I’ve always said that there is no such thing as a coincidence. When things fall into place I believe that God is at work behind the scenes. The correlation of events that lead to these serendipitous moments have often been described as Godwinks. They are seen as a sign of God’s intervention or an answer to prayer.

Recently, I heard a story that fit the bill. It was almost too good to be true. I was volunteering as part of an informal honor guard. The chief, Richard and I represented the fire department that day. We were joined by family members to witness the scattering of ashes of one of our former firefighters, Jack Zapatka. It was a beautiful day.

We watched as the ashes were spread on the east side of Watch Hill Point from the lawn outside the lighthouse. Jack and his brothers grew up in Watch Hill. They followed in their father’s footsteps and joined the fire department back in the late 1970s. When Jack died this year, the family decided that this was the place for them to offer their final goodbye.

They arranged the memorial service with Captain Jack Spratt, and set out on his charter boat, ENCORE. It was a moving moment and afterward, Bob and Dave Zapatka stopped by the station to thank us. As we chatted, I learned that Dave was a well-known lighthouse photographer. A few years earlier he began taking nightime pictures of lighthouses in southern New England, including the Watch Hill Lighthouse.

The images he captured were absolutely breathtaking. So when he told us the story about one of his latest shoots, I was all ears. You see he was looking to shoot the West Bank Lighthouse off Staten Island, N.Y. The problem was that it was sold to a private buyer in 2010. He needed permission to do so and he couldn’t locate the owner.

Then one day he got a lead and learned that the owner lived in New Rochelle, N.Y. He remembered that an old classmate from Westerly worked in the town hall there and he reached out to her. In that small-world moment he soon learned that one of her coworkers lived right next door to him. And that’s how he got permission for the shoot.

Things don’t always work out like that for us. When they do, it gives us a good reason to pause, look up, and thank God. Yet, too often we accept the gift and never look back. There is a story in Luke 17 where Jesus heals 10 men with leprosy. Nine go their way rejoicing and only one comes back to thank Jesus. It is a story that convicts us.

Too often we get so wrapped up in what we are doing that we don’t take the time to thank God. We take those little coincidences that bless our lives for granted. We accept them as our good luck. Let me encourage you today to stop and take stock of the blessings you have received. Then turn around and give God the glory. Look up and wink back at him.

The Rev. Cal Lord is pastor of Central Baptist Church in Westerly.

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