There was an article in the paper this week about a high school student in Florida who, as a part of a class project, went to the beach and released a message he had enclosed in a wine bottle. That was about sixteen months ago. Cory Swearingen, now a student at Florida Atlantic University, got a message from his high school science teacher saying that the bottle had been found—some 4,000 miles away in Ireland. It had been found by a father and son who were out walking on the beach. It appears that, while rare, Swearingen’s story isn’t altogether unheard of:

In 2004 a fourteen year old boy from Baltimore dropped a message in a wine bottle while on a Caribbean cruise. The bottle was picked up five years later, 4000 miles away on the coast of England by a retired electrician.
In 1979 a couple dropped a message in a bottle during a Pacific cruise. It was picked up by a man in Thailand. This began a correspondence that led to the couple serving as a sponsor for the man’s family to immigrate to the United States.
In 2008 a man in a small, Alaskan fishing village was beachcombing and came across a message in a bottle. It had been written by an elementary school student in Seattle, Washington. What made this one so special was that the message had been written over 20 years ago. The man tracked down the author of the note only to find that she was still living in Seattle, but was now married and working as an accountant.
Chance (or providence, depending on how you look at it) is a funny thing. Who knows how things will turn out once events are set into motion? This Sunday we’re going to be looking at a couple of stories in Acts 16 that remind us of this. Two unlikely people find themselves face to face with the Gospel. It has to be one of the most unexpected turns their lives could have ever taken. Both stories remind us that we really have no idea what God might be up to in our lives. They also remind us to be ready when the opportunities arise. Perhaps God is trying to do something unexpected in your life today. Are you ready?