pop quiz on the horizon. I often find that God uses my daily Bible reading to prepare me for what is coming next. It’s not a pass or fail on a pop quiz that I worry about though. My goal is a “well done good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23). So don’t beat yourself up over a failure because learning from your mistakes is still learning, and God is looking for those with a willingness to learn. Are you ready?