A Divine Appointment in a Grocery Store Parking Lot

I pulled into the parking lot at Stater Bros., a Southern California grocery store near our house. I needed to pick up just a few items and though I had intended to swing by much earlier in the day to avoid the after-work crowds, I had been delayed for reasons I can’t even remember.

As I got out of the car, I heard someone address me with the question, “Dave Lowe?”

Michael Acuna is a former Cal Poly, Pomona student and current assistant basketball coach at Bethesda University.

I looked to see a guy standing in front of my car wearing a mask, glasses and a hat. I didn’t recognize him immediately with all of his facial features covered. He had recognized me though before I parked because I wasn’t wearing a mask or hat until I got out of the car.

He realized I didn’t recognize him so he re-introduced himself.

“Michael Acuna….from Cal Poly, Pomona Destino.”

Michael is a guy I had connected with a number of years ago when Jen and I were in our Regional positions with the Cru campus ministry.

Michael was a student involved in Destino, our Latino focused campus ministry.

I hadn’t seen Michael in several years but we were friends on Facebook and Instagram and I would occasionally see posts from him online. As Michael updated me on his life, I learned that we live very close to each other.

I gave Michael an update on us, including our transition a few years from ministering to college students to focusing on Young Professionals. As I shared about some of the resources we provide, such as Leadership Development Groups and coaching, Michael’s eyes lit up.

“I could really use some coaching”, he responded.

Michael and I were able to exchange contact information and we’ve connected virtually a few times now to talk about how we can move forward in a coaching relationship.

My encounter with Michael is just another example of how God is always working behind the scenes to orchestrate events and work out His divine plans and purposes.

Michael and I taking a selfie in the Stater Bros. parking lot.

A few days ago I was reading in Mark 1, which starts off with these words: “The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ.”

What’s interesting though is that Mark doesn’t really talk about Jesus for another 8 verses. If the gospel is about Jesus and Mark is going to talk about the beginning of the gospel, why does he delay mentioning Jesus and instead spend 8 verses talking about an obscure verse in Isaiah, followed by a description of John the Baptist preaching and baptizing out in the wilderness?

It’s true that Jesus is the central figure of the gospel, but the story of the good news incorporates so much more.

This passage is a reminder that even before Jesus arrives on the scene, God the Father is working behind the scenes preparing people for the arrival of the king.

Henry Blackaby said it well in his popular book and workbook “Experiencing God” when he said, “God is always at work around us…”

It’s true. God is ALWAYS working, often in ways I’m not aware of. He’s orchestrating events and arranging circumstances to accomplish his purposes and ultimate plans.

This is why I don’t believe my chance encounter with Michael was accidental or coincidental. It was providential.

How about you? Who are the people and what are the circumstances God arranged to prepare you for the arrival of Jesus in your life?

If God can arrange circumstances to help you encounter Jesus, how might he be using your current situation and circumstances to  prepare you for something greater that you might not even be able to imagine at the moment?

In Philippians 1:6, Paul said that, “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Before Jesus ever arrived on the scene of your life, God was working to prepare you. And now that you know Jesus, God is still working in you to bring growth and development and perhaps opportunities that you never dreamed of!

You can read more of my thoughts on Mark 1 on my January 13th entry of my DailyDevo blog.