divine appointments

I spend a lot of time with people. They are an important part of life, but they are also an intentional aspect of Christian ministry. Jesus, for example, ministered to multitudes of people, he discipled twelve men, and he focused most on three followers: Peter, James and John. In a similar way, God has entrusted me with the responsibility to serve multiple churches, to disciple several men, and to mentor a few men. All of these people require time, and I often meet them over meals.

Two weeks ago I had a day with no face-to-face meetings scheduled. After a morning of grinding away on my computer, I desperately wanted to get outside and enjoy the warm, sunny weather. Not having a lunch appointment with anyone I took a book along for company. Past experience has taught me that when I bring a book, I don’t get the chance to read it; and when I forget one, the time for reading magically multiplies. So on a whim I left my home office, packed a book, and headed to a nearby Wendy’s.

Once I arrived at the restaurant, I scanned the dining room before I ordered my lunch. There were plenty of empty tables, and I did not see anyone that I recognized. So I ordered my meal and began to anticipate some reading time in the sun-filled dining room. With my meal paid for, I stepped back from the counter and looked at the next person in line. That’s when God presented a divine appointment. Quite unexpectedly I spotted a church friend that I hadn’t seen in at least a year or so. We attend different churches. Immediately we began to chat, and soon we sat down together for lunch.

For the next forty-five minutes we caught up and reflected on God’s manifold grace in our lives. Even though his company has suffered economic setbacks in the recession that have affected his income, he rejoiced in his employment and in new opportunities to serve people. He also told about the ways he uses social media to share Christ with friends around the world. All in all he encouraged me from his faith and life. Then, I shared about our family’s progress on raising financial support to church plant in Scotland, and I expressed gratitude for God’s provision so far. To a lesser extent I encouraged him from my faith and life.

Near the end of our time together, before he had to return to the office, he asked if he could pray. “Of course, that’s a great idea,” I thought so I immediately said, “Yes.” His prayer, even more than our conversation, pointed me Godward. He drew attention to the fact that God had given us a “divine appointment” that day allowing us to meet for lunch. God had graciously orchestrated our plans—mine to read, and his to relax—to remind us both of his loving providence. What had been a dreary day of office work turned into a timely reminder that God places people in our lives for a purpose, pointing us and others to himself.

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