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The analytical psychologist Carl Jung first introduced the idea of ‘Synchronicity’ in psychoanalysis as: events that are ‘meaningful coincidences’ that occur without causal relationship but seem to be meaningfully related.
Sometimes in life, things seem to synchronise without due cause; without us fully understanding how or why they might occur. These moments can blindside us, distract us, or even disturb us – they are what I call ‘God Surprises’.
I remember as a young person, attending a Churches of Christ youth camp over the spring holidays at Halls Gap in the Grampians in Western Victoria. Halls Gap has a beautiful damned waterway known as Lake Bellfield. Apart from being an important water supply, it is deep and profoundly cold – so cold that you’d prefer not to swim in any season.
This particular day we were canoeing on the Lake and another canoe came alongside and wet myself and my team mate resulting in an eventual capsizing of our vessel. Fortunately, we were close enough to swim the canoe into shore, but the impending ruckus was intense. Leaders scrambled to our aid, as we gasped for breath impacted by the very cold conditions.
I was mortified and distressed. Just prior to camp, my parents had just bought me new glasses and as we over-turned I was too shocked to think about my glasses or their whereabouts. Back on shore, the leaders righted our canoe and to my amazement, my glasses fell out from under the seat of the canoe. Quick as a flash, one of the leaders pronounced – God is watching over you today.
As I look back on this formative event I am reminded of ‘Synchronicity’. Was this a coincidence or was God somewhat watching out for me? I’m sure we all have seasons where we wonder where God is; why he doesn’t seem to answer our prayers; when our spiritual life seems desolate; why this doesn’t make sense and so on.
There is an interesting perspective, an example, from the world of physics. Australia now has its own ‘Synchrotron’ built beside Monash University in Victoria and operated by ANSTO (The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation).
This high-tech facility uses electricity to produce beams of light more than a million times brighter than the sun. High-energy electrons whirl around in circular orbit inside the Synchrotron tunnels by the ‘synchronised’ application of strong magnetic fields. The electron beam travels just under the speed of light – about 299,792 km a second; profoundly hard to imagine!
The Australian Synchrotron is about the size of a football field. Its technology enables synchronistic advances in medicine, food, biotechnology, energy, mining, agriculture, advanced materials and other research applications. The intense light beam is channelled into a suite of scientific instruments where the light is diffracted, scattered and used for spectroscopy and imaging. Ultimately the Synchrotron will have 17 operational beamlines all capable of producing ‘Synchronistic’ active scientific breakthroughs and advances.
These days I often pray – ‘Dear God, please don’t simply be present, please be active. Please synchronise my activity with your plan and agenda’. I do so because I and others have countless stories of a God who is close (not distant), a God who cares (not dismissive), a God of great love (not demeaning) and a God of huge expanse and incredible detail (not disinterested).
Thank goodness that Isaiah many years ago reflected the character of God.
He wrote, when speaking for God:
‘My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,’ says the Lord. ‘And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.’ ‘For just as the heavens are higher than earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.’ (Isaiah 55:8-9)
This is the God of surprises. This is the God who works through His creation to synchronise His love and will. This is the God who is active within His Kingdom economy to oversee the earth and all whom are within. This is the God I choose to serve and follow as His ways are higher than mine.
I do trust this is your experience. He is definitely worth pursuing.
Dr Andrew Ball
Executive Ministry Director