When God Winks on New Beginnings by SQuire Rushnell

Book Summary

This book is full of stories of amazing coincidences and divine intervention. The book is not very long and is a quick read. It is not one of my favorites (and I have lots of favorites), but if you need encouragement in terms of starting something new or continuing on in something, this book is for you. I picked this up as part of research I am doing for my book Circumstantial Evidence where I reflect on the role that circumstances play in hearing and discerning God’s voice. [not the audible kind but the still small voice in our spirit].


SQuire emphasizes in the introduction that even though there are many amazing stories in this book, the stories are not about the people in the stories. The book is about you. [Very 1980ish!] In spite of the hype, he really wants to help you do things you have never done before.  I am not sure the book will help me to do wingsuiting, but I still felt very encouraged by the book to step out  into some new areas and to continue on in some difficult areas.

Let’s start with a definition of a godwink from my perspective. A godwink is a signpost of encouragement and reassurance. They are like those winks you got from a Dad or Grandparent that says: “Hey kid! I’m thinking of you right now. Hang in there.” You will fully understand it when I recount some of the stories. Later in the chapter 3 he defines a godwink as: “A personal signal or message directly from God, sometimes as an answer to prayer, and often labeled as a coincidence.”

Finally, he closes the Introduction by telling us that we “must determine where [we] want to go.” I would go further and quote Andy Stanley who taught me: “Direction determines destination.” [see The Principle of the Path]. See this short clip by Andy. https://video.foxbusiness.com/v/3885959/#sp=show-clips  or the book by the same name. So after you determine where you want to go, you need to evaluate the direction of your life. Is the direction you are headed going to take you where you want to go?

Chapter 1 Which Road to Take

“Look inside yourself, at the goals and dreams God has planted inside you, and identify what you need to be happy, then put things in motion to secure that happiness.” Robin McGraw From My Heart to Yours.

Okay – don’t shut this down yet. We have all heard “It’s all about me.” And the pursuit of happiness. But let’s face it. We all need encouragement. Keep going. The book gets better.

Story #1 – Cheryl always wanted to be a writer. She moved to LA from her home town of Charlotte and worked and worked trying to break into script writing. In the midst of a career of starts and stops she got called home to care for her dad. She knew it was pulling her away from her dream. She sent out a prayer request via email concerning her Dad to everyone in her address book. She got a call and a job from someone right in Charlotte who got the email. She got her first script writing job. The first godwink.

One night while writing the script, she had a dream that her best friend was going to star in the film. At the filming, she found out that her best friend got the part. This was a major godwink. Both of these encouraged her to continue to pursue her “impossible” dream.

Story #2 – Tom Harken contracted polio at age 8. He was placed in isolation and an iron lung for months. He prayed the prayer of a lonely kid. One day, while in the lung, he threw up on himself but couldn’t clean himself off. No one came until finally a doctor came, cleaned him up, took him out of the iron lung and just held him. He whispered into his ear: “Tommy, I want you to know that God loves you. Even when you wonder about God, He’s there. He’s watching over you. He’s protecting you. Keep your faith, Tommy. Keep your faith.” He immediately got better and was soon released from the hospital. This doctor provided a godwink that dramatically affected Tom’s life.

But two days later he was diagnosed with TB and was again placed in isolation. He stayed isolated in his bedroom for a very long time. One day his father stomped a message in the snow outside his window. “I love you Tommy.” This was a godwink. Years passed and eventually the doctors reported him cured. He was released and went back to school. But a teacher ridiculed him for being dumb when he really was uneducated due to the long years of illness. He left school and never went back. He worked hard in his father’s grocery store. Eventually he started many successful businesses. He never learned to read and in fact hid his illiteracy from everyone – including his boys. When he received the Horatio Alger award, his speech was so memorable that Henry Kissinger said that he would never forget it.  It was these two godwinks that kept him going.

Chapter 2: The Empowerment of Belief

Story #3 – While a young man, Franklin Graham was piloting a small plane home. His parents, Billy and Ruth, were praying up a storm that their son would arrive safely. Part way home, the plane lost electrical power and was in complete darkness. They flew back to the last radio beacon they had seen. But when they got there, the airport had shut down and was completely black. But, it “just so happened” that the director of the tower decided to show some friends around. He even pointed a light into the sky used to indicate that it was safe to land  in order to show them how the landing system worked. Unbeknownst to him, there was a plane up there. Franklin took it as a signal to land even though the runway lights were dark. As he approached, the tower controller demonstrated to his guests the full emergency runway lights. He kept them on until just after the plane landed and then abruptly turned them off. Franklin assumed that they were being rude and saving money – but later learned it was a godwink.

Story #4 – A wife and husband had a terrible marriage that ended in divorce. The husband, Bob, soon after the divorce, contracted ALS – Lou Gehrig’s disease. While praying about what she should do, she saw a license plate that said: ALS 03. She thought it meant that she was to care for Bob. It was hard caring for him and was very costly in many ways. One day, as she was driving home, she cried out to God “Why am I doing this?” She immediately saw a license plate that said “4 God.” Then and there she knew her calling. As Bob deteriorated, both of them were healed of their relational wounds and in their relationships to God. All because of two godwinks. As she was explaining this to a friend one day, the friend lamented that she never experienced God like that. Just then a car pulled in front of them with the license plate: “KP PRAYN.”

Chapter 3: Where Hope Springs From

Story #5 – A woman and her husband had a child named Vicki born with severe disabilities. Vicki responded to virtually nothing. One doctor believed that he could find something she would respond to.  In test after test, he failed to get Vicki to respond. At last there was a breakthrough and after much hard work, Vicki became able to respond to more and more things. She eventually was able to productively work in a horticulture program. Her mom realized that God planted a desire in her heart to start a facility where others like Vicki could be helped.  After a year, she got nowhere raising the money for such a facility. Finally, she cried out to God “Did I hear you wrong, God?” The next day she received 4 checks for over $72,000 in 2 hours. Today, three decades later, the facility is the model for many facilities around the world helping people like Vicki develop self-reliance and self-respect. Because Vicki’s mom persevered after a godwink.

This reminds me of two godwinks we received at MicroTools. We were not bringing in any business. It was 11:59 and we cried in desperation. Things happened within hours that brought in business. There is more to the story – but let’s move on with SQuire.

Chapter 4: Stepping out in faith

Story #6 – SQuire was going to a job interview at a small radio station 10 miles up the road via hitchhiking. He dreamed of being a DJ at a radio station. His hero was Dean Harris – a DJ from a faraway radio station. No one picked him up until a green Volkswagon pulled up and the man introduced himself as Dean Harris. A definite godwink.

Story #7 – A woman from LA was doing a TV production for Biography. Her assignment was to find a relative of the Faberge’s. This was pre-Internet days and her search proved futile. She decided to take a break and go with her husband and daughter to London. While there, they happened to go into a shop where the shop clerk introduce himself as Theo Faberge. He provided everything she needed for the story. The link was made and the godwink delivered.

Chapter 5: How to Re-purpose Rejection

This chapter opens with SQuire talking about rejection. He tells about how silly it is to start making up a dejected story when someone doesn’t return your call. I was doing that just this morning. I had invited two friends to collaborate on a project two weeks ago and hadn’t heard from them. Then two days ago I sent them another invite. And now today I am making up all kinds of terrible things they must be thinking about me.

Story #8 – This one is about Steve Jobs and frankly – it doesn’t even qualify for repeating.

Story #9 – This one is even less remarkable. It just shows that tenacity is required to succeed but, in my opinion, no obvious godwinks. There is a good quote from Winston Churchill:

Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.

Another good quote:

If you do what you fear you won’t fear what you do. Gordon Morton

West Compass Directions South North Travel

Chapter 6: Finding Your Compass

Story #10 – This story documents the godwinks of the author of What Color is Your Parachute. In this section he documents the 5 worst ways to get a job and the 5 best ways to get a job.

Story #11 – This documents the story of the founder of Yankee Candle and the godwink in his life.

Story #12 – This story documents Carol and her Espresso Love coffee shop on Martha’s Vineyard.

I don’t recount these stories, not because they are not interesting, but they are not extraordinary in my limited perception.

Chapter 7 – Personal Requests

Story #13 – This recounts the story of first time home buyers who carefully selected the Buxton model in their new development. As they went to sign the papers, they were extremely anxious. But all fears went away when the lawyer pulled out a briefcase that had the brand name Buxton. This was a godwink. All fears left.

Story #14 – Next came another real estate story of a man buying his first house. He doesn’t respond to the first prompting to go see a house – but one year later the house came back on the market. As he approached the street to look at the house, he saw the name of the street “Mayberry Lane.” The Andy Griffith show was his favorite. He produced live shows for a living which included shows that were “Andy Griffith” tribute shows.

Story #15 – On a missions trip helping to clean up after hurricane Katrina, Cristina worked hard day after day. But the total task was overwhelming. They finished one clean up effort only to have the work rejected by the team foreman. They had a lot more work to do. In the midst of the work and in the midst of the debris, she found a rose. Roses had a special meaning of hope to her. That was her godwink.


I will conclude with his quote from the Cheshire cat in Alice in Wonderland

If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there.


The Ultimate Hope

Since our dear Mom passed into eternity a few weeks ago, I have been thinking a lot about hope. I started reading John Eldredge’s All Things New which talks a lot about hope. Last blog, I quoted John a lot concerning the deep longing for hope that we all have.  I want to share some more insights John has about hope in this blog.

John says there are three kinds of hope:

For not all hopes are created equal; there are casual hopes, precious hopes, and ultimate hopes.


… Casual hopes are the daily variety: “I sure hope it doesn’t rain this weekend”; “I hope we can get tickets to the game”; “I really hope this flight is on time.”


… those casual hopes are nothing when compared to our precious hopes: “I hope this pregnancy goes well”; “I hope God hears my prayers for Sally.”  …


Deeper still lie our ultimate hopes, our life-and-death hopes. I would suggest that the only things that belong in the category of ultimate hopes are the things that will destroy your heart and soul if they are not fulfilled. “I hope God can forgive me.” “I hope somehow my mistakes can be redeemed.” “I hope I will see you again.”


Eldredge warns us not to allow these three different types of hope to carry the same weight with our heart and soul.


… many people have let their hopes go wandering—they have made casual hopes into precious hopes and turned genuinely precious hopes into critical or ultimate hopes.

That is a dangerous path for us. When we put too much weight onto our casual hopes or even our precious hopes, we are setting ourselves up for deep disappointment and hurt.

But what are our ultimate hopes? Many years ago, my friend  Kit McDermott told those who came to the Center for Renewal to learn how to listen to God, that “Everything Matters”. How does that tie to hope and to John Eldredge’s book?

Sitting with my Mom those 6 days while she was in a coma, you can easily drift into thoughts about “What matters?” “Can she hear us?” “Does it matter what we say in her presence?” “Does her life matter right now?

Eldredge’s understanding is that the ultimate hope is in the renewal of all things (thus the title). We are not going to go to some ethereal cloud based dwelling and play harps. Rather, he believes that God has shown us through the scriptures, that He is going to renew all things. Everything that is good on this earth will be renewed and made better. Every mountain vista that took our breath away will be restored and made even better. Every vocation that fulfilled a deep longing in us will be perfected and provide even more joy. Every relationship that we ever had will be made right. Our renewed bodies which are broken and battered will literally take our breath away.

We have lost many things as we’ve passed through the battlefields of this war-torn world; our humanity has been stripped of such essential goodness.

Then he states what I would say was the theme of the book.

Nothing is lost

By this I am fairly sure he means: “No good thing is lost.” As I think about and mourn the loss of our Mom, this gives me hope. An ultimate hope. All the years that she was a faithful mother of four children (five if you count my Dad who often was a big kid); all of those years as a dedicated wife and daughter and sister. All those years of waiting after my Dad’s death.

No good thing is lost. In that there is ultimate hope. And this hope will not disappoint.

Longing for Hope

I just spent the last 8 days sitting with my family as we watched our Mom slowly slip away. There are many end-of-life issues that surfaced during this time, but I want to reflect on hope. Certainly as we watch a loved one die, we have the hope for them to escape their pain and the degradation they are experiencing; we have the hope for them that they will be re-united with their loved ones who have gone before them;  we have the hope for us that we will see them again. But what is hope?

Last year, on our daughter’s recommendation, I picked up a copy of John Eldredge’s All Things New . But until last night I had not read it. Listen in on what John says about hope.

He begins the book with an assessment of our current condition which could be characterized with the words: “Life sucks.” These are not John’s words but as he assesses the state of our world he says:

We could sure use some hope right now. … We appear to be suffering a great crisis of hope. It’s taking place loudly in politics and economics; it’s taking place quietly in the hearts of millions at this moment.  … Optimism is not going to cut it. Trying to look on the bright side isn’t going to sustain us through days like we are living in.  …“We all feel the riddle of the earth,” wrote G. K. Chesterton.


I first noticed this “crisis of hope” while keeping track of the number of downloads of my sermons from our web site. For 21 years, year after year, the sermon downloaded the most was “Hoping in God, even if …” It is not the best sermon on hope and people download before they read it but it is indicative of what people are looking for. Recently I heard an interview with N.T. Wright and he expressed surprise that his most popular book was “Surprised by Hope.”

Although these our anecdotal, I think they are indicative that there is a deep longing in us for hope. John defines hope as:

When I speak of hope, I mean the confident anticipation that goodness is coming.


Then he tells us what hope does for us:

Hope literally heals the structures of your brain.


Next he identifies a latent desire for hope woven into our lives. He says

Some sort of promise seems to be woven into the tapestry of life. … That promise fits perfectly with the deepest longing of our hearts—the longing for life to come together as we somehow know it was always meant to. The whispers of this promise touch a wild hope deep within our hearts, a hope we hardly dare to name.


John wrote this even as he couldn’t wait for the year to end because of the deep tragedies he experienced during it. The rest of the book is a reflection on this longing we have “for life to come together as we somehow know” it is suppose to. But since I have not finished the book, we’ll have to pick that up in the next blog.

Let me know in the comment section if you feel that there is a promise of hope woven into your life. Certainly during the past 8 days I have experienced that deep longing. Do you feel that longing?

“Let hope keep you joyful. In trouble stand firm. Persist in prayer.”

Romans 12:12