The challenge of walking with the God who knows me
Names changed throughout except in some cases where the person involved has been or is in ministry.
If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. 2 Cor 5:17
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“When they came to the border of Mysia they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to.”
It was Saturday morning and I had to go to an early morning prayer meeting. As always I was running a little late as I set off to the north east of El Paso. Being an incredibly spread out city, the trip would take a good half hour even with a clear road. Being late, I was feeling irritable. So, when I came to a red light, I was more than a bit irritated. Why was it that the God of the Universe could not have arranged for that light to be green. Here I was going at the speed limit and it was not as if I was doing anything wrong. I felt like I was being got at. I went on, and a few hundred yards later came to the next traffic light. It too turned red as I came to it! By the fifth light the proverbial ‘steam’ was coming out of my ears as each one in turn had turned red just as I came to it. I had been down this road plenty of times before, certainly enough to know that the lights were not phased. Was this pure ‘coincidence’ or subject to Jesus’ intervention? Why was it that Jesus was not intervening on my behalf? Even worse, why did I feel that he was acting directly against me?
I was really frustrated by the time I reached my destination. I must have been a good fifteen minutes late. On reaching the house, I was just about to park, when I noticed that none of the familiar cars were there. Where was every one? Oh no! The prayer meeting had been moved that week from here in the north east to another house in the centre. I had been going the wrong way!
Suddenly things made sense. Jesus had been intervening all the time. I had imagined him setting out to frustrate me, but the reality was that in his great love he had been trying to point out I was going the wrong way! If I had stopped and been responsive to him, not fighting him or being angry, I might have heard some reminder that the place had been changed. If I had listened right at the beginning, then I could easily have made it on time, for the new location was quite close to my home. Instead, I had assumed that I was right, he was wrong and had been irritated with him. What is even more amazing is that, in his great patience, he took all of the abuse that I was hurling at him and carried on trying to show me my error.
I learnt a lesson that day that was probably more important than making or not making the prayer meeting: A string of coincidences can be a pointer to spiritual activity. I once read a Spy novel in which one of the key figures says, “One accident is sad, two is bad luck, the third shows that it is enemy action.” The coincidences may be positive or negative; the spiritual origin may be of God or permitted of God, or of the enemy, one cannot immediately tell from the outward circumstances. I would liken this situation to Paul’s “I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that I planned many times to come to you (but have been prevented from doing so until now) In order that I might have a harvest among you, just as I have had among the other Gentiles.” (Romans 1:13 NIV) God prevents many times because he has some other purpose. The best thing to do is not to try to go against Him, but to ask Him what is going on.