We had the opportunity a week ago to meet up in Phoenix, Arizona with our son from Oregon City and to attend several spring-training baseball games and do some hiking in the area. Some dear friends from our church have a condominium in Scottsdale where we were privileged (spoiled!) to stay. Their granddaughter (Alanah) whom they raised, and who sort of “adopted” us as another set of grandparents, is attending Grand Canyon University and was on spring break so we got to spend some time with her as well and get some guided tours of the area and of the campus of GCU—quite an impressive place!
On the one day that we didn’t have a baseball game on our schedule, we (Alanah included) drove up to Sedona to hike. A flashing highway sign told us that due to an accident ahead, there would be a delay, so we didn’t quite arrive when we had hoped, but still had plenty time for the two hikes our son, Grant, had—through his research—lined up for us to take. When we reached the trailhead for the first hike, it was lunch time and there was a picnic table, so before we headed out, we sat and soaked up the amazing beauty of the big red-rock canyon and ate our lunch. As we hiked to our first destination, a high mesa, we were in continual awe of the scenes before us. At every turn in the trail we couldn’t help but continue to utter “Wow!” We took many, many pictures but they can’t begin to do justice to being there to see the amazing aftermath of the Flood of Noah (Not the explanation given on the signage, of course!). When we reached the mesa we had a 360 degree panoramic view that was so spectacular. We dreamed of being able to camp there (which you can’t) and seeing a beautiful Arizona sunset and sunrise from that perspective.
We saw that the trail continued over the other side and knew it ended up on the other hike we wanted to take, but also led to another trailhead. We met a couple gals from Iowa who had come up that other side and had them come over to take our picture. In our conversation with them they told us that there was a cut-off trail on the side they had come up that would lead us back to our original trailhead so we could make a loop. How “timely” that we met them at just that time to discover we could accomplish both hikes and do it as a loop. We were about to continue on when we met another young gal who had come up our side and was interested also in making the loop but, not being sure of where to go and being alone was afraid to try it. We invited to have her hike with us, which she did and we had a delightful time getting to know her. She is an elementary school teacher in Virginia and was on her spring break. If you are familiar at all with Sedona, you know that there is a lot of mysticism and new-age spiritualism regarding the area which is thought by some to have magical powers. In fact that morning, there was a designated area where people could visit the “vortex” and be “energized!” This gal had gone there but said she didn’t feel anything. We said, “Good.” It was quite obvious that the young lady is searching for truth and was very open to talk. Each of us got time to interact with her as we hiked. When we arrived back at the trailhead where we were parked, we exchanged email addresses so we could stay in touch. I have to believe that our encounter was a “divine appointment,” and that God is working in her heart. We plan to follow up with her, so pray for us and for her heart as we do. I will keep you posted.
As I thought about how God had worked out the timing for us to meet this school teacher from Virginia—including the “delay” caused by the accident, I was reminded of how God controls situations to bring people together to reach souls for the Kingdom, and to carry out His plans. We saw it on numerous occasions during Jesus’ ministry. For example, Jesus, once when taking His disciples from Judea to Galilee, purposefully went through Samaria, which was not the normal route. Since Jews hated the half-breed Samaritans, they would cross the Jordan and go up the east side so as to bypass Samaria. John chapter 4 records the story and tells of a woman who was an outcast even among the Samaritans because of the immoral lifestyle she had lived. While others came in the cool of the morning to the well at Sychar to draw water, she had come during the heat of the day to avoid seeing anyone else. But it was at that precise time that Jesus, having sent his disciples to town to buy food, met her at the well. It was a divine appointment. After asking the woman for a drink (Jn. 4:7), Jesus offered her “living water” (v. 10), and said to her: “Everyone who drinks of this water (from this well) shall thirst again; but whosoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water spring up to eternal life” (vv. 13,14). The woman ended up believing on Jesus and rushed back to town to tell people about what happened to her. Many believed because of her testimony and others came out to hear Jesus in person and believed (vv. 39-42). All this because of a “divine appointment” between Jesus and an outcast Samaritan woman at a well near Sychar during the heat of the day.
An example from the life of the Apostle Paul is the story of Onesimus, a slave who had stolen from his master, Philemon, and had run away. Eventually he made his way to Rome, where he crossed paths with Paul (possibly in jail!) where Paul took the opportunity to share Christ with him and he got saved. Think of all the events God worked out to bring about that encounter! Paul sent Onesimus back to his master, accompanied by a letter of intercession on his behalf (the letter became part of the New Testament).
God also orchestrates the details of our lives, including what we see as delays and interruptions, to bring about “divine appointments” with those He is drawing to Himself. The amazing thing is that we are the instruments through whom He works—what a privilege, but what a responsibility! When we cross paths (or hiking trails) with others, it is not by chance, but because God put us both there at that time and place. I think of how often I have probably not been listening to God or am not available to Him and have missed the opportunity He presented. God, help me to be sensitive to these “divine encounters” and to be a faithful vessel through whom You can work. We should pray, as did the Apostle Paul, “God, open doors, open hearts, then open my mouth and give me the right words to speak” (cf Col. 4:3,4).
God may have a “divine appointment” for you today. Be watching and be ready (cf I Pet. 3:15).