Posted by: mikenicholsblog | September 28, 2014

a small world after all

It was an unusual journey that started for me on Friday, September 19th.  I was already tired on the plane to Chicago before catching a connecting flight that would ultimately arrive in Seattle late that same night.  My phone went dead on the tarmac in Chicago, I was hungry, and there was a terminal change to navigate (bad attitude by then).  For some reason I took a window seat for the four-hour flight to Seattle.  A nice lady and her husband sat on my row in, shall we say, tight quarters.  Everything was great until the lady fell asleep about two hours into the flight with her tray down. I am tall, squirmy, have space issues and eventually had to use the restroom. But she was sleeping so peacefully!  Eventually, we landed and I continued on a rather attention-getting trip.

People often use the phrase, “it’s a small world.”  I understand the idea, but Cleveland to Seattle doesn’t give me visions of a small world. And besides that, I searched the population of the United States using Google and as of today, there are over 318 million residents.  And people say it’s a small world? To me it’s very big, and that is what made my trip all the more unusual.  In Christianity, we often talk about God moments or divine encounters. I don’t want to characterize exactly what God was doing in my life last week except to say that He got my attention.  When we sense God getting our attention, there often needs to be a specific response.  Let me share my encounters!

Saturday afternoon, I sat down for my first convention class and there was one other man already at the table. We engaged in the typical small talk stuff about where we were from.  He eventually told me that he was from the general area that I am from in Ohio, but has resided in the Seattle area for over twenty years. Then he shared that he went to the College of Wooster in Ohio.  I commented on a man who I once hired (still a great friend) that went to the same college (over 40 years ago).  When I shared the name with my new friend, he informed me that he had been in the wedding of that very same man! But it’s not a small world!

The conference was great and my wife eventually joined me. Then on Tuesday, we headed home. It was another long flight from Seattle back to Chicago, and this time I was in the middle seat beside a man reading a financial book.  Being in the same profession, I chatted off and on with him throughout the flight. He had been visiting his dad out west and had connected through Seattle on his way back to Rhode Island. As the flight was winding down, I shared with my second new friend that I had worked for a man who previously worked in the very same financial firm that he currently does. To make a long story short, my friend in Ohio had hired this second new friend in the financial services business over twenty years ago and they have remained friends.  But it’s not a small world!

As you may expect, those two unusual encounters have repeatedly been on my mind this week. What was God telling me? What was His purpose? Quite frankly, I shy away from wanting to over-spiritualize events, but I can’t get over the 2 in 318 million-chance meetings. After reading Scripture this weekend and letting it all sit for a bit, I feel that I must act upon something so unusual.  During one of the encounters, I had a great opportunity to speak about faith and Jesus, but missed it. If God places you and me in aha moments, it’s for a reason. So I have decided that I have to reach out to each of these men with a token of friendship and faith and trust God for the results.

I miss too many moments of great opportunity. You may feel the same way. But I can guarantee you that my spiritual sensitivities are now on high alert. And my simple challenge to you at the beginning of a new week is to not miss the obvious chances to bring light and grace into your world.  Look around for opportunities because, to our Sovereign God, it’s a small world after all.


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