(The Introduction to the book ‘THE CURIOUS CASE OF THE CONSTIPATED CAT!’)
Just Coincidences? – Come On!
Malcolm was a builder, but also a pilot. In fact, he had a flying school. Some businessmen had asked him to fly them to meetings in various parts of the UK, and now he was with 5 of them in his plane on a runway at RAF Valley in North Wales, unable to take off because of dense fog. The control tower radioed him and told him to go back to the hotel as nothing and nobody would be taking off that day. “Sorry – we have to abandon this flight today,” he explained to his passengers.
“But Jesus controls the weather, and gives us authority” piped up Colin in the back. “Let’s take that authority now,” and Colin told the fog to lift ‘in Jesus Name!’ Around 15 minutes later the fog lifted, the control tower announced they could take off, and a somewhat bemused Malcolm pulled back on the throttle, nosed up into a clear blue sky, and flew his passengers back to Norwich.
Back home, Malcolm telephoned the airport and thanked them for their help with his visit there. “You’re the lucky one,” they told him with a chuckle. “The fog unexpectedly lifted, we gave you clearance to take off, which you did. And twenty minutes later the fog descended again for the rest of the day, just like the forecast said, and we are still closed now.”
Colin prayed. The fog lifted. What a coincidence!
* * *
“Come round for tea next Sunday, and we’ll toast crumpets over the fire and drown them in butter!” It was Sid and Judy’s first time at our church, and I wanted them to feel welcome.
They duly arrived, and we enjoyed tea, crumpets and good humour. But as the afternoon progressed, there were tears as the subject of their son came up. He was estranged, addicted, and on a slippery slope leading to the mortuary. We prayed together before they left.
The next Sunday when we arrived at church, we saw there was a rather smart young man standing there with Sid and Judy. Guess who?
What a coincidence!
* * *
Bathsheba had been my first real pet, and she had outlived the other two cats that had become part of our household after her. And now my beautiful Siamese was languishing on her rug, unable to eat or indeed, to pass anything, and the vet said that ‘her insides were no longer working’ and that this was the end. She was 15, which I was told made her quite an elderly Siamese. Before leaving for the surgery that morning, I felt a sudden urge to reach out my hand towards her and pray that the power of God would come upon her and ‘clean her out’.
When I returned home at lunchtime, I could hardly believe what I saw – and smelt! And Bathsheba was howling around my ankles, asking to be fed. Guess what had happened.
What a coincidence!
* * *
Supper had been good – excellent food prepared by wonder-wife Wendy, and a buzz of conversation as we got to know Duane (not his real name), a somewhat Bohemian gentleman, and his more conventional partner. Now we were around the log fire in our sitting room and the atmosphere changed, as Cherie fought back tears and spoke of a rift in their family that was clearly causing great distress. I suggested we prayed, and knelt beside them by the sofa.
The next time we saw Duane and Cherie, they excitedly told us how the person concerned had texted them a reconciliatory message while they were with us. On returning home, they had found the text on Cherie’s mobile phone, flashing away on a table and giving the time of the text – exactly the time we had prayed together for this.
What an amazing coincidence!
* * *
Bob and Sue were new to our church and life was not easy for them. So they came to supper at our home, with wonder-wife Wendy serving up more excellent fayre while we got to know one another a little better.
Then on to the sitting room, log fire and coffee. “We’ll have to go soon,” said Bob. “I have to work tonight.” We expressed surprise, as we understood he had worked all day.
“You’re right,” said Sue. “He has to work all hours, some unpaid, and he’s tired out with it.”
I suggested we pray, and Wendy and I drew our chairs alongside the sofa and proceeded to bring the situation to the Lord.
Less than three minutes later, the husband’s phone rang. It was his work… and guess what they said? The situation there had changed, and they no longer required him to work that evening.
“That was quick,” said Sue. It certainly was.
What an amazing coincidence!
* * *
It was the early days of the Internet for me, and I found I could converse with people around the world, even in Australia, by typed messages in ‘real time’. One of my new Christian friends, Greg, who lived in Australia, sent me a message, asking if I could pray for his marriage as after many years of tolerating each other, he and his wife had decided to separate and divorce. But he felt it was all so wrong.
I emailed that I would do so, turned my chair away from the computer and prayed to the God of the Bible. As I did so, the email arrived nine and a half thousand miles away in Australia. At that moment, Greg’s wife walked into his study, caressed his shoulders and … guess what she said?
What a coincidence!
* * *
We live in a world that is heavily influenced by the media, and the prevailing fashion for scepticism about all things spiritual. We personally know one man in particular who is almost aggressive in his refutation of anything the Lord has done in my life or anybody else’s – or, in fact, of anything the Lord has ever done. So, when I speak of how, following the laying on of hands and prayer, I was healed of an ‘incurable’ (the consultant’s words) disease around twenty years ago, and have neither suffered pain nor taken any tablets since, he explains that it is just a coincidence. Likewise, Wendy and I have told him how, following a complex fracture, a boy’s arm was fixed with plates and metal pins, leaving it immoveable and painful. Yet the arm simply straightened out in front of us when we prayed for it, and again our friend explains that it is just a coincidence. And with regard to the other instances related above, he explains that they are coincidences. So likewise with innumerable other answers to prayer, healings, miracles and strong indications of the presence and power of the God we read of in the Bible, he explains that they are merely coincidences.
* * *
We used to live in an age where the default position of most people in the UK was Christian. However, I write in the second decade of the twenty-first century, at which time a most significant change has taken place in the worldview held by so many people here, not least the media. The result is that the default position of most people today is secular. If prayer is answered, if miracles happen, if God intervenes in people’s lives… it is simply a coincidence.
I will not try to argue a case for the God of the Bible as he is well able to make himself known to those whose hearts and minds are open. To me, the evidence is quite overwhelming. But for people who believe in remarkable coincidences, I would like to entertain them with a selection from my own experience.
And of course, there are also those of us who will be tempted to explain the coincidence with… wow, it’s a miracle!
(I have used the term ‘the God of the Bible’. Why? – because I have found the term ‘God’ to be rather ambiguous. “I believe in God,” some say, and then proceed to speak of him as a divine but impotent being who cannot intervene supernaturally today, or perhaps imply he is a divine, benign Softie, who would never get angry, let alone preside over judgement as described in scripture. So I sometimes clarify, with the term, ‘the God of the Bible’ – he loves us, he can be provoked to anger, he is as described in the Bible – and can do absolutely ANYTHING!)
* * *
William Temple was an archbishop in the Church of England, and he made a quote, which became well-known amongst Bible believing Christians in the mid-nineteenth century. He said, “When I pray, coincidences happen. When I don’t pray, coincidences don’t happen.” I heartily agree with what he said, and for the past year or two, as I have mentioned already, have jotted down occasions when I have prayed and ‘coincidences’ have happened. I have also thought back to previous times when I have prayed, and ‘coincidences’ have happened. And friends of mine have had this experience too – over and over again. But of course, they are not coincidences at all; they are simply Almighty God listening to his children, and doing what a good Father does – answering them.
Some of these examples are quite mundane everyday matters, such as driving by mistake on the wrong side of the road. That proved rather dangerous, but wait until you read what happened. Other answers were quite dramatic, such as a deformed arm being healed.
Wendy and I are, with all due respect to Wendy, two very ordinary people. We went to State schools, one of us passed the eleven plus exam (just, at the second attempt) and the other didn’t. We both worked at nine to five jobs, except that one of us was also on shift work involving nights quite often. One of us earned quite a lot of money at times, but we have both known the feeling of uncertainty that comes with greatly reduced finances. We had both been happily married before going through the heartbreak and trauma of divorce. We met in later life, and cannot believe the contentment and fulfillment we have known since marrying around twelve years ago (at the time of writing). The main reason for our joy and fulfillment is that our lives were radically changed when we gave ourselves to the living God, who changes lives, heals sicknesses, meets needs and – answers prayers. As husband and wife, we see ourselves as a team, and function within the kingdom of God as such.
Romance? Oh yes, we are more than normal in that department, having honeymooned on safari in Africa, and enjoying most of our evening meals at home by candlelight. But we have scores and scores of people passing through our home, often for meals as well as for times of worship and prayer, and we travel to churches and meetings, not always in the UK, where, in addition to enjoying getting to know lots of lovely people, we also pray for those with needs. Sometimes we do not receive an answer at the time, and sometimes we do.
So here are a selection of ‘coincidences’ – answers to prayer and other acts of God where there has been healing, provision, direction and suchlike, the mundane and the amazing, the underwhelming and the overwhelming, the everyday and the occasional ‘special’. Be encouraged to step out and pray for people and situations if, like us, you are an ordinary person. We read in scripture that God does not call many wealthy, sophisticated, or worldly-wise people. He specialises in people like you and me, and he specialises in miracles. So I have written a few short chapters in section two of things that we have found helpful – well, essential really – in getting heard in heaven and seeing answers on earth.
May the Lord bless you richly in your walk with him, and may you too experience the miracles God grants in response to the prayers of his children.
(All the above stories are absolutely true, but the names of some characters have been changed to protect anonymity).
THE CURIOUS CASE OF THE CONSTIPATED CAT is available at amazon.co.uk (UK), amazon.com (North America) and all good book shops.
Other books by Barrie Lawrence –