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Surprised by God’s Activity

  • By Jonathan Straker
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“So, where have you seen God at work lately?” Sometimes when I hear this question, I have to really slow down and reflect. And then sometimes, not so much–God’s activity is so evident, I’d have to try hard to miss it.

This week, Kelly and I have had a few of these moments that we’d like to share.

From Kelly:

I think it was the Holy Spirit doing something.  While recently in Nashville for the annual Christian Scholar’s Conference, I attended a musical and comedy performance that was part of the conference.  When I arrived, however, my ticket was for a non-existent seat.  My “seat” was a spot on the floor reserved for a wheelchair.  When I went to exchange my ticket, I was given a new seat, in the third row, in the center.  It was a great seat, and I was feeling pretty lucky.  When the host of the show asked where audience members were from, I proudly shouted out, “Calgary, Alberta,” and immediately the people to my left began to stir.  Then one of them asked me if I was Kelly Carter.  It turned out that not having my original seat planted me two seats away from Marlene Ashby’s cousin, Dale Pauls, who was also there for the conference.  As we discovered, Dale and I had always wanted to meet one another, but the occasion had never arisen.  He changed seats with the person next to me, and Dale and I had occasion to talk during intermission and after.  I told him I thought it was the work of the Spirit, and he agreed!

From Jonathan:

On Wednesday morning, I was in a mentoring conversation. The topic was our relationship to scripture. My conversation partner and I talked all about scripture–how we relate to it, interpret it, have a history with it, try to live it out, etc. But in all of that conversation, we only mentioned two areas of scripture by name. I was asked: have you ever read the Proverbs and applied them to your own personal life? And then: is there any area of scripture that you are hungry for, or particularly interested in spending some time in? To which I answered, “Isaiah” (for the last several years, I’ve had a growing interest in Isaiah–particularly as it is used throughout the New Testament). Later that afternoon, I was in another sort of pastoral conversation with a different individual. We talked about all kinds of things: our life stories, our faith, struggles, who we want to be in Christ, as dads, as husbands, etc. Then this conversation partner said, “recently I’ve been spending a lot of time reading Proverbs. I’m also working through a study on Isaiah!”

I guess it could just be coincidence that these two books of the Bible came up in two unrelated conversations with two completely different people on the same day. But I doubt it. So I think I’ll be spending some time in Proverbs and Isaiah…

On Thursday, we met “Jack”. For the last few months, the staff have been discussing what the next steps are in our relationship with our Wednesday lunch friends. A number of these friends struggle with alcohol addiction. We constantly see the pattern of (1) going to detox, (2) enrolling in a rehab program, graduating, and (3) immediately falling off the wagon. Kelly has repeatedly mentioned the need for an accountability housing program. A few weeks ago, we visited Mustard Seed to find out how we could better minister to our friends on the street and those struggling with addiction. Lo and behold, accountable housing came up–Oxford House in particular. So our curiosity was peaked. If only there was someone who could tell us more… And then, on Thursday, “Jack” walks in off the street, let’s us know he’s looking for a church in the area, and that he has just moved into an Oxford House location within walking distance of the church building! I think I had more questions for him than he had for me!

Finally, my folks are moving to Calgary (well, Chestermere, anyway). Michiko did a bunch of digging on rentals in the area. Our parameters were pretty narrow. Everything we looked at had pros and cons. Nothing really clicked. Then we looked at a condo in Chestermere right on the lake. We couldn’t contact the owner, so couldn’t see inside, but my mom immediately loved the view and location. Then the owner contacted us and told us it was sold. Bummer. There was one more property in Chestermere, but the ad was confusing. Not sure whether the owner was looking for tenants or a roommate or both.

We looked at one more property in Calgary. Kind of blah. So, walking to the car from that one, I prayed: “God, we really need some help and direction…” and the phone rang–interrupting my prayer. It was the owner of the mystery property in Chestermere. Same building that my folks loved. The owner has two condos in the complex. She lives in one and is looking for a roommate. The other is furnished and set up for senior living. Ground floor. Two bedrooms. Amazing view. About two minutes from our house.
Sometimes when I think about the question, “where have I seen God at work lately?” I have to really slow down and reflect. Sometimes, I have to strain to see through a fog of pain or confusion. We all have seasons of joy and pain, faith and doubt. But this week, I didn’t have to look very hard. It’s good to have weeks like this every once in awhile. And it’s good to give thanks to the One who cares for us–often in very personal ways.
So, where have you seen God at work lately?
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