Just after Thanksgiving, I ordered something online for my wife for Christmas. I had an Amazon gift card and my credit card, placed the order and then went on with my hectic pace. Several days later, I opened my wallet, reached for my Capitol One credit card and it wasn’t there.
I mentally retraced my steps and realized ordering the merchandise was the last time I used it. I returned to the sofa, took the cushions off, looked under the sofa, looked around the sofa, and the card was nowhere to be found. I thought, “How could this card just disappear?”
I asked Amy, but she knew nothing about the card. For several days I looked, strained my brain and prayed, “Lord, help me remember where I put that card.” It can’t just vanish, can it?
Days later, this thought popped into my mind: Maybe I should look in the trash can. I immediately reasoned, “What dummy would throw his credit card in the trash can?” and went on.
The thought returned several hours later: Look in the trash can. So, I spread newspaper, pulled out the trash can and started emptying leftover food scraps, wrappers and assorted trashy items. Thank goodness, diapers from the grandkids’ Thanksgiving visit were already placed in the can outside.
About halfway down I spotted the Amazon gift card that I remembered throwing away. I reach through the trash, pulled out the Amazon card, turned it over and there was my Capitol One card stuck to the back of the Amazon card. What a relief! When I peeled away the tape revealing the gift code, I inadvertently placed it on top of the credit card and tossed both.
We should change the slogan from “What’s in your wallet?” to “What’s in your trash can?”
Was that thought a coincidence, or God’s “unconscious guidance?” Bob Mumford wrote, “Most of God’s guidance occurs when we’re not even conscious of it … Sometimes we are required to take another look at where we’ve been in order to realize that God has been guiding us.”
Often, when seeking God’s guidance, we look for dramatic presentations, such as burning bushes. In biblical times, God often spoke in sensational ways, using nature, miraculous signs, prophets, fire, trumpets, fleece and angels to reveal His plan or direction.
Sometimes God speaks through His Word, prayer, biblical teaching and preaching, and often through other believers. When I was a college student involved in Baptist campus ministry, I travelled to a state convention attended by hundreds of students from Baptist Collegiate Ministries across Georgia. One evening after worship, while sitting in a small group discussion, some students from Augusta State shared how their BCM was struggling and needing some committed students to plug in and get involved.
I remember my fellow Georgia Southern colleague Ellen, whose hometown was Augusta, sitting in that group and uttering an audible, “Oh!” the instant that statement was made. Ellen in that moment sensed God telling her to finish her freshman year, transfer to Augusta State and get involved in their ministry. She did. Through that student, she felt God leading her back home.
Other times, God arranges circumstances to give direction or bring people together. For example, In Ruth 2, as Ruth went and gleaned in the field after the reapers, she “happened to come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz …” (2:3). And Boaz “happened” to notice her and inquire about her. Was this a random event?
This happened outside of any human plan. Ruth went to glean, not to find a husband. Yet, God set up this encounter so they would meet, marry and become part of the genealogy of Jesus (see Matthew 1:5). He providentially arranged circumstances that brought Ruth and Boaz together.
On other occasions, such as my card hunt, He places His thoughts upon our minds and hearts.
God promises His guidance as we venture into this New Year. Will we seek Him? Will we tune into Him enough to hear Him speak? Will we recognize His direction? Then, will we follow obediently?
Maybe we should pray: “Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth . . .” Psalm 25:4-5a.
[David L. Chancey is pastor, McDonough Road Baptist Church, Fayetteville, Georgia. The church family gathers at 352 McDonough Road and invites you to join them for Bible study at 9:45 and worship at 10:55 a.m. Visit them online at www.mcdonoughroad.org. and like them on Facebook. Check out the pastor’s new book, “The Day I Nearly Met Dolly,” on Amazon.]