The older I get, the more I become aware of the sovereignty of God in our lives. I am from an Arminian background that emphasized man’s free will, in comparison to the Calvinist position that emphasized the sovereignty of God. But as I look back on my life, I realize that there were things that happened that were beyond my own making; rather, they were orchestrated by God Himself. Many of these can be seen in what one can call ‘Divine Connections.’
Dr. David Jeremiah, well known Bible teacher points out that “History is replete with examples of connections – how ‘A’ unexpectedly led to ‘B.’ Sometimes connections are anticipated, but often they are a surprise. Something we think is insignificant can turn out to have a major impact on our lives.”
Proverbs 16:9 declares, “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs His steps.”
Let us look at some examples of divine connections.
BILLY GRAHAM AND CLIFF BARROWS
Cliff Barrows was “arguably the most crucial teammate Billy ever recruited,” wrote the authors of “The Leadership Secrets of Billy Graham.” Well, How did they meet and how did Cliff Barrows become a part of the team?
Barrows and his newlywed wife Billie were on their honeymoon in North Carolina in 1945, when they were invited to attend a Youth for Christ rally where Billy Graham was preaching. At the last moment, Graham’s song leader was unable to lead the singing, and it was suggested that Cliff Barrows be a stand-in. Billy wasn’t too enthusiastic at the idea and declared, “This meeting is too important to take a chance on an amateur.” Bot finally there was no choice, and the amateur – as reluctant as the preacher was to have him – took over. After Barrows had conducted a song or two, Billy Graham whispered to the chairman, “He’s great stuff. What did you say is his name?” “Cliff Barrows,” responded the chairman. That was the beginning of their relationship. Their meeting was serendipitous. Cliff Barrows was for more than 70 years the musical voice and program manager for all of Billy Graham’s crusades. As Billy Graham said, “Cliff Barrows has led more people in singing than any other man in the world.” And it all came about, I believe, by the sovereign hand of God bringing them together on Cliff’s honeymoon when he wasn’t even looking for a job (NYT 11/25 2016).
Take another example, this one involving a long-time friend.
HARRY WESTCOTT AND BENSON IDAHOSA
Harry Westcott succeeded me as the leader of Vision Ministries in Australia when I moved to the United States in 1980. Recently, he asked me to write a forward to a book he had written entitled ‘In His Grip – An Aussie Who Had a Go.’
In the book, he tells the story of how I had him go with me to Singapore for a world Charismatic Leaders Convocation. His reason for accepting my invitation was he wanted Dr. Cho from Korea, who was also going to be there, to lay hands on him and pray for him. But this never happened. Harry was disappointed. Another minister with whom he was sharing a hotel room encouraged him saying, “God has got something better for you, Harry,”
The ‘something better’ was Benson Idahosa, a minister with a great church in Nigeria. Harry describes the time Benson Idahosa prayed for him this way, “pushed like a pile driver straight to the floor. I’m sure I was freshly filled with the Holy Spirit again at that moment, and God did something that bonded Benson and me together in a relationship that lasted till his coronation in heaven.”
God was obviously at work, bringing two men together in a divine connection that impacted their lives for years.
WATSON THORTON’S STORY
Here is another story I came across in “Christianity Today,” involving someone being sensitive to the inner voice of the Holy Spirit. Watson Thornton was already serving as a missionary in Japan when he decided to join the Japan Evangelistic Band, an evangelistic mission founded in England in 1903. He decided to travel to the town where the organization’s headquarters were located and to introduce himself to its leader. But just as he was about to get on the train, he felt a tug in his spirit that he took to be the leading of the Lord telling him to wait. He was puzzled but thought he should obey.
When the next train rolled into the station, Watson started to board but again felt he should wait. When the same thing happened with the third train, Watson began to feel foolish. Finally, the last train arrived, and once more, Watson felt a check. “Don’t get on the train,” it seemed to say. Shaking his head, he thought, I guess I was wrong about this. Watson thought he had wasted most of the day for no apparent reason. Yet as he turned to go, he heard a voice call out his name. It was the mission leader he had intended to see. He came to ask whether Watson would consider joining the Japan Evangelistic Band. If Watson had ignored the impulse and boarded the train, he would have missed the meeting.
What was this impulse? Watson believed it was the voice of the Lord. Despite this, he felt unsure of himself. His actions didn’t seem to make sense at the time. It felt more like a matter of intuition than anything else.
AN EXPERIENCE OF MY OWN
I had just been baptized in the Spirit, and with a group of people, we were seeking to set up a Teen Challenge style ministry in Sydney. It was decided that I should travel to Teen Challenge in New York to see first hand what their ministry was like. However, before plans were finalized, a number of people urged me to go to a particular prayer meeting to hear an Anglican minister from New Zealand, who was on his way to England. I went and had a divine connection in as much as he shared two things with me. First, he shared about a major Charismatic conference in England later in the year. Secondly, he shared his plans for a Charismatic conference two years later in New Zealand. As a result of that conversation, I ended up going on an around the world trip, which included the conference in England and the call to work in conjunction with the ministry from New Zealand, sharing speakers, as we ended up planning a national Charismatic conference in Sydney. I never did lead the Teen Challenge style ministry, as God was instead leading me into a national renewal ministry. All because of a divine connection at just the right time orchestrated by the sovereign hand of God.
As David Jeremiah puts it, “God often uses events – even a famine – to accomplish great spiritual purposes. Be sensitive to the circumstances in your life; be on the lookout for spiritual connections.”
Write and let me know the story of your divine connections!