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Rusty Ferguson
Jason Wright speaks at a multi-denominational faith service in Cleveland, Okla., about "the giving gene."

I write some columns the morning they’re due. Others begin as ping-pong idea balls that bounce around my head for days, weeks, even years.

This one began writing itself in 1987.

It was the year I first began thinking of God as a master architect. He is a perfect, loving and literal father with a view of my journey only available to him. He knows today’s map of my life.

But it’s more than that: He knows the roads, mountains and valleys that aren't even there yet.

He also knows the life intersections that will change me.

One of those intersections happened in December 2011 in the tiny town of Cleveland, Okla. It was the unexpected crossroads of two people, two roads and two friendships.

When my father passed away in 1987, one of my first calls went to Terri Alexander, a dear friend I'd met two years earlier in high school. She’d since moved away with her family to Florida, and we’d remained close. I remember tearfully telling her how my life had changed that night.

I was tired and heaven seemed so distant. I was beaten, and the world seemed to know it.

Terri's family soon invited me to Florida to get away from the stress and sadness of home. I spent several days with them visiting Disney World, attending school with my friend and enjoying the opportunity to think of something besides the hole in my heart.

The trip was an energizing experience, one I will always treasure. We kept in touch for a while and I often called her and her family when I needed a friendly ear. They were a tremendous force for good in my life.

Advance 20 years on my life’s map. I began receiving emails from a friendly man named Rusty Ferguson in Cleveland, Okla. Rusty discovered the tradition of the Christmas Jar and, through his family’s successful newspaper, he’d done heroic work spreading the tradition throughout Cleveland and the surrounding areas.

Rusty wanted me to visit, offer assemblies to the local schools and participate in the town's annual Christmas parade. We communicated for more than a year as he made arrangements for the visit.

Finally, last December, as my final trip of the year, I boarded a plane for Oklahoma. Unfortunately, the trip came at the end of a busy and brutal fall, and I wasn't enthusiastic about it. Admittedly, I was discouraged by some professional challenges and dearly missed my family. I wanted to be home celebrating the holidays and taking the long, deep breaths I thought I deserved.

I was tired and heaven seemed so distant. I was beaten, and the world seemed to know it.

Then I finally met Rusty and he treated me as if we'd been friends forever. I spent two days with him and his delightful wife, Deana. They opened their home and hearts to me, and their love for the Lord is evident in every word that leaves their lips.

With them at my side rooting me on and keeping me awake, I appeared at a Chamber of Commerce event, spoke at a middle school and ended the trip with a parade and spiritual talk at a multi-denominational service.

Yes, it was incredibly gratifying to stand on stage and share the stories of my career and family. But the greatest feeling was seeing my dear friend Terri sitting in one of the dimly lit back rows.

She’d made the drive from Tulsa for the occasion, and it was the first time we’d been in the same room in many years.

After the program, we sat and downloaded two decades of our life's histories. She is very happily married with children and teaches at a Christian school. She believes in and loves the Lord very much. It made me smile to know some things don't change.

I took the long overdue opportunity to thank her for her friendship and for her steady influence in my life years ago when I most needed it. I told her how grateful I was that heaven intersected our lives a lifetime ago.

I shared a similar message with Rusty. I knew then and I still believe that our intersection was no accident.

The three of us said farewell and laughed about the good fortune that brought us together that night. Though we said goodbye on a cold night in winter, I still think in April how heaven's hand made it all possible.

In 1987, I needed a friend who would take my mind off my earthly pain and remind me that even in my gray lonely hours, I am never really alone.

In 2011, I needed a friend who would remind me that the long trips, late nights and distance from my family are worth it. And that even in my gray lonely hours, I am never really alone.

What a miracle that God knows what we need, when we need it and the lessons we stand to learn.

He is the master architect, the one who sees our lives and creates the most divine intersections between time and people.

I’m thankful for one old friend, one new friend and one celestial reminder that the interplay between heaven and earth is real. Who would have guessed that a road paved in 1987 would find its intersection in Cleveland, Okla., in 2011?

Only him: the master architect of my life.

And of yours.

Jason F. Wright is a New York Times best-selling author of eight books, including "Christmas Jars," "The Wednesday Letters" and "The Wedding Letters." He can be reached at [email protected] or www.jasonfwright.com.