A Divine Appointment—Tripping into God’s Best
What is a divine appointment? The way we talk about it now is we say, “It’s a God thing!” or “I didn’t do that! God did.”
A Divine Appointment is a fancy way of saying that you have walked into God’s prior action without any previous planning or action on your part at all.
So let me tell you about one of those.
I had never seen anything like it…
The way that the overseeing Bishop organized people to preach was very, very odd. There were about a dozen of us on mission in North Uganda. My wife and I were a part of that team—and all of us knew that each person would be given a church to preach in on that weekend.
But the fellow in charge would not tell us which church, what faith background, any of their history—he told us nothing. Instead, he simply said, “You will preach on Sunday. I will tell you which church you are going to that morning.”
Well, that meant that there wasn’t any solid way to prepare something for a focused purpose. So, I pulled a half dozen messages and put them into a briefcase. Then I got the assignment. I would preach in the north part of the city in a congregation with three services, in a Muslim area of town. It was only as we were driving that I was told that I would be translated into Swahili, Lugbara and Lingala.
Liz and I prayed. I sensed to preach a message on how to pray in faith, from James 5. So, I pulled the old message, came to a place of calm, and the driver took us there. I pulled out the Bible and the notes.
Then we found out the attitude toward white preachers in African churches. They called us “Muzungus—whirlwinds”. People like us would fly in and fly out, like Elijah in the whirlwind, in the Muzungu!
They were also usually boring preachers. So, they said “Hey Muzungu, keep it short, okay?” Remember, I was being translated. That means the preaching time was cut in half! And when the preacher was a white from North America, that meant boring, and they wanted short!
The service started. We sang a song or two. Then an elder of the church got up and reviewed the financials for the church, how the money was being spent. Also, the pastor was away—and no one would tell me where he was. Everyone looked depressed, worn out and sad. And no one would tell me why…
We sang some more worship songs. And when the Swahili singers started to sing, they picked up their chairs and began to do a circle dance! And then they laughed! This went on for about 20 minutes and they asked me up to preach. The translator whispered, “Hey Muzungu, keep it short!”
And then I started—and what came out of my mouth was completely different than what I had planned. I found myself explaining that in the congregation James wrote to, there were rich and poor, a few wealthy and lots of poor people. Most of that church were laborers, farm hands or slaves, if anything. It is clear from the fifth chapter of James that some of the very poor had suffered because someone with resources had either sued them or threw them into jail.
Then, to my great surprize, everyone sat up bolt upright in their chairs, and then they focused intently at the front. “Hey Muzungu, preach it!” “Preach it!”
I said, “It is a terrible for a church to be divided because two people in the church take each other on, and one throws another in jail. It is even worse when someone innocent suffers and the innocent one winds up in jail and has no defence.”
Suddenly the eyes of the congregation got very, very big! They said, “Preach it Muzungu! Preach it! Take all the time you need!”
So I talked about how awful church fights were, especially when someone of faith wouldn’t even try to repair damage done by someone else of faith. I told them that churches are defeated when people in the congregation don’t even try to work out their differences, and that it didn’t even matter if they were rich against poor, or poor against poor. If Jesus’ people can’t work things out, Jesus’ people have failed the gospel. Then the people who need the gospel find the actions of the church offensive, and they don’t consider the claims of Christ. The gospel, and the church, would be defeated!
I spoke about how people would leave instead of try and figure out what happened. I spoke about how the command of the Lord was to care, to reach out, to work out anything that might be an impediment to loving each other. Then I said, “Instead of throwing a pastor or an elder in jail, the better course would have been to sit down with someone, work it out privately and figure out how to live together in peace.”
After this, I preached on praying in faith… And they didn’t want me to stop! And then they hit the ground weeping and praying and seeking God. It was profound.
When church was done, I found out why they were paying attention. There had been a pastor in that church. He had taken some money from their benevolent fund, and given it to someone who had nothing, so she could buy food for her hungry child. But he was lousy with keeping track of spending. He kept no paper trail. Then, another man in that church, an elder who was concerned about where the money in the church was going, threw the pastor in jail for mismanagement of money, and told the church that he had embezzled funds.”
People left, because they believed the elder… Then the poor woman came and told the church that she had received the money and used it to buy some food…
It was the exact amount that was missing. The pastor had in fact, given her the money for food. Then the elder left the church in a storm.
The pastor was innocent, but people left just the same.
It had just happened, and I had no idea. A year later, I found out that the unexpected introduction for the sermon saved the church from failing completely. The man who acted too quickly didn’t want to repent. So, he left, and took his lousy attitude and his money with him. But the congregation returned, and learned that acting too quickly destroys God’s church…
Now you need to know, I had not a sweet clue that I was in the middle of a divine appointment. I had no idea—and God completely changed what I had planned to say, and turned that into something completely different…
And God healed that church.
A Divine Appointment is when you enter into something that God wants done, and you had nothing to do with it.
God sets it up.
You enter it.
God gets the glory.
Ask God to give you a divine appointment, and to use your hands, your heart, your soul, your mind to heal His people.
© David Chotka 2022.