Divine Guidance or Coincidence? by Toni Scott

Published June 9, 2011 by Gail Norris in Articles, Parish Magazine

Before coming to Swanmore, Paul and I lived, for many years, in Woking. It was an agreeable place and, by the time we left, had a large theatre with all the latest bells and whistles.

This had the advantage of being in a complex where there were car parks, shops, cinemas, and, at one time, a nightclub. So why did we move?

We had both retired; our children and our fathers (who lived with us) had moved on and our house and garden were too large. We were also getting older and in danger of being in a rut. It was time for a fresh start. We prayed for guidance to move to the place where God wanted us.

A good friend says that when he gets answers to prayer he is told that it is “just coincidence”, but asks why it is that “coincidences” happen more often when he has prayed than when he has not.

However, guidance can come in many forms. When we moved from our first home in the outer London suburbs, we had set our hearts on living in Guildford. However, although we looked at some pleasant houses, none seemed quite right. Woking was suggested but didn’t appeal. At that time, it was full of traffic jams, and had a large empty space in the town centre in the middle of which was a single building housing the Atalanta Ballroom and an electrical shop. The rest of the space was given over to car parking. No, Woking certainly wasn’t for us..

It seems God had other ideas. Eventually we went to see a bungalow at Westfield, on the outskirts. We didn’t buy the bungalow, but we did move into a cul de sac of new houses in the same area. Despite our misgivings, it was a good place to live. There were trees in the centre of the road and in some of the gardens. Most of our neighbours, like us, were couples with young children and because we had so much in common, we quickly became a community. We found a church we liked and made a circle of friends. In fact, everything bore out the comments of a friend that if you’re a Christian you have ready-made friends wherever you go. This has certainly been true for us. Over the next few years, the town centre was largely rebuilt and a ring road took traffic from the town centre streets. We stayed for 29 years.

Having decided to move on, we wanted to be somewhere accessible to Portsmouth for the Channel crossing. Our first idea of moving to the New Forest area was a non-starter because we would be no nearer to Portsmouth than we were in Woking. We asked some friends who knew the area to suggest somewhere we might like between Southampton and Portsmouth. They suggested Bishops Waltham. We looked both there and in Swanmore and found our present house.

Paul had stipulated that we should find somewhere with a library, a station and a good local church. We have the church and the library. Two out of three isn’t bad.

It’s no use just praying for guidance and waiting for an answer out of the blue. God can, and does, work through circumstances, so we take action and wait to see what will happen. Our experience is that if we’re doing the wrong thing, it just doesn’t work out.

Toni Scott