“Serendipity” is defined by the Concise Oxford English Dictionary as “the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.” I do like that word! However, I don’t believe events happen by chance since God’s Word tells us that God works all things out according to His will. (See Ephesians 1:11.) So, I would modify the definition to be “the occurrence and development of unexpected events in a happy or beneficial way.” That being said let me tell you about some serendipitous events from our family vacation last month.
But first, there were some happy events which we planned and which by God’s grace came about! We were able to spend time with both Sue Ann’s and my families—mothers, siblings, nieces, nephews, and great nieces and nephews—as well as with our own children. It’s always a joy to see loved ones again and spend time together!
We were able yet again to enjoy as a family Mackinaw City and Mackinac Island in Michigan. That is a favorite spot for us, dating back to Sue Ann’s and my honeymoon 35 years ago this month! We enjoyed beautiful scenery, good food, fun events (like miniature golf and biking the perimeter of the island), and wonderful conversation together! We laughed together, prayed together, and at the end of our vacation went to a wedding in Flint.
And second, I did experience a somewhat serendipitous event—if there is such a thing—while at my mother-in-law’s house. What I planned was to fish. What I have no control over is whether I catch anything. The lake behind my mother-in-law’s home has been my main fishing spot for the past 15 years or so. Sometimes fishing is good; sometimes not. On this trip I caught two good-sized largemouth bass. (If you’d like to see the photos, just let me know! J) Particularly gratifying was the fact that I caught the second bass on my very last cast of the trip! That’s a nice way to end!
Third, and finally, the truly serendipitous events: unexpected conversations with complete strangers! On several occasions Sue Ann and I talked with people we had never met before. Sometimes together, sometimes individually, and at places like a souvenir shop, a seafood restaurant, the hotel, and the ferry going to Mackinac Island. At least three of these conversations included spiritual matters! The longest of those conversations, at Scalawags Restaurant in Mackinaw City, concluded with the gentleman asking us to remember him in our prayers.
I found these to be very gratifying. In fact, after several such serendipitous encounters, I began to initiate conversations with strangers just to see what God might bring about! Not all progressed to issues of substance and one on occasion the owners of one shop seemed not to really want to talk at all.
After the longest of these serendipitous conversations, our daughter asked if we had been “witnessing.” Well, in my church upbringing, “witnessing” meant sharing the complete gospel message of Jesus—His death for our sins and resurrection and offer of salvation through faith—including asking if the person would like to receive Christ as Savior right now. With that kind of definition in mind, I quickly answered her, “No.”
Upon reflection, though, I wonder about my answer to her. Admittedly, I never did go through the gospel with any of these strangers. But I do believe God can use even small “snippets” to plant seeds and impact others. Sue Ann was able weave into her conversation with a man on the ferry the comment that his precious baby, whom he obviously treasured deeply, was a gift from God. His mute and blank-faced response seemed to indicate that either he had never thought of that or that he did not agree. However, God may be using her words even now to nudge this man Godward, part of his journey to a saving relationship with Jesus. Who knows? Truly, only God does.
As I look back on our vacation with its many high points, these serendipitous conversations are gems. I hope to have more as I walk along, even when I’m not on vacation! And I would love to hear about yours!