Now let me begin by saying I'm not one of those people who see God at work in absolutely everything. I do believe that he is interested in every aspect of our lives but I also believe that He expects us to do things for ourselves as well. Like looking before we cross the road or not jumping off a tall building. And also I think some things are just coincidences.
But now and again it's a coincidence too far.
You may know that I sometimes go into prison for the Sunday morning service. Sometimes I'm just part of the congregation, sometimes do the talky bit and sometimes, as yesterday, I lead, that that is, I introduce the speaker and the songs and stuff like that.
Yesterday the musician had chosen the songs and the first one was Amazing Grace. We're restricted in the songs we can sing as they have to be fairly well known or easy to pick up so we sing Amazing Grace quite a lot. While we were singing I was suddenly struck by one line: 'Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far.
It's never hit me before but I felt I had to say something about it to the men. I've told the story on here before I'm sure but this will be a slightly different perspective.
When I was nineteen my mum had a serious stroke and was in hospital at the other side of town. We didn't have a car so one evening my cousin's girlfriend, Anne, offered to drive us there in her mother's car, us being me, my grandmother and my gran's sister, Auntie Gay.
When we came out of the hospital to come home my gran sat in the front passenger seat as was her God-given right as elder sister (!) and I went to sit behind Anne. Then my gran said, 'No, let Auntie Gay sit there so the car will be balanced.' (She and my great-aunt were both quite large ladies so I think she imagined the car toppling over if they both sat on the same side.) I duly swapped seats.
One the way home we had a crash: a lorry drove into the side of us and Auntie Gay was killed.
For a very long time I blamed myself. No, not blamed but felt I was the one who should have died. 'It should have been me.'
Then, as I say, yesterday the words of the old hymn struck me: 'Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far. Was it God who initiated my change of seat? I think maybe it was.
Maybe he had plans for my life, plans for me to be an amazing servant for him. If that's so he may be a bit disappointed now; or maybe there's still time for me to be Billy Graham-like and travel the world evangelising millions. No, okay, I don't think that's likely either. Or maybe my purpose was to bear three wonderful children. Or just to make cakes every week for Zac's. Or as a friend has often been heard to say, 'My life is meant to be a warning to others!' Who knows? Well, God does, thankfully.
And do you know the strangest thing about this story? The thing that only struck me last night when I was in bed - which when I tell you what it is will make me sound like an idiot for not seeing it before?
Auntie Gay's real name was Grace. Spooky? Or heavenly?