Intentional Serendipity

Sunday, Jan 1, 2023
Jim Sutton

Rachel and I spent time this morning talking about our hopes, dreams, aspirations and desires for this year. In the conversation we took the time to recognize the strengths God has placed in each of us and how to weave them together more effectively in the coming year.

There are probably many other couples that have found intentional dialog important to their marital happiness. Healthy couples avoid the corrosive effects of neglect that result in corrosion of the relationship, much like rust can effectively destroy the beauty, usefulness and strength of metal on a car body. Intentionality is one relational modality. My personality naturally leans toward this type of relationship. Serendipity is defined as the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way. Rachel leans toward this relational modality. We have friends that comprise the spectrum of these two relational modalities, and a few that are outside of these two relational lifestyles.

We spent some time this morning discussing how our two relational approaches can be combined more effectively in 2023. Good conversations will often combine aspects of these approaches. For instance, “rabbit trails” are the path of least resistance to those who value serendipity. That is the stuff of new ideas and experiences that are an effective elixir for serendipitous individuals. But sometimes an idea is intentionally explored that results in creating an experience that is every bit as delightful as one gained through serendipity. Our conversation employed both modalities, yielding a morning that was profitable and meaningful for our venture into 2023.

We explored the unfulfilled desires of serendipity and intentional apirations, lamenting the exponential unlikeliness of certain dreams as we age. We also explored the reasons for those unfulfilled desires, and the formidable barriers that seem to predict the future. And then we recognized that Scripture gives us indications that this is an experience that our ancestors have conveyed to us. Sarah lamenting that she was too old to fulfill God’s promise to Abraham. Joseph lamenting that his dream of being honored and revered by his family was wasting away in an Egyptian prison. Jeremiah lamenting the demise of civil society, Naomi experiencing a bleak future as everything that provided security and safety collapsed around her.

Tears were shed as the feelings were shared. Later the irony of those tears were revealed in a short drive to visit with other family by a serendipitous observation. God speaks to us in ways we cannot control, and often do not anticipate. His words carry life in them. As we age and pursue a relationship with God, we come to understand the meaning of the Psalmist: “My soul thirsts for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water”. Yet we have living water, the kind that results in never being thirsty again according to the Gospel of John’s recording of Jesus’ words. The dichotomy is the same one that exists between contentment and dissatisfaction. Thomas Edison said that “Restlessness is discontent and discontent is the first necessity of progress”. Paul tells Timothy that “godliness combined with contentment brings great profit”. Our conversation went down this path, marveling at the balance of these two ideals in our life this past year.

So we are primed with some new ideals we will pursue in 2023, ways to balance these two competing plays that act out on the stage of our hearts. Relationships will continue to be our focus, while developing better ways to communicate the reasons for our joy and the love we desire to share with others that we have received from our Creator, Counselor and Lord.