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coincidences

There’s a journey I’ve been on for a few years now that I didn’t even recognize was happening as it occurred. As I look back on it, though, I can see so clearly each purposeful, perfect step.


I heard a quote the other day that says, “coincidences are just God’s way of working anonymously.” And as I think about the events that have transpired in my last 3 years, I can’t help but smile at that. Because to me, my secret benefactor isn’t very secret at all. I see you, Jesus, I see you. You’re a miracle worker. And to You be all of the glory.


This story starts in the sanctuary of my church. Our lead Pastor stood up on stage one summer morning in 2015 and informed the audience that we would be having a guest speaker. He then introduced Joe Savage.


It was Father’s Day weekend, and that morning Joe Savage spoke on his personal struggle with infertility – specifically how Father’s Day was a painful reminder of the dream of his that had never come true. He recounted how his wife had miscarried twins and how through all of their years of struggling to create a family, his faith in God had been shaken.


He then fast forwarded his story to speak on how, years later, he had started an organization called The Emmanuel House in Russia and how, through it, him and his team were able to rescue dozens of young girls from situations in which they were being trafficked. Joe then revealed that he had gone on to personally adopt several of the survivors he met through his mission, and when he had finally finished speaking, he ended by saying, “let me introduce you to my girls.”


As the very girls I had spent the previous 45 minutes listening about walked out onto the stage, I felt overwhelmed with emotion. This was human trafficking. It was real. It was right in front of my eyes. It was maddening.


I left my church feeling fired up that day. Shocked that I had lived 15 years of life not even knowing this horrible injustice existed. Upset that I lived in a world where it did. Moved by the testimony I had heard and wishing I could do something to change it all. But I was 15. Young and small and not having the slightest clue where to start.


Less than a month after that day at my church, I visited another church in my town merely to see a friend of mine play in his band. I watched the set play out and once they were done, as fate would have it, Mr. Joe Savage walked out onto the stage. He had been serving as the Interim Pastor there, and when he was finished speaking I had the opportunity to talk to him one on one.


I don’t remember all of the details of our conversation but I do distinctly remember still having that feeling. Admiring all he had done. Compassion for the girls that are bartered like property. A burning want to fix it. Just being wholly drawn in. And yet still, the conversation ended there.


It wasn’t until about 2 years later that human trafficking was at the forefront of my mind again. And it actually happened by complete accident. I was aimlessly scrolling on my phone and found myself about 6 people deep on an Instagram stalk when I happened to run across Pedal the Pacific: 3 regular girls, just like myself, who without any previous qualifications whatsoever, decided to bicycle 1,700 miles down the west coast to raise awareness for human trafficking — that issue that I held so much passion for but had never known what to do with. I was immediately hooked.


I followed these three “hilariously un-athletic girls” the whole way down the coast, hanging onto every unique experience and small victory they achieved. I thought they were awesome. Quirky. Brave. I was a fangirl. I never thought I could be anything like them.


But again, as fate would have it, they opened up the possibility of a 2018 Pedal the Pacific team. And although I was nearly paralyzed by fear and complete disbelief in myself, I threw my hat in the ring. And I guess as fate would have it they liked my hat because they chose me to be a part of that team — a group of girls who is setting out to raise $250,000 for survivors of human trafficking this summer.


Just the other day I was downtown with not much to do and lots of time to do it, so I decided to call my friend Caroline. She said we could hangout, but that she had several errands to run. She was on the way to her grandmother’s house as we spoke, so we met up and I tagged along for the ride.


Once we got to her house, Caroline’s Gran asked me about my summer plans. I was able to share with her the special adventure I am about to embark on and as I was still in the process of getting the words out of my mouth, Gran confidently told me she wanted to support. She had had some “church [charity] money” lying around that she hadn’t found a good home for and she said she immediately felt led to help me.


I expressed my thanks and told her how it was the little random encounters like hers where people showed genuine generosity and compassion that made this experience the most fun for me. She then told me about a quote from her favorite book that says, “coincidences are just God’s way of working anonymously.”


And I can only smile.


It’s no coincidence that Joe Savage and his wife could not become biological parents. For if they had, they would never have been able to experience the fullness of their family after adopting their beautiful survivors of sex trafficking. God’s “no” was really just a “I have one better.”


It was no coincidence that Joe came to my church to tell that story all those years ago, and it was no coincidence that I was in the audience.


It was no coincidence that I stumbled upon complete stranger after complete stranger’s Instagrams until I ran head first into Pedal the Pacific.


And it was no coincidence that I showed up to Gran’s house with Caroline instead of Caroline alone that day.


All of these tiny events occur precisely the way He planned them and they go right over my head. I am so small and foolish but He is so good to me. Hindsight is 20/20 and I love reflecting on my faithful Jesus. I have told this story or versions of it a million times now it feels like, but I will keep reciting it until I’m blue in the face. Because my God is one who is so perfect, so purposeful, so present. He is a God of no coincidences but of all graces and all goodness – even when we can’t see or feel it, He’s so there. And it’s only so obvious now.


I look back and I see clearly that Joe Savage planted a seed in me that day. And that seed has slowly and quietly been sprouting roots for a long time, through the little “coincidences” that have been nudging me towards where I belonged all along. But it’s now, on the verge of this epic adventure, that I can finally feel the flower budding. Inside I know I’m on the verge of a beautiful springtime, and I cannot wait for the vibrant colors that will come out of this little bud as it flourishes.

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