Has something like this ever happened to you?
– My Bible reading plan just started me reading the Gospel of Mark.
– They’ve just begun preaching through the Gospel of Mark at church.
– I’ve just begun a freelance writing assignment that has me working through the Gospel of Mark.
Some would dismiss this confluence of Scripture study focus in my life as a coincidence, but I think that by doing so, they silence the whisper of God. There’s a materialistic, pragmatic way of thinking about these events that shrugs its shoulders and says, “Stuff like this randomly happens.” Or worse, a claim that assigning meaning to these events is the domain of a person desperate to hold onto a childish faith.
I hear and understand the concerns of those who assess life in this way. I’ve been stung by people who’ve proclaimed meaning to a gathering of like events in someone else’s life as if they’re speaking the oracles of God (“You’re sick…again? Seems pretty obvious to me that God is telling you to rest”). Some exhibit an itchy trigger finger when it comes to extracting meaning out of a series of events. Though I think, for example, that at minimum God is directing my attention to the Gospel of Mark, I am also confident that this may be a starting place to something deeper, if only I walk into this 3-D, surround-sound encounter with Mark’s Gospel with hearing eyes and seeing ears. Meaning and mystery are in tension here, and I can usually live with that. The tension shoves me forward on my journey toward the Lord.
So – where do you fall on the scale? Are you more comfortable living with the idea of random coincidence? Or do you search for sense in the events of your life?