Friday, August 14, 2009

Coincidence or Godincidence?

I'm a Christian. Since I've been old enough to rationalize the existence of God I've been a believer. My dad was raised Catholic and my mother Lutheran. Growing up, we attended Lutheran churches with all eight of us taking up most of an entire pew. I can remember that it was a big production to get us all ready for Sunday morning services. It wasn't unusual for my dad to spend part of Saturday night polishing our shoes. T-shirts, shorts and tennis shoes weren't an option. Our parents were sowing seeds that I think for the most part took hold in all of us siblings to varying degrees.

There was a time in the late '90s where I was between churches so to speak. I'd stopped attending Family of Christ where I was a charter member. The church was going through some turmoil which would culminate in the founding pastor's termination. I was disappointed in things that I saw and before too much time I quit going entirely. Occasionally tuning in to one of several Sunday morning church broadcasts would be as close as I'd get to church for a few years.

Some time in the summer of '97 I'd gone to bed on a Saturday night with intentions of getting up the next morning and going for a ride before my afternoon shift at work. I had a vivid dream that night that I was in the home of a friend from high school, John Bodger, and it was 1973 all over again. We were sitting around his kitchen table and talking as we used to. There wasn't much more to the dream than that. It had been ten years or more since I'd seen or heard from John and I wasn't even sure if he was still living in the area.

The next morning before I could get out on my bike I had an urging or prompting that I should skip my ride and go to church instead. Hosanna had just moved into its new building about a mile from my home and for a while I'd been kicking around the idea of giving it a try. I called the information desk to find out what time their services were then made my way over to the church.

I took a seat toward the back and spent several minutes reading the notes in the bulletin while people filtered in. Pastor Bill Bohline began the service by welcoming any visitors and assuring us that our presence at Hosanna this morning was no mistake and that he believed the Lord had led us there. Who was I to disagree? He then asked us to stand and take a moment to greet those around us. There was nobody to my left, I looked to my right beyond the 5 or 6 empty seats between myself and the next person and found myself face to face with John from my dream the night before. Coincidence? I don't think so. I'm not sure if I tried to tell John in that moment what was happening but eventually I would.

I was feeling good about my decision to skip my ride.

I can't remember what Bill spoke about that day but there was one other coincidence, or Godincidence (as I would learn to refer to it) that happened which helped assure me that I was in the right place. My favorite hymn has always been All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name. I'm really not much for hymns but for whatever reason I've always liked this one going back to when I was in grade school. It was also one of the songs they sang at Hosanna that morning. I didn't know it then but Hosanna sings very few traditional hymns opting for more contemporary music. In fact, I can't recall ever singing it again at Hosanna.

I've had no desire to find a different church and have been a regular at Hosanna since that summer morning. It's where I belong.

Where am I going with this blog entry? Stay with me, it gets interesting.

The speaker at Hosanna last Sunday was one of our former pastors, David Housholder. He told of a profound experience he'd had the night before which became the centerpiece for his sermon which was about listening to that inner voice, to those urgings you have but you're not sure why.

David told of his love for the game of soccer and of his admiration for Alan Willey, a player, number 9 for the long ago defunct Minnesota Kicks professional soccer team from the late '70s. David told about how two years ago he wanted to get a Minnesota Kicks jersey with the number 9 on it. He searched the internet but couldn't find one. He contacted a woman he knows who deals in the manufacturing of sports apparel and she told him that there really wasn't much she could do to help him due to copyright laws. Not to be deterred, David pressed on in his quest to obtain the jersey.

David had one other avenue to pursue. In his youth he was hired by Don Byerly to work in one of his Byerly's grocery stores here in the Twin Cities. Don, who would later become owner of the Minnesota Kicks had retired to California where David now lives. David contacted him about getting a release to have the jersey made. Don still remembered him and was happy to help by giving him permission to have a remake of the jersey done; and so he did.

It seems up to this point like a lot of effort for a simple jersey.

He said he'd worn the jersey only a few times in the couple years he's had it but when he left for Minnesota on this most recent trip he brought the jersey with him. Part of his coming here was to speak at the Conference of the Holy Spirit at North Heights Lutheran Church in Arden Hills last weekend.

Just before leaving for the conference David had a change of mind about the shirt he was wearing. He swapped it out for the orange #9 Minnesota Kicks jersey instead and then left to speak. He mentioned that he's usually not one to put much thought into what he wears. If you were to ask him to not look down and describe the shirt he is wearing at any particular time he probably couldn't tell you. On this night though his shirt apparently mattered.

North Heights is a large church and the conference attracted an overflow crowd. After speaking, David stayed around for a couple hours to do some ministry. Toward the end of the night a man approached him and said "I'm Alan Willey". David said that they were both so overcome with emotion that they struggled to find words for one another. Alan said that he had been asking God to show him some sort of sign that he was on the right road and where God wanted him in his life.

How must Alan have felt seated in the audience and to have David come out wearing the jersey he used to wear? And David, standing before a capacity crowd wearing the jersey of a player who was last active in the sport nearly 30 years ago and having that same man just happen to be in attendance. That can't be considered a simple coincidence by any reasonable person. How would you figure the odds on something like that?

There are coincidences in life I suppose but I think that more often than we realize what we're really seeing are Godincidences at work. Look for them, they're there.


John said...

How many Divine Appointments or "Godincidences" do we miss because we don't recognize the Holy Spirit's voice? Since not all "Godincidences" are accompanied by signs, we often have no realization that our actions, words and presence have eternal impacts on the people we encounter.

What if John had decided to sleep in on that Sunday morning? Or if Alan hadn't been in the meeting that night? Our God is an amazing God.

Thanks for sharing.

Kevin said...

You're welcome, John.

So much for a couple of 'controllers' being in control at all, huh?

Anonymous said...

God has a plan for all of us.
Things happen for a reason.

photogopher said...

Pretty amazing stories Kevin but I guess we shouldn't be surprised. Seek and ye shall find. Knock and a door will be opened.
The finding of a friend and the opening of old experiences are more than coincidences.

Kevin said...

I'm beginning to think that there are no coincidences at all.

David Housholder said...

Everything he writes happened as he said! -David Housholder. PS: check out my blog:--

Anonymous said...

Hi John,
I'm Lori Willey, Alan's wife. I want to let you know a little more about what God is still doing with that jersey in Alan's life. He just spoke at a Men's Banquet at a church that was doing a sports theme. Alan shared about his sports career and about his new life in Jesus. Alan became a believer a little over two years ago. Had the jersey event not happened Alan would not have been sharing his testimony with so many men. This is truly a "Godincidence" Jesus bless you! Like someone posted "God has a plan for all of us, things happen for a reason."

Lori Willey