As a teenager, my friend Mike was at a very low point in his life – seriously considering harming himself in the most permanent way. In that moment, seemingly out of the blue, a friend reached out to him and asked if he wanted to hang out and do something. Mike said yes to his friend, and – looking back – he believes that phone call saved his life.
When I was a lost and confused college student, a new kid moved in across the hall from me in my dorm. As our friendship developed, I became increasingly intrigued by his peaceful demeanor and sense of purpose in life. I began to hunger and thirst for what he had, which I eventually discovered was a personal relationship with Jesus. Then, one night, he brought me to an event where I made a life-changing commitment to give my life to the Lord. Because of my friend, my life has never been the same.
After attending one of our retreats, a sophomore in high school who had been struggling with substance abuse wrote on his evaluation that the event “…changed my life forever. The REAP Team has done more than you guys could understand.”
While cynics and atheists might consider these experiences to be mere coincidences, I confidently call them divine appointments. And I believe that they happen all the time.
Right Place, Right Time
A divine appointment is an experience where God orchestrates an encounter so that people’s paths cross at just the right time and in just the right way to accomplish something of great significance – for one or both parties involved – like encouragement, conviction, and conversion.
Perhaps you can recall some divine appointments you’ve had: someone called or texted or Snapped at you at just the right time, a friend or relative or stranger gave you advice that you’ve never forgotten, a line from a homily or a retreat or a song was so unforgettable that it has become foundational to who you are. Or maybe someone has said something to you like, “Wow. Thanks. That’s exactly what I needed from you.” There are no limits to the possibilities, since our God is so creative in the ways He reaches out to us.
Since divine appointments are an extension of God’s outrageous love for us, they are neither earned nor deserved. But we can grow in our awareness of them so that when they happen to us, we recognize them. And likewise, we can prepare our hearts so that we are open to being instruments of God’s initiative in the lives of those we have the privilege to encounter wherever we go.
Keep Your Eyes Peeled
As a youth minister who gives retreats, I have observed countless divine appointments during ministry events – undoubtedly because we approach these events in prayerful anticipation and expectation. They can happen with friends or family members before or after a retreat, through something said in a talk or testimony, as we mingle, in small group discussion, and even during games! We just never know when a divine appointment might happen, so it’s important to be open to the movement of the Holy Spirit at all times.
We may never know that a divine appointment has happened; sometimes God prefers to work incognito – and that’s okay. Perhaps He hides the impact of these encounters to keep us humble and so that we don’t start to think that it’s “all about us.” Maybe all of the ways the Lord used us will be revealed when we are in Heaven. Or maybe Heaven will be so fulfilling that we won’t need to know.
All we need to know is that it’s important to show up, no matter where we are at, with open hearts. With hearts and eyes open wide, I know we’ll be able to see divine appointments happening every day.