Chance Meetings

Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, "Go south to the road--the desert road--that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza." So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians. This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the book of Isaiah the prophet. The Spirit told Philip, "Go to that chariot and stay near it." Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. "Do you understand what you are reading?" Philip asked. "How can I," he said, "unless someone explains it to me?" So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him
(Acts 8:26-31).

Of course it is obvious that Philip's meeting up with the man from Ethiopia was not by chance. However, it was a meeting arranged by God and not presupposed by Philip. Philip was, in the course of his day, moved into a direction, place and setting that would bring him into contact with one who needed to hear about Jesus. Neither men knew what would happen that day, but both men would come away from the experience with a new appreciation for the mysterious movements of God.
Take Philip for example. God had been using him already and preparing him for just such a meeting. Philip was God's chosen instrument to use to meet the needs of the Ethiopian. He had fashioned him for this work specifically as well as generally. And as God's hand was active early in the life of His servant Philip, He knew a day would come when He would use Philip in such a way.
The Ethiopian was prepared for this meeting as well. God had already been active in His life to bring him to a place where He would learn of the Saving Grace of God in Christ. This is of course something to which we all can now, or one day will, identify with. We can look back with fondness on the circumstances that brought us to Christ; while looking forward to God's movement in the circumstances of our future. And as circumstances would have it, the Ethiopian just happened to have been reading out of Isaiah and required someone to explain it to Him. So opened the door of opportunity for Philip to show him Jesus, the Messiah prophesied of in the Scriptures.
The timing of God is a wonderful thing. He places us in the midst of circumstances that are often unexpected and most certainly unplanned. And He does so at a time and place wherein all of the circumstances come neatly together and draw our efforts and focus toward the accomplishment of His purpose in us and in the moment. But we will not see God's movement if we are more focused on our own agenda, and we will miss the moment if we are not ready and willing to be used.
Think of a time wherein you were delayed for one reason or another. Perhaps you were to be on a flight that was canceled and so you had to take a different flight, and in the process you met someone you would not have met otherwise. It would have been real easy to be frustrated as your circumstances were not what you had planned, but you felt the tug of the Spirit in you to keep calm and remember that you want people to see Jesus in you always. And so you sit and wait for another two hours for another flight. In the meantime, a stranger sits next to you, you strike up a conversation and suddenly you find yourself talking about your life in Christ. Later you look back and soon realize that the chance meeting was not that at all, but instead, it was a well orchestrated event put into motion by the Hand of your Lord.
It could be any number of things that could happen--things that will often take us out of our pre-planned course or even out of our element. And it is so easy to let whatever it is shake us up, frustrate us or make us angry. But this should not be our undoing but it should be our cue to be alert and ready. For it is entirely possible that God has fashioned us for just such a time wherein He plans to use us, and that He was prepared us to meet the need of someone else. We should remind ourselves daily that the sudden turn of events may be the culmination of God's plan, then perhaps we shall see that there is much more to our paths crossing with another's than mere coincidence and chance meeting.


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