Did you hear the one about the preacher, a cricket player and a dead battery? I would be surprised if you had. Many years ago I was on my way to a town southeast of Dallas for a preaching gig. Along the way I stopped at a McDonald’s to get something to eat. When I came out, I discovered my batter was dead and wouldn’t start the car. As it happened a cricket team was at that same McDonald’s and one of the men gave me a jump and got me going. It was just one of those small acts of kindness that go unnoticed every day.

Most would dismiss the incident as just one of those coincidences that happen from time to time. But was it a simple coincidence or was there more to it than that? Did the cricket player just happen to be in the right place at the right time or was there some divine guidance at work behind the scenes?

We all know that God answers prayers. But surprisingly God often begins taking action to answer our prayers long before we even know or are willing to acknowledge that we need his help. As supporting evidence I offer two examples. The first is the story I just shared about needed a jump start.

The second is a story that is as old as time itself. It has its origins in mists of time before the first words of creation were spoken. And yet, it is also an ongoing story as fresh as anything you will find in the headlines of any newspaper. Paul’s description of it was recorded for us in the fifth chapter of Romans.

Rom 5:8-11 (But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.) (NIV)

Someone once said, “God answers prayers; just sometimes he uses people.” Remember the small boy who shared his lunch and was part of the miracle when Jesus fed the five thousand?

Why was he there that day? Why was he the only one in that large crowd who brought a lunch? There is no doubt in my mind that God could have fed that crowd without his three fish and five loaves. But yet there he was; in the right place and at the right time to be part of a miracle.

We live in a broken world surrounded by imperfect people and so we are also surrounded by opportunities to share the good news of the gospel through words and actions.

John R. Fowler is the Pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Prosper.