Why I Write, Part 1 (or, Knowing God's Specific Plan for Our Lives)



Just over a year ago I published my first blog post:  Even on Garbage Day, God Loves Us.  22 posts later, it’s still one of my favorites.  I didn’t know what to expect when I launched my blog.  Questions circled in my head.  The most important:  Does God want me to do this?

Let me first say thank you for reading.  You have truly been kind and faithful readers.  I appreciate you all, and I hope my blog has been as meaningful for you as it has been for me.  I plan to keep writing.  My commitment is to write until God tells me to stop.



…until God tells me to stop.  That’s a loaded phrase, maybe packed with assumptions.  God has different plans for each of us, but can we really know what He wants us to do…specifically?


What has God planned for us?  How can we know the path He designed for each of us?

Here’s what I discovered:

God is actively telling us His plan.  Knowing it is easier when we listen and watch.


Ears that hear and eyes that see – the LORD has made them both.
Proverbs 20:12


God made our ears and eyes to hear and see our worlds, but He also made them to hear His voice and see His hand (figuratively).  We can hear and see Him in many ways:  through faith and prayer, by reading His Word, in keeping godly fellowship and advice, and so on; but I will address something that seems more elusive.  In this post, we consider things that happen around us, to us, and for us.


Today, I write about how God uses coincidence to deliver His specific messages to us.


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I used to say there’s no such thing as coincidence, but now I believe we can embrace it.  Coincidence is simply the unlikely intersection or concurrence of events or circumstances.  We know things don’t happen by chance, so if we consider that God directs those unlikely situations, or at least allows them, we can approach our winding paths much differently.  We can read coincidences as a form of God’s communication to us.  No matter how often we encounter coincidences (sometimes presenting themselves as irony), none of them happen outside of God’s awareness and orchestration.

When they happen, it’s as if God shows His cue cards – “Go here,” “Say this” – and we might even read His “Bravo” sometimes.  He tells us that the seemingly unrelated chapters in our stories are actually connected like a well-crafted mystery.  Sometimes we might look back with regret or heartache, but even then, we can step forward with confidence – with greater understanding of how our past shapes our future.  The more we recognize coincidences as God’s interaction in our lives, the better we can understand what He wants us to do.


So how do I know, for example, that God wants me to write?


I never expected to become a writer.  I’m well into the latter half of my life, and it’s just not who I have been, especially when I think about these key ironies in my journey.
  • I don’t have a Bible or seminary degree, or any 4-year college degree, for that matter.  I dropped out of a public university to enroll in a Bible college, and the Bible college permanently closed its doors 1 year prior to when I would’ve graduated.
  • I didn’t like my English or Literature classes, and I never (partially) understood grammar until I was in Bible college.
  • I’m a slow reader.  As a kid, I dreaded reading aloud in class.  Even today, when I read silently, I don’t read very fast and I often need to re-read because I drift off.
  • I don’t like reading.  I don’t ‘read for pleasure’ so I don’t read fiction, and I’d rather hear bad voice overs than read subtitles in a movie.
  • As a result of bullets 3 and 4, I don’t have an extensive vocabulary.

I am clearly an unlikely writer.  So how did we get to the point where you’re now reading my blog?


God brought things together over decades and He inserted scores of coincidence and irony in the process.  God led me in slow and deliberate ways while I learned to read His coincidences, give in, and follow.


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Jachobed saw God’s hand when she floated her son down the Nile River.  She did the unheard of, but things fell into place after she released her baby to the river’s flow.  Further downstream, Pharaoh’s daughter actually paid her to care for her own, dear Baby Moses.  But this came only after a few significant coincidences.  It came after a curious and ambitious sister, with no plan of her own, stepped in at just the right time with God’s perfect plan.  It came after a sympathetic princess was not willing to let a baby succumb to the elements of the Nile.  It came after Jachobed humbly agreed to care for a baby whom she could not claim publicly as her own, precious son.  (See Exodus 1:8-2:10.)


God orchestrated these coincidences, and what a blessed reassurance Jachobed received.  Imagine her response.



We may feel like we’re spinning in circles,
but when we walk with God, our steps are perfectly straight




God does the same for us.  What seem like isolated circumstances, God strategically sets into His grand plan, each of us with our own specially designed journeys.  What happens in our lives, even inside of a single day, is directed by God.  Of course, we need to listen and watch with an open heart, ready to follow.


For example, God encouraged me recently when I coincidentally read a post by John Piper.*  He wrote about himself, but he validated what I always accepted as a personal handicap.  He reads at the same speed as he speaks and he hears every word.  Similar to Piper, reading slower than most, I spend more time thinking about the words on the page, rather than speed reading just the highlights.  God made me a slow reader so I can meditate on His words.  This irony of slow reading was designed by God, and I now accept it as a blessing.


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Yet, writing was nowhere in the picture until I launched a Bible study at work 8 ½ years ago.  Most studies were homegrown and many of them I repeated in our home small group, which gave me the opportunity to not only refine the content, but also to develop usable study guides.  Fast forward to 2017 and we have my first published Bible study series­.  More studies to come...


Many authors also have blog sites and social media presence, so I followed that natural track.  I’m on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest to introduce myself to the world.  Being unknown in the published Bible study market, I want to let people know they can trust what I write, so I started a blog.


I wrote, and as I continued writing and reflecting, I saw more and more pieces of my past come together.  It’s a past directed by God, often by way of coincidence, and it's seasoned heavily by His mercy and grace.  As I enter Year 2 of blogging, I recognize that God wants it to be my central focus, with published Bible studies secondary.

As a bonus, God uses my blog to deepen my own relationship with Him because it offers special times of reflection and meditation.


God is actively telling us His plan, so we need to listen and watch.



A person’s steps are directed by the LORD.
How then can anyone understand their own way?
Proverbs 20:24



A student who didn’t graduate from college
received a call to teach.


A slow reader, 35 years later,
received a call to write.


Such irony.

Each coincidence – each message from God – directs my life.


Each coincidence directs our lives.




Ears that hear and eyes that see – the LORD has made them both.
Proverbs 20:12




[More on coincidences later in Part 2 when I write about trusting God to make His plans prosper.]




If you have seen God's hand in your story of coincidence, feel free to share it with me via email at authordlv@att.net.  I’d love to hear about it.




Read more blog posts here.

*John Piper is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary.  He also pastored for 33 years and wrote over 50 books.

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Comments

  1. Hello Stephen

    God-incidents I do believe in Co-incidents I don't which is what you have described in your blog so elequantly - thank you.

    A guy who didn't show up on a time management programme became my business partner.

    A Trainer I was paired with became my best friend, my running buddy and co-author

    A motorbike accident led me to meet John Fitzpatrick who convinced me to find my Faith

    God-incidents

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    1. God-incidents is a great way to say it. Sometimes the incidents speak so strongly that we know they are from God. Isn't it a blessing when recognize that God works things out specifically in our lives and that He does it with purpose? Of course, we need to pair it up with the other ways He speaks to us, but how remarkable it is to enjoy our place in God's bigger picture!

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  2. I found myself nodding a lot during your post. Your journey into writing is similar to mine. I tell people that God has a sense of humor when He decided to encourage me to write. Everything happens for a reason and God is directing the reason. He amazes me as I look back over my life and see how He orchestrated so many circumstances to get me where He wants me to be. Thanks for the great encouragement.

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    1. Hi Yvonne. Doesn't surprise me at all that there are similar stories out there. It's actually encouraging that God fits all the pieces (chock full of funny details) together to make our stories because we have more confidence that we're headed the right direction. Thank you for nodding along with me.

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  3. Great post, Stephen.
    God orchestrates our lives through the most (apparent) insignificant ways at times. We just have our ears and eyes tuned in to see... and the faith to believe they are not mere coincidences indeed.

    Thanks for a great post.

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    1. Isn't that amazing, Patricia? All the unrelated details coinciding, all the ironies, even the impossibilities coming together as God's cue cards. "Do this." "Go there." "Write what I place on your heart." Hearing and seeing it all from God is such a wonderful place to be. Thank you for reading.

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    2. You explain coincidences so well. These so often confirm what we see in God’s Word and feel to be his leading. Then here come the verification of coincidence and the miracle of answered prayers. We step forward then with certainty. It’s nice to learn more about you and how the Lord is using you in miraculous ways through his provision of skills and abilities you never dreamed he would use. I love God’s unexpected actions. He’s so astonishing and refreshing! I’m excited to see what all the Lord does with these gifts he has given!

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    3. Hi Melinda. I think it's amazing how we find a number of coincidence stories in the Bible. Part 2 of this post highlights the coincidences of Ruth and Naomi. But how many times have we seen events in the Bible come together in miraculous ways (e.g., Paul's entire journey from Jerusalem to a Roman prison). God is definitely at work. Thank you for your encouraging comment.

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    4. Hi Stephen,
      Excellent post! I love to hear the ways God displays His creativity and sovereignty in the twists and turns of a believer's life. That he uses us not because of our strengths but inspite of our weaknesses...that seems to be one of God's best plays. When we are weak then He is strong. Thank you for highlighting and heightening my awareness of God's-incidences. I love that phrase. He is moving, Lord, please give eyes to see!
      Blessings,
      Melissa McLaughlin

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    5. I'm glad this was meaningful to you, Melissa. I often feel like my story is just hum drum, but it is exciting to watch God at work. His involvement is not hum drum, not in the least. God bless your journey.

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  4. Great post, Stephen. Loved so much of your content and this, "God is actively telling us His plan. Knowing it is easier when we listen and watch." Amen! And I particularly related to your statements about coincidence. I believe that God is always working behind the scenes on our behalf.

    So enjoyed your first blog post also!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's a wonderful truth, that God is actively working with specific intention in our lives. And I need to remind myself about it often - to listen and watch. Life has a way of distracting me.

      Glad you enjoyed my first blog! Thank you for reading it.

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