Monday, February 25, 2008

God's 'Harmonic' Convergences

Over the weekend I was at Kokomo Indiana doing an event for Grace UM Church, and Pastor Steve and his wife told me the following remarkable story.

In the 90s, Steve was helping lead an E.O. tour in Israel with his Bishop, and they had gotten permission to have the Garden Tomb locale closed off to serve communion to the several hundred ministers and lay people on this tour. Little did Steve expect what his Bishop was going to ask him to do, once the gates had been closed and the service commenced.

Meanwhile, back in Indiana his wife was at home in bed. She was awoken at about 2 in the morning by a strong sense that God wanted her to get up and sing. She was not best pleased with this order from headquarters and questioned it, but finally was obedient to that strong sense she needed to do it. So, as she told me, she got up, sat in her chair, and started by singing Amazing Grace and then went through a repertoire of familiar hymns and choruses she knew by heart. She had no idea why she was doing this, but doing it in the middle of night sitting in her chair she was.

There is an eight hour time difference between Jerusalem and Indiana, and at the very hour Steve's wife was singing away it was 10 a.m. in Jerusalem. It was at that very hour Steve's bishop made an odd request--- "Steve, get the service started by leading them in singing". This request was odd because Steve has a difficult time remembering even names, but remembering lyrics to hymns? Forget about it-- he admits himself he can't do that at all. Naturally the bishop's demand must have frightened Steve, but he got up there prepared to get things started with the singing-- beginning with 'Amazing Grace'. To his own amazement he not only suddenly remembered the words to that hymn, but a whole series of other ones whose lyrics he had not memorized. And so all was well at the Garden tomb and communion went off as planned.

Only later, did Steve and his wife realize what was happening. Steve was singing the very hymns his wife was singing at the same time half way around the world--- no lie! When they compared notes, yep, you could say Steve was channeling his wife's 2 a.m. songfest! One little footnote. Methodism was born in song, and to this day its theology is best and most frequently conveyed in song as well. It is only natural for Methodists to 'connect' through the music of the Wesleys, Newton, Watts and the other classic hymn writers. But on that day, there was a very special and unconscious divine connection between a husband and wife. You know it is often said that once 'the two become one' the only question is--- Which One? On that day Steve needed his better half to take over in his hour of 'lead'-- and she did!

This whole marvelous story reminds me of the John Muir dictum, which I will paraphrase here from memory--- 'We look at life from the back side of the tapestry and mostly what we see is the loose threads, the knots, the dangling cords. But occasionally light shines through the tapestry of life, and we get a glimpse of how the divine hand has woven the darks and lights altogether into a beautiful larger design'.

On that day, a 'harmonic convergence' happened in the life and ministry of the Beutlers, and as his wife said to me at lunch yesterday, it has served as a good reassurance and confirmation of God's hand in their lives when rough times have come along since that day.

"God works all things together for good for those who love him and are called according to (their) choice/purpose." --- Rom. 8.28


Rob Penn said...

I enjoy reading stories like that. It's amazing to me that some of God's people would say that it was a coincidence, or blatantly untrue.
Actually, people in the same neighborhood as your friends. My grandfather preaches at an ABA church in Kokomo IN.

I've had some similar experiences with people resonating with what's going on in my mind/heart/what-have-you. The biggest thing that influenced my call into ministry was a conversation I had with a friend here at school. To make a long story short, God basically told her exactly what was happening in my thought life and told her to suggest that I go into campus ministry.

David Porter said...


You should open up your blog to allow comments from others who are not in the "Blogger" network.

I am sure that a lot of comments have been stopped short because of it. They don't have to be anonymous, but not everyone has a "Blogger" account.

I enjoyed this post.

Julie said...

I just wanted to stop by and say hello. I'll have you know that several of the students here made their way to your blog long before they found out that we know each other. Kind of crazy, isn't it? They read/love your books!

FrankDG said...

Hi Ben,
Enjoyed that immensely. I love apologetics and the study of theology and yet it's stories like these that captivate my heart in the wonder of the great God we serve.

Rob Penn said...

Well, frankdg, really those things are what makes appologetics move, aren't they?

I mean, when you're talking with some one who definitely is more educated than you, and absolutely makes you look like a fool, what keeps you from turning away from God?

The realization that ya know he's there because you've met him. You talk to him often, he talks back, and he moves visibly in your life.


David, it takeith not a genius to make a blogger account, I have one and therein is the proof.

FrankDG said...

Absolutely Rob! The testimony of the Word of God is of a God who is living, active and working in the lives of His people. If we miss that we miss the best part.

Rob Penn said...

Werd, frankdg!

I've been following the blog of another certain high-profile theologian and evangelist, and I'm astonished at how he and his fans forget about the relationship half of the Gospel. All it is is "Humble yourself before the LORD and you won't go to Hell." That's only half of the Gospel!
What about the part where God will be in me and interact with me before I die?

While I do believe that it's important for people to know that they are sinners, and that they need God, I think it's sad that Christianity has stopped being a relationship and started turning into fire insurance.

Ben Witherington said...

And if we ask who gave the brain that power to compensation the answer is not--- modern science or technology as helpful as they may be:)


Pastor Chris Roberts said...

Thanks for coming to Kokomo Grace UMC. It was a great visit and a real pleasure to meet you. I have posted some thoughts on our time together at my blog. I hope you will take time form your very busy schedule to read them (and perhaps rely).
Pastor Chris Roberts

Meltem Çiftçi Kurgan said...

What a wonderful true story.I loved reading it.
I also remembered being there at the peaceful garden.
Thanks for sharing Ben.