I wonder how often “coincidences” are not really coincidences? How many times is God at work, and we don’t even notice?

This past Friday I wondered what happened. I didn’t manage to get a haircut before Thanksgiving, so I planned to get one on Friday or Saturday. When I arrived at the barbershop on Friday morning, I found out that they were closed until Monday. This didn’t work for me, because I was leaving on Monday to go to Cabinet meetings in Phoenix. Anyone else ever dread having to find a different barbershop? I found a barbershop online and decided to go to it. I called to make sure that they were open. This barbershop is located in a shopping center in Green Valley that uses suite numbers for each of the businesses. I went to suite 13, which was indicated online, and it was a different business. Most of these stores were closed the day after Thanksgiving, and I was parked in an empty parking lot. I went back to my car to see if I could look up a different address for the barbershop, but they all showed the same address. A car then pulled in next to me, and the driver was pointing a finger at me. What could I have done when I wasn’t even moving?

The driver ended up being a seasonal resident who used to attend one of my churches. I explained my challenge. He started to give me directions to his barbershop, which turned out to be the barbershop that I normally go to. He then said that he kind of remembered seeing a barbershop on the other side of the shopping center when he and his wife had gone to the Happy Quail. I had no clue what the Happy Quail was. My best guess was a restaurant. Just now I looked it up and found out that it is an arts and crafts store. I’m already planning on going to it! When I drove over by the Happy Quail, I quickly saw the barbershop. Was this just a coincidence? How did he even see me sitting in my car?

That Friday afternoon I was taking my walk when I saw a man climbing a ladder by himself onto his house. He was looking for Christmas lights that were burned out. When I saw him, I had a flash of memories go through my mind where people fell off un-held ladders. The one that bothers me the most is where one of our Alaska pastors was on a mission trip and fell off a ladder as he climbed onto the roof. He hit his head on some cement, and after a short period of time, died. If he had someone holding the ladder, or had the ladder tied off, things might have been different. I don’t know what the man thought when I asked if it would be OK if I held the ladder when he came down. He said “yes,” and we had some time to visit before he was ready to come down. He seemed to appreciate my help in getting the ladder down, too. Was God nudging me to help?

On Sunday morning our daughter went with me to church. This was our last full day together before she returned to her home on the East Coast. I picked a church that was close by so that we wouldn’t have to leave too early. I usually would have walked around visiting before the service, but since my daughter was with me, we sat down right away. I said “hi” to a couple that walked past our pew, and then I realized that they were sitting right behind us. I had the urge that I needed to turn around and talk to them. It turns out that they were long-time United Methodists who just moved to Arizona five weeks ago. This was their second time visiting the church. We talked until the service started, and then again after the service. For the last nineteen years they have lived in Wyoming. As we talked about the difference in the climate, they said that where they lived before Wyoming was even colder. They had lived in Alaska. We found that we lived in Alaska at the same time, and we know some of the same people. Was this just a coincidence that we were sitting close to each other?

A common part of my role as a District Superintendent is to do video meetings on my computer via a program called ZOOM. This last week when I logged onto a ZOOM meeting, I couldn’t hear the other participant. She could hear me, but I couldn’t hear her. I assumed that she had a problem and suggested various things that she should try to fix it, including turning up her volume (I didn’t fully think that one through). I even had her log off, and then log back on. I was a little bit embarrassed when I figured out that I was the one with the problem, and that my computer’s volume was turned off. It is common for people to tell me that they never hear God speaking to them, and that they are not aware of any nudging. Is this because God isn’t speaking, or we are not hearing God? This is a good season of the year to make sure we have our volume turned up, and our focus is on listening to God.

Your brother on the journey, Mark

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