The Oasis - September 22, 2021
Author: Pastor Dan Hollis
September 22, 2021
September 22, 2021
by Pastor Dan
Last week I met someone with a scripture reference tattooed on his arm. It certainly wasn’t one I recognized just by chapter and verse. It was I Chronicles 11: something. I Chronicles isn’t a book I know by heart, and I decided I would look up the passage when I got home to see what was so meaningful about it. However, I didn’t quite get a good look at what the verse was. I figured I would just look up I Chronicles 11 and keep reading until I found something that would make sense as a tattoo, but as it turns out, that wouldn’t have helped me at all!
In the end, my curiosity got the better of me, and I asked the guy—his name was Joel—about the scripture passage on his arm. He laughed and told me it actually wasn’t anything profound. He said it was from one of those long, boring segments of the Bible where they just list people’s family members and ancestry (like the “descendants” in Genesis, or the “father ofs” in Matthew).
I Chronicles 11:38 reads as follows: “Joel the brother of Nathan, Mibhar son of Hagri,” and I’d say normally that’s not the kind of poignant message one feels the need to inscribe on their body for the rest of their life. But this man’s name is Joel… and his younger brother’s name is Nathan.
Now that’s a neat enough story as it is, but that’s not why he had it tattooed on his arm. See, when his parents named their two sons Joel and Nathan, they didn’t actually know I Chronicles 11:38. Who would? They didn’t name their sons after these two nondescript characters in the Bible; it was just a coincidence!
It wasn’t until years later that the family visited a church somewhere for some function or other, and a member of that church, upon learning the names of the brothers, commented to the mother, “Oh, you must have named them after Joel and Nathan from I Chronicles!”
Now I don’t know what’s more of a coincidence: accidentally naming your sons after two random brothers in the Bible, or running into the one person in all the world who actually remembers such an unremarkable phrase in such an unremarkable section of the Bible. The double-coincidence was certainly remarkable enough to make for a tattoo, that’s for sure!
Some people say there’s no such thing as coincidence. I’m not sure that’s true, because in my experience sometimes the universe lines up just right for no reason and while it’s cool, there’s no greater meaning to it. But I do believe, however, that God works in coincidences. I think in those moments that happen around us and to us that are so astronomically against-the-odds, God takes the opportunity to reach out. Hidden in the coincidences—whether the fact that they happened was random or intentional—God takes the opportunity to get our attention. Whether there’s something we need to realize or to learn, whether we need a moment of beauty or awe or laughter, or whether what we need is simply comfort, or a reminder that the world is bigger than us… God is active in the coincidence. God takes advantage of the glitches in the Matrix, the déjà vus, the serendipity, and the dumb luck.
It doesn’t matter how mundane things may seem in life… in this world, even boring old genealogy lists can have hidden meaning just waiting to be discovered.
Keep your eyes open.