In my home state, a hundred miles or so from the city life of Fairbanks, there are two rivers as different as two could be. One is silty, muddy, and thick from natural debris. It is the color of sand because it consists of tons of it. It is a fast running river with a heavy current which can be dangerous if not respected. The other river is clear and potable (at least it was when I was a boy). We drank from it without fear and we always believed it was the best water we had ever tasted. It was cold and flowed in the warmer months from the melting snow cascading in torrents from the high hills and mountain peaks surrounding it. My Dad, my uncle, and the rough Alaskan “old timers” I knew then revered that river as if it was the best place on earth. Even the name was inviting. It was called “The Goodpasture.” My dad and his brother spoke of it as if was their favorite place. Every year, a trip “up the Goodpasture” was the high light of our summer as often as we could steal away. I have a thousand good memories of “running the river” up the Goodpasture.
Getting there wasn’t easy. First we drove almost 100 miles to the boat landing. The first several miles in the boat consisted of fighting the constant current on the silty, muddy, swirling waters of the Tanana River. Then, around a bend in the muddy river, the “convergence” occured. The meandering flow of the Goodpasture emptied into the Tanana and for at least a few yards the clear water was obvious before it was swallowed up by the silty, swift and overwhelming power of the Tanana. But for a brief time the two rivers nearly formed a third distinct body of water-neither completely muddy nor completely clear. It was a convergence of the two, distinct from either of the other.
I mention all of this because if it weren’t for that intersection of two different rivers they would have little in common. The choppy waters of the Tanana aren’t easy to travel but if you want to get to the rustic but welcome cabins along the Goodpasture, that convergence is essential- it is the way you go up the Goodpasture. As far as I know, it’s the only way- it certainly was the only way we ever got there.
CONVERGENCES OF CIRCUMSTANCES OUTSIDE YOUR CONTROL
In other examples, in apparently unconnected aspects of life, convergences sometimes occur in the unexpected connections between seemingly unrelated people. For instance, when God prepares to move in power He often aligns previously independent forces. That’s what happened in the well known story of David Wilkerson’s life.
Many people are familiar with the broad outline of what happened nearly 60 years ago when Rev. Wilkerson went to New York City to help Gang members. The rural pastor had grown frustrated with his life and ministry, and had begun retreating to his prayer room for hours each night crying out to God.
The story has often been repeated about the night he saw a Life Magazine cover that caught his eye- it pictured several boys on trial for murder in New York City. The sight was the impetus for Wilkerson’s decision to go to New York in response to what he perceived to be a calling from God. Once he arrived the events that unfolded became the basis of the international Bestseller, “The Cross and the Switchblade.”
So far, that story is well known. What might not be so well known are the details involved in the convergence of God’s plan in a seemingly unrelated series of events taking place at the same time. While David Wilkerson, (the then unknown country preacher from rural Pennsylvania) was growing restless and frustrated with his life and sensing a growing burden to spend his evenings in prayer, unbeknownst to him, in New York City, a journalist living and working among the wealthy and erudite intellectual elite in Upper Manhattan, named John Sherrill, though only nominally Christian, had become uncharacteristically burdened over the moral and social decay of the city. He was privately, persistently praying for miracles. Meanwhile, a third strand of a growing convergence was being woven into the heart of an intense young man with a growing reputation as a prayer warrior. Dick Simmons was a Christian Bible-college student across town who had recently been gripped by a new burden to intercede for the city. He was regularly crying out to God for somebody to be raised up, by God’s power, to reach the gangs and restless youth of the inner city. One night he went down to the woods by the Hudson River and prayed for hours. His loud prayers even brought the police out to investigate what was going on. He told the officers he was praying for God to send laborers into the harvest of the city. The police didn’t know what to think of that, so they left him there praying.
HOW THE HOLY SPIRIT CREATES CONVERGENCE
The Holy Spirit was creating a convergence of circumstances- made up of disconnected lives about to be united in God’s heart for the city. They were three men-strangers to each other- with only one thing in common. The country preacher from Pennsylvania, the Manhattan journalist, and the intercessor in Bible College, all had an urgent burden for prayer and they all knew it would take a miracle to reach the New York City gangs. The miracle, they were soon to learn, was on the way. For instance, the very night the police found Dick Simmons praying for laborers in the woods by the Hudson, David Wilkerson, at that very moment, was barreling through the darkness toward New York City unshakably convinced God had instructed him to go help gang members. God was orchestrating a convergence.
How did those three praying men converge? John Sherrill, the Manhattan journalist, met David after the preacher made local news in New York while trying to minister to gang members. A few years later, Sherrill helped Wilkerson chronicle his experiences in The Cross and the Switchblade, a book published in 1963 which has never gone out of print, and which became one of the most influential Christian books of the 20th century. Dick Simmons, the Bible college student with a burden for laborers in the harvest, later met David Wilkerson and under the minister’s visionary guidance, helped Wilkerson start Teen Challenge, one of the most effective drug treatment ministries in the world. God brought the three men together and used them, in a sense, as a part of the answer to their own prayers!
DOES GOD REPEAT HIMSELF?
Can God do it again? Of course. He is doing it all the time. He is doing it now. If you pray and seek His face, and passionately believe and don’t give up, He will probably involve you in His converging plans to reach people in our world today. Imagine the faith it builds in you when you know that even “impossible” circumstances are possible because God is always working behind the scenes to create unexpected breakthrough. And when you think you’re alone, consider the times someone else felt alone but then “miraculously” met others with the same burdens and hunger for God. Do you remember the story of the prophet Elijah? He repeatedly insisted he was the last of the prophets (1 Kings 18-19). It was only when Elijah was nearly too discouraged to go on that God assured the lonely, discouraged prophet He still had “7000 who hadn’t bowed the knee to Baal” (1 Kings 19:18). Following that promise God introduced a convergence-the young prophet Elisha– a man with a kindred spirit!
If you are praying for your family, your school, your church, city, or nation, you are not alone. God is building a convergence in the burdened hearts of praying people everywhere. Keep praying and expect the unexpected. It’s how God works! God may be preparing a team of wise, praying friends to join with your own intercessions and pleading prayers. You should be on the look out for them. The streams of God’s love are flooding into a thousand other hearts, like tributaries rolling down from hills of mercy. Be ready. Someone you least expect right now may part of the answers to your prayers. There may be a clear river of blessing ready to converge with your faith and prayers at any time. God is already at work. He’s waiting for you to join Him.