Read: “That night Paul had a vision: A man from Macedonia in northern Greece was standing there, pleading with him, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us!’ So we decided to leave for Macedonia at once, having concluded that God was calling us to preach the Good News there” (Acts 16:9-10, NLT)Think About It: “I need to go to the coffee shop, NOW.” Believe it or not, that was what I knew God was telling me at that precise moment. I’m sure many would be tempted to use “God told me” as their excuse to indulge in a caramel latté before going to work, but it was more than that. It was normal for me to go to what had become my little oasis on a certain day of the week in the afternoon for quiet study. On this particular day, I had a certain plan in place to accommodate my need for study and the schedule that seemed to have grown a life of its own. I woke up and felt this overwhelming sense to “go now.” It wasn’t time for me to go. That wasn’t the schedule I had planned. Nonetheless, I got dressed, called my administrative assistant to inform her of the change in my day, and proceeded to the coffee shop. The owner who was opening up that day was late, so I sat down on the patio and began to read and prepare for the weekend of ministry ahead. A young guy of 18 years came over and asked when the shop opened. I assured him it would be soon and he walked away. I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was to have spoken to him more, but I didn’t act on it. A little later the doors were unlocked, the open signed turned on, and I was in line for my favorite drink. Standing next to me in line was the now-familiar face I had just met minutes before. What started out as a meeting of chance and casual conversation resulted in a two and half hour dialogue about God. “What is this ‘God thing,’” he asked. As we talked, he expressed his desire to have a real relationship with Jesus. So, out on the patio of a local small-town coffee shop, two guys prayed, and one reached out for the love of Jesus that had been his divine appointment for that very day.
Going Deeper: Paul’s encounter through a dream is a reminder that God will speak to you if you are willing to listen. He will show you those in your life that are hungry and crying out for something genuine. They may not know what they are desperate for, and they may fight you in the process. Don’t give up. Don’t take the road that looks like it is filled with more promising results. Pursue the road that God will call you to, lead you on, and be with you through. What looks like random is nothing more than God’s way of showing you the obvious in a way you never expected.
Next Step: Whether it’s in a coffee shop, at the neighborhood bus stop, in the grocery store, or any other place you find yourself on any given day, know that God has a plan. There is someone that needs the life-transforming love of Jesus. They’re crying out. You may not know them any more than they know you, but God knows you both. Ask God to give you clear focus when you are out today. Ask Him to show you the occasions that seem random as opportunities that are real. Let God lead you to the people need to see something real in you.