Tag Archive for God’s guidance

Divine Coincidence

“Speak, for Your servant is listening.” (1 Samuel 3:10, NASB)

Have you discovered that Almighty God wants to take part in your daily work? Here’s one example from my own experience.

Matching a hymn text with the right tune can be tricky, painstaking business. But years ago I began receiving tune ideas from the Lord. Sometimes I would hear an original tune in my head. Other times I would feel prompted toward a folk or classical tune in one of my sources. I would set the tune aside in my “pending” pile, put it out of my mind, and go on with my work.

Then within days the Lord would give me a lyric idea separately, from my Bible study or from an audio book I was listening to. Sometimes it happened the other way around. The text idea would come first, then the tune.

What was amazing was how often I’d find the perfect match for the text or tune there near the top of my “pending” file. I had forgotten about the first one until the second showed up and I went looking for a mate. The two had come to me entirely separately, though in the same time frame.

At first, I considered it mere coincidence. But it began to happen so regularly that I coined a term for it: divine coincidence.

But it wasn’t just texts and tunes that came together so marvelously. Often a thought or scripture would come to me from my daily reading or listening that was exactly what I needed for some current writing endeavor. I hadn’t gone looking for it. It just jumped out at me.

Some would explain such phenomenon as the subconscious working of the mind. And I can’t claim to explain all the workings of this amazing brain the Lord has given us.

But God regularly uses divine coincidence to remind me that He deeply, personally, constantly cares about my daily activities. My work is His work, and He doesn’t abandon me to it. He works beside me all day, every day. The Spirit of the sovereign, almighty, universal God works through me. He will work through you as well. How wonderful is that!

Father, all our work is Your work. Keep us open. Keep us listening. Keep us dependent on You.

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21, NASB)

Father, though I am small,
weak, and
O so brief,
You are almighty,
all-wise, and
As I trust You,
You accomplish Your beautiful purpose
through me.

Hymn: God’s Mysterious Ways

Immersed in God

Father, when I focus on myself,
I get lost in the darkness of my
childish fears and
frustrated desires.
I am a prisoner in my own smallness.

But when I look up at the night sky,
I am immersed in Your glorious immensity,
O Sovereign God,
Eternal Creator,
my Lord,
my Father!
You who guide all this universe
guide my life as well,
as I simply trust You.

I am Your dear child,
Your treasure,
and You leave nothing to chance.
You embrace me every moment
in Your mighty arms and
in the blanket of Your perfect love.

O Father,
my Father,
I am Yours!
I rest
right here in You!

Listen and sing:
Hymn: Speak, I Am Listening
Printed Music & Lyrics

Lord, I Am Listening

Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening. (1 Samuel 3:9, NIV)

What a great encouragement when I learned for myself that God delights to speak to us. He knows how to speak to us, and He will speak to us. We don’t have to strain to hear Him or work up just the right frame of mind.

But He doesn’t shout. We need to listen.

He doesn’t insist. We need to obey. He will let us ignore Him if we choose.

We need to read the Bible with our heart and mind tuned to listen and to obey Him.

Speak, Lord.
I am listening.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: God Is Speaking
Printed Music & Lyrics

Follow One Leader

When he, the Spirit of truth, comes,
he will guide you into all truth.
(John 16:13, NIV)

So many valid concerns, so many worthy goals, so many good things call for our attention. Focus on one aspect of your life, and other aspects seem to suffer. Care for one need, and you ignore other equally important needs.

How do we balance them all? How do we listen to all the voices calling for our attention?

Jesus gives us the freedom to follow only one leader.

He is our one Lord. He is our one source of all wisdom and all goodness.

He calls us to love Him above anything. He invites us to turn to Him whenever we need wisdom (James 1:5).

If we will listen, He will lead.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: One in Jesus
Printed Music & Lyrics

Lord, Give Me Light

[Jesus] said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness.” (John 8:12, NIV)

Lord, give me light from Your side of reality today.
Don’t leave me here in the darkness of
my own little plans and

Talk to me about what You see as important.
Lead me into what You want me to do.
Teach my heart to feel
what You feel
where You’re sitting.

Lord, give me light from Your side of reality today.
Don’t leave me here in the darkness of
my own little plans and

I don’t want this to be an empty day,
a self-centered day.
As I pause, Lord, draw me closer.
Teach me about You.
Use me as would please You, Lord.
I love You.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: I Only Want to Walk in You
Printed Music & Lyrics

Turning Points

Sometimes God’s hand is only visible in the rearview mirror. Life’s major turning points may masquerade as the small and ordinary. They only loom large when seen in retrospect.

I was 22 and in my first and only year of graduate school, pursuing a master’s degree in music composition at the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati. My life plan was to compose classical music and teach at the university level.

The course was “Introduction to Graduate Studies”, designed to teach us some of the basics of graduate-level study. The instructor had assigned us to prepare an annotated bibliography—a bibliography with brief descriptions for each book entry. Any subject would do.

I was also minister of music and youth director at a small church in Cincinnati. Killing time before an appointment, I was sitting alone in my pastor’s study, idly looking over the books on his shelf. One caught my eye. It was a thin, black, clothbound book with “Wesley Hymnbook” on the spine. I began reading the introductory material, and it caught my interest. Methodist hymnody seemed as good a subject as any for my assignment.

Of course, to prepare the bibliography, I had to find and familiarize myself with other books on Methodist hymnody. Up to this point my interest had been classical music, not church music. But the more I read about Methodist hymns, the more I got hooked. Soon I was haunting local used bookstores, hunting for old hymnals. (Side note: nearly 15 years later, having built up a collection of about 1,000 hymnals, I sold them to friend and composer Tom Fettke and purchased my first computer.) In addition to old hymnals, I bought newer collections of hymns and Christian songs and hungrily perused them. I even went to the rare book room at the University library and photocopied entire old hymnals for study.

When that school year ended, so did my classical music studies. Instead, I accepted a job as college music instructor at God’s Bible School there in Cincinnati. Among the courses I taught were hymnology and the history of church music, with my personal study as my only preparation.

After two years teaching, I decided to apply to Nazarene Theological Seminary in Kansas City. I was driven by a strong interest, not in pastoring, but in biblical languages and theology. Some at the seminary saw my application and connected me with Nazarene Publishing House, which was looking for a music editor at the time. I started work there in June, 1975, and stayed until the end of 2009. I never went to seminary, except to audit a course now and again.

Soon after starting at NPH, I learned that Wesley Hymnbook had been one of their biggest flops ever. My pastor had a copy in his study only because NPH had given them as gifts to graduating seniors at Nazarene Theological Seminary.

But that terrible publishing investment got them a music editor, director, and product developer for 34 years. And it ignited in me a lifelong enthusiasm for hymns.

Our magnificent, incomprehensible God changes and redirects lives every day. Sometimes He reveals Himself through a dramatic divine encounter. We are struck down by a brilliant light like Saul on the road to Damascus, or we suddenly find ourselves on holy ground, standing before a burning bush. But sometimes God’s hand is artfully subtle. He lights a tiny fire deep in the heart of a young person—a fire that in time becomes an all-consuming passion.