Book Review: “When God Winks At You”

“When God Winks At You,” SQuire Rushnell, Nelson Books.  232 pages.

  • Critical read
  • Must read
  • Good read
  • Read if you want
  • Read something else

Why you should read this book: Every day there are events in our lives that seem random and coincidental.  While some of these may seem difficult, most are positive experiences.  Far too often these events go unnoticed, or we deem then just that – coincidences.  At best we smile at them, perhaps acknowledge surprise, and move on.

What if they weren’t coincidences?

That is a question that drives the narrative in this book.  Rushnell, a former executive for ABC television, digs into many stories of things that are “too coincidental” to be, well, coincidental.  His premise, which in light of the stories he reports would seem reasonable, is that there is a God and He seems to delight in surprising us with “Godwink” moments, often just when we need them desperately.

The stories are compelling.  A woman decides to attend a church in Southern California, having put off that visit for more than twenty years.  On this first visit she is seated next to a young woman who is visiting the church for the first time as well.  This young woman has traveled from the Midwest to SoCal to try to find her birth mother, whom she has never met.  This sparks a conversation between the two, since the older woman gave up her newborn daughter for adoption – in the Midwest. You can see this one coming, can’t you?  Yes, the young woman is that daughter, and after decades she meets her birth mother on her first visit to this church, by “coincidentally” being seated next the mom who was also on her first visit to this church.  Coincidence?  Or a gift, a “Godwink,” as Rushnell calls them?  The book is filled with stories such as this, some from famous people whose names you might recognize, others from people like you and me.

The point: Much of what we either dismiss (or celebrate) as coincidence has a better explanation.  There are divine workings going on all the time around us.  Gifts, or “Godwinks.”  They are speaking of a God who is there, who desire to affirm us, and who exists to love us.

To love all of us whether or not we love Him, for not everyone in these stories is a person of faith when the “Godwink” occurs.  And not all are people of faith after it occurs.  But the one thing they all came to believe is that there is a force for good that expresses itself in gifts given to unsuspecting recipients.  All the time.

Impact:  This book was a much-needed infusion of fresh perspective and no small amount of wonder at how our God winks at us.  Years ago, I worked with a person who stated, “I don’t believe in miracles; I rely on them.”  Over the years I have grown in my ability to see that our God is at work “behind the scenes” in our lives all the time.  This is true whether we see it or not, whether we believe in Him or not.  Big or small, these “Godwinks” are consistent in their occurrence.

Interestingly, it has become clear that these occur in the midst of dark times as well as good times. Sadly, I have missed so many of them due to my preoccupation with the troubles of the moment.  Some I recognize them later, but I fear many were lost in my preoccupations.  Reading this book was a powerful reminder to keep looking for the “coincidences,” the unexpected surprises that are our God giving a gift out of His generosity.

Many will scoff at this premise, mostly due to not understanding the nature of the God-human relationship.  The question will be, “Well, if God is so concerned with giving us gifts, why did my husband leave me?  Why do I have cancer?  Why do I not win the lottery?”

I cannot unpack all the truth behind this issue, except to say we as a race of humans, and as individual members of that race, have rejected His influence over us.  Because of this, we deserve nothing from Him, or perhaps worse.  Yet He does not give us what we deserve.  He does not give us everything we want, either, and for that we should be grateful.  He regularly demonstrates His interest in us with gifts given as “Godwinks,” and by these He demonstrates that He still loves us and desires to reach to us.

“But what about all the hatred, violence, and evil in the world?  If He loves us, He should stop all of that!”  I must admit I have never understood that line of reasoning. We have told God once and often to get out of our lives and leave us alone.  He did, except to consistently reach to us to remind us that He is still interested in a friendship.  Without Him in our lives, humans have devised all manner of evil against each other, and the entire creation groans under that burden.  What is surprising is not that our God doesn’t save our bacon whenever we want Him to do so.  Rather it is surprising that He does, and so often.

Quotes: “Every time you receive what some call a coincidence or an answered prayer, it’s a direct and personal message of reassurance from God to you – what I call a godwink. It’s similar to when you were a kid sitting at the dining room table.  You looked up and saw someone you loved looking back.  Mom or Dad or Granddad.  They gave you a little wink.  That’s what a godwink is.  Every so-called coincidence or answered prayer is God’s way of giving you His small, silent communication.  A little wink saying, “Hey, kid! I’m thinking of you…right now!”

“One of the things I like the most about godwinks is that they are tangible signposts from God, making His presence known in our lives every single day.  If you want to be certain that God has been in your life all along, take the time to excavate your past, to uncover prior winks from God that you didn’t notice, shrugged off, or forgot about.”

Similar: Also from Rushnell are the books, “When God Winks,” and “Couples Who Pray.”

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