Article of Faith: Coincidences Don’t Exist, By Femi Aribisala
God is not a coincidental God.
My DVD player has a slow-motion application. When you press it, you see the film you are watching in slow-motion. That way, you are likely to notice things you would otherwise have overlooked. When I first met the Lord, he set my life to slow-motion for the first two to three months so I could see things I had not noticed before. Suddenly, I discovered that everything about my life followed an ordered pattern. There was discernibly a guiding hand to all the things happening around me.
I would ask the Lord a question and wait for him to answer; and he answered every time. But what was fascinating was the way he answered. In some cases, he answered directly in my mind. But more often than not, he used the things around me to answer. I would turn on the television and he would use someone on the screen to speak to me. Someone would come to visit me and would answer my question without my asking. I would open my bible and the answer would speak to me from one of the pages.
On one occasion, I asked the Lord a question while driving. When I looked up, the answer was there; boldly written on a billboard. I then wondered whether the billboard was a vision or whether it was really there. So I went back again on the same route. When I got there, the billboard was right there, with the same message on it. Apparently, it had been there for a while. But why was it that the exact time I asked the Lord the question was the exact time I drove past the billboard? Did I ask the question or did the Lord cause me to ask it at that particular time? Your guess is as good as mine.
After some time, the Lord switched off the slow-motion and everything went back to normal speed. But now I know it is up to me to be observant. Accordingly, I now spend every day of my life on the look-out for God. I make it my business to know what God is doing in the situations and circumstances of my life. It is my business to know the purpose he has purposed for me. Jesus says: “I must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work.” (John 9:4).
Finger of God
Once, the Police arrested my former Business Manager, Ernest Oboh, on trumped-up charges. I had to go to the station to see what I could do. Before I left, I said a short prayer asking God for help. I asked him for the favour of God and the favour of man.
When I got to the Police Station, I spoke to the arresting officer. The man listened to me intently for a few minutes and then directed that my Manager be released immediately. Then he gave me his reasons. He said to me: “I am releasing him for three reasons. I am releasing him because I have a lot of respect for people who have grey hair, and you have a lot of it. I am releasing him because I understand you have a doctorate, and I just have lots of respect for people who have doctorates. I am releasing him because you are a pastor, and I just have a lot of respect for pastors.”
I told the officer: “I am sorry to disagree with you, Sir. You are not releasing him because of any of those reasons. You are releasing him because before I came here, I went down on my knees and prayed and asked God to give me favour.”
You see, right from the beginning of that episode, God brought the case to a man whose mind he had already prepared to be sympathetic to me. All the issues about grey hairs and doctorates were simply the devices of God. Somebody else could have hated me precisely because my hair was grey, and he could have hated me for having a doctorate.
Many years ago, some Liberian refugee members of our fellowship were arrested for “loitering,” and we had to go to the police station to secure their release. So we knelt down and asked God to take control. When we got to the Station, we were directed to the office of the Divisional Commander. Immediately I walked into his office, I saw the kingdom of God. All over the walls were posters with slogans affirming the supremacy of Christ.
When I sat down, I said to the DCO: “I see, Sir, that you are a Christian.” In answer to that question, he and I started sharing testimonies about the goodness of the Lord. This went on for some thirty minutes, after which he suddenly said: “By the way, why have you come to see me?”
I told him some members of our fellowship were arrested for “loitering,” and I wanted to see if I could secure their release. The policeman was angry. “For loitering!” he exclaimed. He not only directed they be released immediately, but that those who arrested them should be locked up.
Joy Ogwu’s son was going back to the United States from Nigeria. He had an American passport and a Nigerian passport simultaneously. He came in with his Nigerian passport, which meant he did not have a Nigerian visa. But if he tried to leave with his Nigerian passport, they would require him to show a visa for his destination. That meant he would have to show his American passport. But dual nationality had then been suspended in Nigeria. If he only showed his American passport, they would ask him how he got into the country without a Nigerian visa.
It was a “Catch 22” situation. Joy took the matter to God and asked for his help. Then she went to the airport with her son. But on getting there, she had a panic attack. Perhaps there was someone she knew who could help her? Perhaps if she spoke politely to the immigration official he would overlook the matter? Perhaps; perhaps; perhaps. Finally, the Holy Spirit spoke: “Did you not ask me for help? So why are you still anxious?”
Remorseful, she stood there in the middle of the airport terminal apologising to God. She had scarcely finished praying her apologies when someone called her name. “Professor Ogwu is that you?” She looked up to see this distinguished military officer standing in front of her with a big grin on his face. “What are you doing here?” he asked. “My son is travelling to the United States.” “Where is he?” the man asked taking charge. He took charge so completely he ushered him past immigration and literally on to the plane. Problem solved.
When Joy told her husband what happened, he was unimpressed. “It was just a coincidence,” he insisted. Coincidence my foot! Our God is not a coincidental God.
Femi Aribisala is the fellowship coordinator of Healing Wings.