If you’re a person of faith as I am you’ve probably learned about ways to connect with God. Where we initiate the connection through Bible reading, prayer, listening to music, appreciating the wonders of creation, and all that. 

This month of April though, I’ve been thinking about ways God connects with us. When he initiates the connection. When we’re the recipient of God reaching out to us.

In last week’s post,“The Most Life-Giving Conversation of My Life,” I talked about how I responded to Jesus and his invitation to have a personal relationship with him. I was 19 then, and it was the first time I ever felt a connection with God. It happened on April 4, 1968.  

April 4th – one life begins while another one ends

As I later learned that evening, it was also the same day Martin Luther King was assassinated.  Here’s what I wrote about that day in my book, THEM -The Richer Life Found in Caring for Others.

“After leaving the [Campus Crusade for Christ] meeting that evening in the student union, we noticed something very odd. All the TVs were turned on, which was unusual for this era long before CNN and the 24-hour news cycle of our present day. All the networks were broadcasting the late-breaking news of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. earlier that afternoon. We all stood stunned, our eyes glued to the TV screens.

“His life had ended in Memphis, Tennessee on April 4, 1968, the same day my life—my spiritual life—began in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Janet and I met life the same day he met death. And as I learned many years later, April 4th was also the birth date of Jack E. Byrd, my birth father. He celebrated his forty-sixth birthday the same day I celebrated my spiritual birth, and which I’m now writing about forty-six years later [in 2014].

“The coincidence between these events still chills me.”

More than a coincidence

I need to interject here about my birth father. I’m the product of a one-night stand he had with my mother, who was single at the time. A portion of my book is about my origin's effect on me for many years and my obsession with tracking down Jack Edward Byrd.

As I look at the numbers in retrospect, I don’t think any of these April 4th and 46-year connections are coincidences at all. Instead, I see them as invitations to connect with God as he reveals himself to me. With a smile on his face, it’s his way of saying, 

“These April 4th events I’ve orchestrated in your life is my creative way of connecting with you to let you know I’m real and I’m there for you. I’ve got your back.”

What an unusual way to connect with God. But wonderful, nevertheless.

A 4th connection to April 4th

As if these April 4th stories were not enough. There’s one more.

Janet’s mother, Elda, was one of the most loving people I have ever met.  The second podcast episode I ever recorded was about my relationship with my mother-in-law, episode 002, “The Gift of a Background Relationship”

The last 12 years of her life, and maybe even before that, she suffered from Alzheimer's. In spite of the effects of this terrible disease, her personality never changed. Always kind, rarely complained about anything, and never about anyone. 

In the spring of 2020 Elda’s 96-year-old body couldn’t take it anymore, and she was nearing the end. This also happened to be at the same time Covid-19 was ravaging the world, and people were scared to death. It prevented Janet from visiting her mother at the memory care facility where she lived. 

But then one day they called, and told Janet should come to see her mom because the end was near. They fudged the rules a bit and allowed Janet to stay quarantined  in her mom’s room overnight for a couple of days

There was a beautiful moment during this time of Janet FaceTiming with her sister Jeanne in North Carolina so she could say her goodbyes to her mom from a distance. And then Janet and Jeanne chatting away like they did when they were kids, with their mom lying in her bed taking it all in. And not taking it all in.

The next day

Throughout the following day, Elda slowly declined even further, and the hospice nurse said death was imminent.  Restless legs. One eye opens, and the other shuts.

Finally,  peace came over Elda with a smile across her face. Janet said her mother’s signature smile was one she will never forget.

And then calm came over Janet’s heart as she watched her mother slowly leave her body, her home for the past 96 years. Given the quality of the last few years of Elda’s life. we couldn’t be happier for her new body now living in heaven for the rest of eternity.

It all happened a few minutes before midnight on April 4th, 2020. 

What About You?

I wonder about the stories you have that show how you connected with God because of something God initiated with you.  Where God orchestrated something in your life to let you know he was there. I bet you have something similar to my April 4th stories. I’d love to hear them, and I bet others would, too.

Resources mentioned 

Last week’s blog post, “The Most Life-Giving Conversation of My Life”

THEM -The Richer Life Found in Caring for Others

Episode 002 of You Were Made for This, “The Gift of a Background Relationship

Episode 059, “The Last Place You Would Ever Think to Find Joy”

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Our blog posts and You Were Made for This podcast are sponsored by Caring for Others, a missionary care ministry.