Have you ever had a “divine appointment”?  I have.

A divine appointment is a meeting with another person that has been specifically and unmistakably ordered by God. Yet I sometimes wonder how many of these supernaturally scheduled meetings I’ve missed because I didn’t have my spiritual radar turned on.

The Scriptures say, “The steps of a righteous man are ordered by the Lord.” After decades of walking (off and on, but mostly on) with God, I can tell you that seeing God set up these “appointments” is a thrill that is beyond comparison.

One of my friends in the ministry, Bill Howard, experienced such a heavenly appointment that I wanted to share an excerpt of his writing with you.

It all began with a routine trip to promote the Weekend to Remember conference in San Antonio, Texas . . .

As I was waiting for my plane, I noticed a man in his mid-20’s dressed in a red warm-up suit. He stood out because he was severely disfigured, an obvious victim of fire. I recall feeling compassion accompanied with a slight feeling of repulsiveness because of his grotesque appearance.

Little did I know that a friend was praying that I would have the opportunity to share Christ with someone on the plane that day. So, like the conductor of a symphony, God began to orchestrate circumstances to accomplish His purposes.

As we boarded the plane it became apparent that it was going to be a packed flight. A little annoyed, I arrived at my seat only to find that another man with a similar name had taken my seat. As I stood in the aisle and waited for the attendant to assign me another seat, I noticed that the disfigured man in the red warm-up suit had the same lot as me. I felt uncomfortable for him, as I watched people stare at his abnormal appearance. After all the other passengers were seated there were only two seats left on the entire plane . . . together in row seven.

Here I was sitting next to the very man at whom everyone had stared.

As the plane pulled out of the gate and taxied down the runway, I noticed that my disfigured neighbor was silent—staring out the window, arms folded in such a way to cover his mutilated hands. I couldn’t help but notice how the features on his face had all been apparently reconstructed. Although he wore sunglasses, they couldn’t conceal his eyebrow, which was located on his left cheek. The skin on his nose only partially covered his nostrils. His ears were almost nonexistent.

But it was his hands that startled me most. The fingers on both were completely gone. The left one was just a stub from his knuckles down and the skin was so thin that it appeared transparent. It looked like the doctors simply stretched what little skin he had left to cover his exposed hand. The right one was in the same condition, but even worse. It was bent back against his arm and looked as if he were trying to touch his elbow.

Sitting next to this man, I began to experience a number of emotions—thankfulness (that I was in one piece), compassion, and curiosity. I wondered what had happened to re-shape this young man’s body. I wanted to talk with him, but what if he rejected me—I’d feel like a jerk for intruding in his life. But I felt that familiar nudge from the Lord to at least try.

So I began a conversation. He said his name was Johnny and he had just been to Tucson to visit his girlfriend (names and places have been changed). She must be quite a woman, I thought.

When I apologetically asked if he would mind sharing his tragedy, he quickly responded, “No, not at all. I’d much rather have you talk with me than stare at me.” As I picked my pride up off the floor, he energetically began to tell me his story.

He and his father were taking a rest stop at a gas station in Eagle Pass, between Mexico and Texas. While they were waiting outside, a car pulled out in front of a gas-tanker truck. Avoiding the collision, the truck, full of fuel, jackknifed, rolled, and burst into flames, covering approximately 70 people with burning fuel. Johnny and his father were immediately covered and ignited. When I asked about Johnny’s hands, I was in awe by his reply. While engulfed in the flames, Johnny saw an old man pinned on the ground by a steel rod across his chest. Johnny walked over to the man and lifted the rod off his chest, literally burning Johnny’s hands off. I now had a genuine love and respect for this courageous man.

He went on to tell me that he spent over three years in the hospital. Upon getting out, he spent another four years in seclusion, due to the scars from his burns. A girl that he met during that time unconditionally loved him back into society.

Since that time he went on to explain that he has had over 130 operations—most to just keep him alive. Just that upcoming summer, Johnny was to receive a pair of artificial hands.

As he finished telling me his story, I couldn’t help but wonder if Johnny had ever considered God during his trauma. When I asked, he said he had, but had never heard of having a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. He wanted to know the God who had spared his life. As I shared “The Four Spiritual Laws” with him he was very attentive. He was eager to know of God’s forgiveness and love. As the plane landed in San Antonio, Johnny prayed with me, placing his faith in Christ as Savior and Lord.”

Bill concludes his story: “And so for Johnny, there was a moment when he saw his physical body nearly destroyed. All the medical technology in the world could not and will not make him a whole person. But there was another moment when Johnny trusted Christ, and instantaneously God renewed his soul and gave him the promise that his body shall be made new at the coming of Christ.”

Maybe you’re like me—I’ve been nudged by the Holy Spirit, but I rationalize away my responsibility to say anything. I wonder if the reason we see so little of the supernatural occurring in our lives is because we are unwilling to take the risks that come with walking and living by faith. We fear the rejection of man more than displeasing God.

Bill’s story has nudged me to pray more for the salvation of my neighbor, to ask a waitress at Wendy’s if she knew the man who made Christmas famous, and to talk more with my grandchildren about how they can be a missionary in their schools. In short, I’ve been more acutely aware that God is setting up divine appointments with me and people I get the privilege of talking to—and I don’t want to miss a single one.

May you and I be aware of the living God’s presence in our every day lives.

Copyright © 2006 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved.