Called to Serve: A Garden God-incidence

God is close to the brokenheartedI met her in the garden.

A grocery bag of frozen shrimp and milk rested in the backseat, but on a whim I turned my car away from home to find the community vegetable garden I’d seen from afar. What I’d read about the garden didn’t align with what I observed, so of course my curiosity demanded exploration.

She was walking her two dogs.

Bending to pet her dogs, I asked if she knew about the garden. The long time resident described its history and purpose then slumped against her car and said, “You know, I almost didn’t get out of bed this morning. But these dogs… He used to walk them.”

Her husband died 18 days ago.

Immediately, I recognized who urged me to explore despite my groceries: the Holy Spirit. I call this a God-incidence – an encounter orchestrated by God that seems like serendipity. Forget the groceries! God wanted to comfort this brokenhearted woman though me.

The Holy Spirit heard Mary’s cries.

The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Psalm 34:17-18 

I knew my role because over the past few years God has placed me in situations to minister to the aging, dying, and grieving. He’s placed me in leadership for a small nursing home congregation, an end-of-life discussion group and a grief support group. I’ve helped families honor a loved one in death.

God used my experience to comfort this widow. God assured Mary that He sees her pain.

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me… he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted.
Isaiah 61:1

God is calling me to a niche I wouldn’t choose.

I’ve learned not to be surprised by the way God works through me. I only realized that the Holy Spirit had commandeered the steering wheel when I heard Mary’s story. At that point the Spirit also inspired me to disregard the logic associated with spoiled food and give my full attention to His mission. I listened. We walked, cried, embraced and praised God. I invited Mary to the grief support group starting in September.

God calls and equips us to serve in His Kingdom

Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts according to the grace given us. Romans 12:4-5

The one body is the universal church, united in one mission to love the world. You may be a pinky toe helping maintain balance or the frontal cortex expressing God’s creativity. Every person is designed for a purpose which is necessary to the body.


How has God designed you to participate in his mission?

Ask yourself (and the people who know you best) these questions.

  • What are you good at? Numbers and budgets? Do you have a knack for organizing and planning? Can you explain things well?
  • What is your passion? What topics do you frequently Google? What do your podcast subscriptions suggest?
  • What struggles have you experienced that someone else might be experiencing and benefit from sharing with someone who understands?
  • Is there a condition or cause that breaks your heart? What is it about the issue that distresses you?
  • What resources has God blessed you with?
  • Do you interact with a particular demographic or people group that is different from your own? How does this connection occur?
  • As you look at the big moments in your life, how did they change your direction? Is there a pattern? How did these events come about? Could it have been a divine redirect?

Asking these questions helps us see how God has designed and equipped us to serve in His Kingdom. But, don’t wait until you find the precise role God has for you. You might be in training for a future role, gaining skills and experiences.

Start serving Him today by loving people and loving His creation. Allow yourself to be interrupted from your schedule and watch how He uses you.

Would you share a God-incidence story in the comments? Hearing about His hand at work in the world inspires me.

The Backstory to this God-incidence:

After forcing herself out of bed, Mary canceled a visit with a friend. She wasn’t up to seeing anyone. For the dogs’ outing she chose the garden over the tennis courts, the schoolyard, or the pond. The garden would be empty at this time of day. Little did she know she wasn’t alone.

My morning routine toppled because I forgot to make iced coffee the night before. So I brushed my teeth and dressed out of sequence. I rationalized that groceries were a task for later in the morning anyway, so combining Dunkin’ and shopping made sense. It redeemed the morning, just out of order. Little did I know God would rewrite the day’s to-do list.

#SeedsofScripture #scripturestudy #readthebiblebetter #apostlepaul # #hearinggodsvoice #prophetisaiah #notalone #closetothebrokenhearted #godincidence #godsmack #godwink


  1. Mari on August 2, 2023 at 8:53 PM

    So beautifully told, is this story of God’s guidance.

    • CathyChung on August 4, 2023 at 4:42 PM

      Thank you.It was absolutely God’s guidance for both involved.

  2. J.D. Wininger on August 3, 2023 at 6:47 AM

    Amen. We can’t understand the reason we are called by God for certain tasks, but I remind myself often, “I don’t have to understand, I have to obey His calling.” I wanted to work with calves, not kids. I wanted to plant wheat, not seeds of faith. I wanted to rest, not write. A lesson I’ve learned is that this life in Christ has nothing to do with what I want for my life, but for what God wants during this short time that I serve as His ambassador in this world. My life is but a vapor when I compare it to the life eternal I began in 1975. How God chooses to use His slave is His concern, not mine. I have shackled myself to the yoke of Christ. And I’m learning to let Him lead rather than fight against His direction. When I do surrender to His lead, my load is much less. What a wonderful divine appointment you had. I’m just certain you walked away with such a joyful heart in knowing you helped unburden someone with God’s love. And I love the niche He has called you too my friend. While it may not be where you thought you would serve, if I’m honest, I could see Him preparing you for this years ago when we met.

    • CathyChung on August 4, 2023 at 4:43 PM

      As always, a powerful testimony of an obedient, faithful, servant. Thanks JD. I wonder what you saw in me that placed me in this ministry. I didn’t see it coming.

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