Life is filled with coincidences. My children still delight in asking me to recount many of the events that have transpired in my life. Be they key or incidental; it makes no difference. They find them exciting and so do I.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” ~ Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
When I was a preschooler, I met a man from New Zealand. He had brought his family to Canada and worked at the same engineering firm as my father for a number of months. Given their similar stages in life, my dad’s boss suggested our families socialise. I have a few vague memories of their time with us.
Years later, there was a knock on the door; I opened it. “Jelly-tot Bob!” I squealed. “Little-one,” he replied, “you remember me!” Somehow the memory of this happy man was deeply etched in me. Bob stayed with us for a few days and showed us pictures of his family back in New Zealand. I was hooked by the time I saw the second photo.
I was away on a French exchange, during my final year of high school, when my parents sold our house in Calgary. They rang and said, “Bob has invited us to visit his family in New Zealand later this year. If you can get a job and save up enough money for your flights, we’ll pay your living costs while we’re there.”
Bob collected us from the Auckland International Airport mid-October ’84. After a brief tour of the city, he took us to his house in the Waitakere Ranges, where we stayed with his family for the next six months.
“Welcome to my home… My house: my rules.”
Apparently, when Dad first met Bob, he identified him as one of “those Christians” who naturally spoke about the love of his life. Being a determined atheist, Dad took Bob aside and advised, “My house: my rules.” Bob respected Dad’s wishes – and waited patiently for the day the tables would be turned.
Bob proved to be a very ‘connected’ and forward thinking man. Not only was he the founder of Inspirational Tapes, the NZ distributor for ‘Everyday with Jesus’ and exercised Christian hospitality by taking in numerous people from all walks of life, but he was part of a group of men who initiated many innovative Christian trusts – including one that operated a campground in Pauanui, Coromandel. Bob arranged for me to work at The Glade as a volunteer for the summer, alongside his daughter. There I met many wonderful people, realised the extent of my situation, the truth of the Gospel and gave my life to Christ.
One of those key people was Viv, a missionary on furlough from the slums of Manila. He too had previously been on the receiving end of Bob and Prue’s hospitality and he advised me to tell my parents about my decision and ask Bob to baptize me in one of his ponds when I returned to Auckland.
Before returning to Canada, God told me he would bring me back to NZ in two years. I felt homesick as I passed through the gates of the departure lounge…
“When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things.” ~ 1 Corinthians 13:11 (NLT)
Upon our return to Canada, Dad pointed out that I was 18 and that it was time I grew up. My sister and I rented a basement suite in a house mid-way between the university and technology institute, where I studied architecture. I also found a Bible believing church with a supportive congregation and fantastic youth group to help establish me in my faith.
A recession hit Western Canada as I graduated, but that didn’t concern me because a still, small voice reminded me that two years were up… “I’m preparing the way for you to return to New Zealand.”
A letter from an architectural practice arrived in the mail so, I rang and asked how they heard about me. “Someone showed me an ad in an architectural magazine. It has your name, age, address, qualifications and says you want to work in New Zealand.” I was offered a job and moved to New Zealand two weeks later… I didn’t place the ad.
Coincidences happens when our lives coincides with God’s plans.
In other words, coincidence is a God-incidence
Take another look at 1 Corinthians 13:11. Even as an unbeliever my father would have agreed whole-heartedly with the text, but this is how I read it:
When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child.
I believed everything my father said and did…
and suffered the consequences of an abused childhood…
because I existed under his domination.
But when I grew up, I put away childish things.
I saw reality and took hold of life under God’s authority and protection.
Most importantly, because I grew up I forgave my father of his sins against me…
just as My Father (God) forgives me of mine against Him (Matthew 6:12).
I’d love to hear about some of your “coincidences”. Please, post them below. Your faith will grow and you will inspire others. And share my story with others if you feel it may encourage them.
GayannGayann and her husband, Stephen, have provided web design and email communication support to NZCN since 2006. She has home schooled their two children for the past nine years, but was ‘made redundant’ at the start of 2013. Since then, she has taken a more active role with NZCN. Her family fellowships at Grace Church, Auckland – which is part of Newfrontiers. Read more of Gayann’s stories by selecting her name in the tag list below.