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.

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