What is a coincidence? I went to M-W.com, and found the definition listed as:
- the act or condition of coinciding : CORRESPONDENCE
- the occurrence of events that happen at the same time by accident but seem to have some connection; also : any of these occurrences
Do you ever look at two events, and believe that instead of being related by accident, they are connected by God? In his book, Prayer, Yancey calls these "God-incidents." He's certainly not the first person I've heard use that word.
- A week ago Thursday night, dinner was being prepared at our church to feed our Common Grounds congregation. Hilda, our church hostess, felt a need to add more ground beef to the chili, so she did. The night before, there had been a fire in a business across the street from our church, and the firemen had been working around the clock to deal with its consequence. That night, our church fed the fireman, too. One volunteer told our class the next week that they had the exact number of sandwiches and the exact amount of chili to make that happen.
- When we started our Wednesday night class, we ordered books for those who wanted them. JtM and I decided to go ahead and order a few extras so that if other people stepped forward to take the class, we would have books available for them. I "guessed" at the number of books to buy. Every book we bought found an owner, and no extra were required. We had exactly the number of books we needed.
If you read this blog with any regularity, then you may have noticed that I've talked about others. They happen all the time, and I think they are nudges from God to remind us that he is with us, and he doesn't want us to forget that.
We can't prove that they are God-incidents, and not just plain coincidences. C.S. Lewis says, "The impossibility of empirical proof is a spiritual necessity." Yancey goes on to quote Lewis, saying, "Only faith vouches for the connection. No empirical proof could establish it." We don't believe that what we see are God-incidents because of proof. We believe God intervenes in the world because of faith.
Does that have anything to do with prayer? I think it may have everything to do with prayer. We bring our concerns to God, and we have faith that he will act in the world. We have faith that he wants us to work with him to achieve his will in the world. Again, quoting Yancey, "Trusting God's character, we can see in the relation between our prayer and an event more than coincidence. We see a true partnership, intimate and intertwined."
Look at the definition of coincidence again. Notice the word "Correspondence." That word is defined as "the agreement of things with one another." A God-incident is a way in which we can know that we are in agreement with God -- that our method of communication for our partnership (prayer) is working, and that our will is aligned with his.
One more quote from Yancey:
A rabbi taught that experiences of God can never be planned or achieved. "They are spontaneous moments of grace, almost accidental." His student asked, "Rabbi, if God-realization is just accidental, why do we work so hard doing all these spiritual practices?" The rabbi replied, "To be as accident-prone as possible."
Image: Trees and winter sun at VA.