Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happenstance or God's Guidance

Happenstance refers to a chance occurrence (Collins English Dictionary) or a chance event. An event that appeared to have happened without an apparent cause, also described as a coincidence.
The story of Ruth is a clear case of happenstance versus God’s guidance. In order to feed herself and her mother-in-law, Naomi, Ruth had decided to go and glean after the reapers. In Chapter 2 verse 3, the phrase “she happened to” jumped at me. It caught my attention and held me captivated—she happened to stop at the corner of the field belonging to a man called Boaz. But did she really find herself there by chance?
I have read the Book of Ruth a few times in the past and had even done an in-depth study when I wrote an article on Mother and Daughter-in-law relationship but not once did I take note of that phrase the way I did that morning.
It was not by chance or coincidence that Ruth ended up in the field belonging to the man who would later redeem her. It was a divine appointment. Events in our lives don’t just happen. It is amazing how God uses small and seemly inconsequential events to orchestrate His larger plan for our lives. The story of Ruth and Boaz is an example of God designed connection. In her search for favor, God guided her by His unseen hands to where He had providentially prepared untold favor and kindness for her.
The story of my life is replete with many examples of such happenstance and connections which later became a catalyst for a chain of events that have brought untold blessings to my life or a springboard with which God launched me to a new and flourishing level. Here is one example of such “chance occurrence.”
In October 1992, I was invited for an interview as a Nutrition Officer with an international agency. I prepared as best as I could for the interview. As I left the office, the day before the interview to travel to the city where it was holding, I passed by my friend’s office. I ‘happened’ to look up to the book shelf overhead and an orange-colored publication caught my attention. I pulled it out and it was …Nutrition Goals for the 1990s. Needless to say, I read the volume all through the 150km-trip to Lagos and half the night. The following morning, every question I was asked at the interview came from that book!
Three months later, I received a phone call to take up the position. I learnt later that there was a bit of a debate following the interview because I had the least number of years of experience for the position but my performance far outweighed all contrary argument. Simply because a brightly colored publication which had been on the shelf for at least a year happened to catch my attention at that moment I was leaving for the interview. That was not a happenstance or coincidence but divine guidance. It was also the beginning of a 15-year-long career with the organization.
Sometimes it is difficult to see how a chance event could have been guided by the Hands of God especially when it seems to cause so much pain and distress. When we know that we are not a product of chance but every event in our lives in being used of God to work out His ultimate purpose, we can be assured that even in that contrary or adverse situation God is working out something good in our lives. His thoughts towards us are thoughts of good. He works all things together for our good.
These chance events are small pieces of a jigsaw fitting together into the large picture God has of our lives. So don’t despise the days of small beginnings. You will be amazed what God is using that small event in your life to prepare you for.
Will you trust God to guide you by His unseen hands to the place He has prepared for you ahead of time?
Irene O. 

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