You’re sitting on the side of the road in your car. It’s just broken down. As you sit and wait for the tow, you remember the last time your car broke down. It almost feels like Deja-vu, as the same worries and fears flood your mind again. The stress subsides quickly however; you recall how God provided last time. Taking a step back, you praise the Lord for a reminder of His faithfulness and that He uses even unfortunate circumstances to point us to Himself.
We all have moments like this. Our Lord uses parallel circumstances to remind us of His character and to reinforce His work in us. “Deja-vu” moments, as a result, can be Spiritual milestones of God defining who we are in Him.
Two Biblical examples of such milestones come to mind.
1. David, the Chased
Shortly after encountering David early in 1 Samuel, we learn that he had to flee from the king he served. King Saul, fearful of David’s popularity and might, was intent on killing him. So began David’s ministry as a public figure elected by God. A number of Psalms outline David’s learning to rely on the Lord for his deliverance and future, though enemies persecuted him (See Psalms 7, 27, and 53 for example).
Eventually, David became king. He was referred to as “the man after God’s own heart”. His reign was marked by extreme prosperity and rampant popularity. Over time, David committed prideful, bold sin. His family found itself in turmoil in more than one circumstance.
Then, David was chased again. His own son, Absalom, had decided he would take the throne and kill David to gain rule over the kingdom. On the run again, David was reminded of the difficulty of being personally persecuted and betrayed. In the parallel circumstance, David had reinforced in his heart his need for reliance on God. Psalm 3:3 highlights David’s choice to again trust in the Lord in his difficulty: “But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high.”
2. Peter, The Fisher of Men
When Peter became a disciple of Jesus, he was a fisherman out on a boat, having poor luck. He obeyed Jesus’ strange command to let down the net on the other side of the boat. Catching an abundance immediately, Peter was amazed. He committed to following Jesus. Christ told Peter he would make him a “fisher of men” (Mark 1:17).
From then on, Peter was a disciple. He was zealous, even to a fault. Come Jesus’ arrest, however, Peter did the very thing he swore he’d never do: he denied his Lord and Savior -three times! Ashamed, Peter continued to seek God. He was around to discover that Jesus was raised from the dead, for example.
One day after the resurrection, Peter had Deja-vu. Out fishing and having poor luck, a man showed up on shore. The man suggested exactly what Jesus had those years before: try the other side. Up came a ton of fish. John recognized what was happening, as he told Peter, the ever-excited disciple ran to Jesus. It was then that Jesus reinforced Peter’s calling.
During David’s first experience of being persecuted, He experienced true reliance on the Lord. David learned to put his trust and hope in God. It was a milestone in his life. Likewise, Peter hit a major milestone in his life when Jesus called him to be a fisher of men.
For both these men, God used a “Deja-vu,” or parallel, experience, to reinforce truth about His own character and His work in their hearts.
As we encounter situations and circumstances, like sitting on the side of the road when our car breaks down (again,) we might find that God is reminding us that “the Lord plans our steps” (Proverbs 16:9). We sometimes find ourselves back “in” moments that have proven to be significant in our spiritual development. When there, we are blessed to remember who it is that guides us, and how surely He is at work within us, regardless of all that tries to distract us from His glorious presence.