Every Saturday morning, a few of us come together to meet and pray with one another. Sometimes it’s personal prayer requests one of us might have brought to the table. Sometimes it’s petitions on behalf of another person we know who has an ailment, in a difficult predicament, or just requiring prayer. But almost always, we pray for our church, our leaders and ministries and the people attending.
As we met yesterday, the three of us shared and prayed together. It was like every other week. Only this time, someone happened to wander in.
He had walked past our building, noticed our sign on the front of our building, actually stopped to read it, and glanced through into the window where our room was. He looked in and looked curious. I proceeded to ask him if he was alright, by which he asked about our Chinese Church, he was welsh, he was visiting… Next thing, we invited him in, and before you know it, he was sharing about how he was here for a funeral, had some issues within his family, was really discouraged. It was crazy because at the right place, at the right time, he happened to walk past our church. At the right place, at the right time, he happened to see us in the room, as we were meeting for prayer and as it turned out, he really needed prayer. And so we prayed for him.
I personally was encouraged at the timing of it all, how God knew that this man needed encouragement and prayer, and just so happened to walk past our church while he was on his way out to town to do a little shopping.
I was encouraged how God led him into our church and we had the privilege of praying for this brother.
Indeed, there are no coincidences with God. God’s timing is impeccable. Things seem to happen at the right place, at the right time.
Our meeting usually finishes round about noon. And after we said our goodbyes, I stayed behind at church to get some work done. A friend came by to help share the load of work (just some preparation before youth summer camp!) she came along, and after a few hours of sharing the labour with me, a youth, Jimmy, just so happened to walk past church, and see us working through the window. And because he was just going back to his brother’s apartment, he didn’t have much to do, so Jimmy joined us for a little bit too. Eventually my friend had to leave, so Jimmy and I continued on. I just kept thinking in my head, it’s such a blessing having people help with preparation work. And on top of that, I get to spend good quality time with others having good conversations while doing work too. I just thought, wow, thank you God. It just so happened that Jimmy walked past. And again, in my head, I was reminded that there are no coincidences with God. God knew I needed a helping hand, and I guess God planned for me to have some interesting good conversations with Jimmy.
Eventually it got really close to dinner time, and with grumbling tummies, Jimmy and I packed up our work station, called it a day, and we proceeded to somewhere cheap to have dinner. So we went to our usual Chinese-eatery/takeaway place we usually go to on a Sunday afternoon with our youth group (if we wanted something that wasn’t from Tescos). We ordered our food, it came, we started eating. And because Jimmy and I were talking about signs from God, I proceeded to tell him about my story of when God used signs to speak directly to me to call me into missions and ministry. (It involves some numbers of 123. It’s a long story for another day, but if you’re interested, I’d be happy to share this story with you if you ask me directly!)
I shared my story with Jimmy over dinner. And by the time I got to the bit I had vaguely shared about at the iD retreat 2 weeks ago, concerning how God kept speaking to me by giving me Psalm 121, through three different people that had no connection to each other and all in a space of one week, it came to the end of my story. I finally concluded, that there simply are no coincidences with God, if God wants you somewhere, He’ll get you there. If God wants to speak to you, it’ll be at the right place, at the right time. His timing is impeccable. No coincidences, but rather, it is God’s providence, showcasing His Sovereignty.
And just as I finished my story, perhaps I was so immersed with reflecting and simply remembering and recollecting an old anecdote of God’s goodness, I suppose I didn’t notice her. But a lady, had been listening to my account whilst waiting for her take-away food. I’m not sure for how long for, as I had no recollection of her walking into the Chinese-eatery. But she came up to our table (me and Jimmy were the only two left eating in the place), and she said to me “Thank you for sharing your story, and thank you for that Psalm, I just read it and it’s amazing timing, because I needed that encouragement.” And then she quickly scuttles off to the door. I was gob-smacked.
And as Jimmy and I were making our way out of the shop, I kept thinking, wow. This whole day, God’s timing has been impeccable. Each instance had been planned and ordained by God. His perfect timing. At the right place, at the right time.
I was tremendously encouraged by that passer-by who needed prayer.
I was tremendously encouraged to have had spent time with Jimmy having good conversations (because Jimmy’s awesome! And there’s never enough one-to-one times with youths sometimes!)
And I was tremendously encouraged how God used me while I was recounting my testimony, and that God wanted that lady to be encouraged by Psalm 121.
All of this happened because God is sovereign, almighty and powerful. All according to his timing.
Tonight I listened to a sermon, and it mentioned how in Acts 12, Peter was arrested and put into prison. But God sent an angel to go on a rescue mission to help Peter escape out of prison—God’s timing, again, is insane, because in Acts 12:5, it said that the church was earnestly praying to God for Peter. Shortly after that their prayers were answered and Peter was knocking on the door of the house of fellow believers.
It made me think, yeah, God answers prayer, God makes things happen according to his plan, God does it according his timing.
And that led me to think about Peter, why was he in prison? He was being persecuted for spreading the gospel. And that made me think about this morning’s sermon at church, Bert did a “World Today” sermon, looking at the recent affairs in the news. He talked about the recent conflict between Israel and the Palestinians; the Ukraine situation and the bombed plane; as well as the current situation in Iraq of the Christians given three choices: convert to Islam, pay or die.
I thought about the persecution going on out there for fellow brothers and sisters. And wow, it’s heart breaking to hear of all the suffering going on out in the world too.
But then I felt, actually, we have an even bigger God.
A God, who, throughout the whole of yesterday was reminding me His timing is impeccable, I’m reminded today, that we should continue to trust in Him, and to do as what the church did when Peter was in jail, to “earnestly pray”.
God leads people to Him. God makes things happen. God encourages the broken.
We need to keep praying.
And my prayer is this: let us be a house of prayer, a body of believers that keep communing intimately with God, daily. May we never forget that things happen, with God’s hand, at the right place, at the right time. And may God’s power and sovereignty help the afflicted, may they be led by the Holy Spirit to receive encouragement, led to have wisdom and discernment, and may they be reminded that Christ paid the price of them. Amen.