September 01, 2017

Coincidence or God’s Divine Timing? By Sandi Somers

“Things tend to show up when you need them,” wrote Michael Hyatt, author and motivational speaker. Some people call these “things” co-incidences, others call them serendipities. Others think an amorphous “Universe” opens up to give us what we need. But in reality they are God’s providences or miracles, all done in Divine Timing.

The Search for Oswald Chambers

Many of us know the name Oswald Chambers, author of the devotional book, My Utmost for His Highest. But we probably don’t know the story of how David McCasland wrote a biography of this writer.

Oswald Chambers 1874-1917
When McCasland was researching Chambers’ life, information was scarce, so scarce that he felt he was searching for the proverbial needle in a haystack. But he did receive advice on following any clue he discovered: “One clue leads to another and that’s the thrill, especially when you have the Holy Spirit to guide you.” And God did guide him to many “haphazard” discoveries, as he called them.

For example, Chambers had served as chaplain in World War 1 in Egypt, and while McCasland was searching through London’s Imperial War Museum, he found a short war memoir of a man who had become a believer through Chambers. This discovery was, McCasland said, a needle he needed, in one of the biggest archival haystacks in Britain.

But where could he find anyone still living who knew Chambers? Someone who could flesh out historical details? Kathleen, Chambers’ only daughter, was four years old when her father died, and she had few memories of him. But she did casually mention a 92-year old woman living in Santa Barbara, California, who had known her father. By Divine intersections, McCasland and his wife had already booked a flight to visit their daughter in Santa Barbara.  

In a two-hour interview, this woman welcomed McCasland’s enquiries and, brimming with enthusiasm, recounted many vivid memories.

McCasland published his book, Oswald Chambers: Abandoned to God, in 1993.

* * *

God leading me to this information was in itself a Divine miracle with Divine timing. While mulling over ideas for this month’s topic, I remembered reading how God directed McCasland. However, I read the article a number of years ago and had no idea how to trace it.

A few weeks ago while sorting through my old magazines, I found it! The Christianity Today magazine from 1993 was still opened to the article.[ii] I was surprised, as I don’t usually keep magazines that date this far back. Its vividness had left such an impression on me that I hadn’t thrown it out or passed it along to another person.

God’s Providence in Daily Life

The above stories illustrate how God, through the Holy Spirit, providentially leads us. I have so many examples from my own life that I could write a book. However, for this blog I will mention two.

He opens up words of life when I’m in need. Often when working through a personal issue, the Sunday sermon or my daily Bible/devotional reading pinpoints the exact principle I need. Or scripture comes to mind. At other times, I visualize a book on my library shelves. As I browse through its Table of Contents, a chapter heading stands out. As I read that chapter, God gives me the answer to my question.  

He helps in writing. Last winter while writing the story of how my young nephews helped me decorate my Christmas tree, I knew the story was weak. During this time, I was sorting through binders of unfinished articles. The first article I came to was a forgotten draft of the same experience! This version had a ring of authenticity and tenderness I hadn’t captured in my current writing. Integrating the two concepts into a holistic story, I thanked God for His providence. (That story, “A Place of Refreshing,” is included in InScribe’s upcoming Christmas anthology.)

Coincidences? Serendipity? “The universe?” No! God is at work in our relationship with Him.

Writing this blog has taught me a lot about God, who is both omnipotent and personal. He knows all things, even knowing when a sparrow falls or how many hairs we have (Matthew 10:29-30). At the same time He is deeply personal. Knowing our most intimate selves, He gives us His Divine help and answers, often with amazing timing. “Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear,” the prophet Isaiah said (Isaiah 65:24 NIV).
How do we respond to God’ providence in our lives? The prophet Daniel gave me some clues.

This morning I read how God revealed King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream to Daniel. Daniel acknowledged this insight came from God, and poured out worship and gratitude:  “(God) reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him” (Daniel 2:22, NIV).

And now over to you.  How have you seen God’s strategic providences in your life? What impact have they had for your faith and writing?

[i] David McCasland. Oswald Chambers: Abandoned to God. Discovery House: Grand Rapids, MI. 1993
[ii] David C. McCasland, “Who Was the Man behind My Utmost for His Highest?” in Christianity Today, Vol. 37, No. 11, October 4, 1993, pages 35-39. 


  1. Sandi, I so enjoyed your writing today. First, I enjoyed the little journey of Oswald Chambers's biography as researched and written by David McCasland. Second, as you write examples of your own providential leadings, I am reminded of so many wondrous experiences of my own. I always ask Him, How did you do that?, and I imagine Him with his Divine finger on the side of his nose and a twinkle in his eye "It's for Me to know and you to enjoy." I just love how He does this for each of us as we listen.

    Wishing you a wonderful month ahead...

    PS I do hope you will write that book with the stories you have of all those proverbial leadings.

    1. Thank you, Brenda, for your inspiring comment! Don't we sit in awe and wonder at how He does this for us?

  2. I think we all SHOULD write a book about God's timing in our lives - even if its just a journal for our own remebrance. In those 'down times' we need a reminder about God's faithfulness and goodness. It's why God instructed the children of Israel to set up 'memorial stones' once they crossed over and also why they were to teach their children the stories. I am SO looking forward to this month's theme!

    1. Thanks for your inspiring comment, Tracy. I’m sure we could all write a book on God’s providence. This might be a good topic for the next InScribe anthology!

  3. Thanks for opening up the big and interesting topic of synchronicity. I love the story of how you got this bio information about Oswald Chalmers. His book, My Utmost for His Highest, is one of my go-back-to devotional reads, but I never knew much about the man, so this is much appreciated.

  4. Nicely presented, Sandi, and great food for thought. That book on Oswald Chambers looks fascinating. I would be nowhere without the Lord's timing!


Thank you for taking the time to join in the conversation. Our writers appreciate receiving your feedback on posts you have found helpful or meaningful in some way.