Posts Tagged ‘providence’
“We’re in trouble,” he said. “Hurry and put on your life jackets.”
. . .
We are not dealing with God as though He were a machine. He is personal, and as we pray He does not respond mechanically, but as the Personal-Infinite God. The point is that He is there. And He can, and does, act into the universe He has made.
Francis Schaeffer, speaking in chapel, Wheaton College, the fall of 1968.
Read the whole story of God’s gracious intervention here.
Charles Spurgeon on God’s providence:
I believe that every particle of dust that dances in the sunbeam does not move an atom more or less than God wishes—that every particle of spray that dashes against the steamboat has its orbit as well as the sun in the heavens—that the chaff from the hand of the winnower is steered as the stars in their courses. The creeping of an aphis over the rosebud is as much fixed as the march of the devastating pestilence—the fall of sere leaves from a poplar is as fully ordained as the tumbling of an avalanche. He that believes in a God must believe this truth. There is no standing-point between this and atheism. There is no half way between a mighty God that worketh all things by the sovereign counsel of his will and no God at all. A God that cannot do as he pleases—a God whose will is frustrated, is not a God, and cannot be a God. I could not believe in such a God as that.
Thanks to JT for the reminder.
Yesterday started in humbling fashion. As some of you will know, I was struck down with a violent virus a few weeks ago now. Said virus left me weak as a kitten and unable to exercise, with the result that I am now marginally less weak and out of shape to boot. After a little light jogging and cycling, the time had come to go back to the early morning workouts with a few friends.
In my absence, our base of operations had shifted to another, more local park. We started with the usual runs and sprints and pyramid drills of sit-ups and press-ups, and that was painful enough, prompting more than a few giggles from my uberfit friends.
But then we moved on to the new element. Apparently, this park is the only one for miles around with a parkour training environment (for more on the insanity of free running, see something like this). Now, there are many things at which I am not good, but rarely do I find something at which I am so natively and staggeringly inept as parkour. I was built for rugby, you see, and all this whip-thin and whippet-supple stuff passed me by.
There were many low points. There were the chin lifts when a man who once claimed to be my friend asked why I was wearing the face of a constipated monkey. There were other lifts I was supposed to be doing, when I ended up dangling helplessly. Working back and forth hanging underneath a series of rungs, I asked how many would be a good number.
“Chris managed six,” said Carl, “And I have done three.” I had a go, and thought my two was pretty impressive.
“Chris can go across the whole set of rungs and back six times,” explained Carl. “You managed two single rungs.”
We did some practice leaps over some kind of fence apparatus. I now have parkour shin, the result of landing on said shin on top of the fence in mid-leap. I barely spared myself landing on a far more painful part of the anatomy. At one point, required to hurtle up a ramp and leap from the top, I backed off . . . and off . . . and off.
“Where’s he going?” asked Chris.
“It’s alright,” said Carl, “I think it’s his run-up.”
Needless to say, this rather spoiled my focus.
Anyway, determined to accomplish something of value, I was again dangling off something, by now bruised and bleeding, and feeling my wedding ring cutting into my finger. I took it off and placed it with my other valuables in the bag, and eventually the painful hour was over.
I headed home, glad to be back in the swing of things, but wishing I could swing and not merely hang. As I headed to the front door, crossing the fruitful sward, I pulled my keys from my bag and heard a little ping. It sounded as if I might have dropped something, but I kept moving. When I got in and sorted myself out, I realised that I was not wearing my ring. Searching through the valuables, I realised what that little ping had been. It was the sound of my keys catching on the ring and catapulting them into the grass as I walked to the door.
Searching ensued. I was due in London at 1030, so there wasn’t much time. Seeking to behave calmly, I gave myself the customary loofahing and donned the appointed garments. I headed back out with the help of Thing One and a rake and some urgent and brief prayers. We began to search. I combed the grass. I began wondering how much metal detectors cost. Thing One searched with his boy rake, chopping and flinging in such a way that if he came anywhere near the ring it would probably disappear into the middle distance at some velocity. The tension began to mount. My wife could see I was grieved, and was trying to be supportive. I would soon need to leave. Thing Two wandered out to watch the fun, carrying a breakfast-type snack of mini-weetajobbies of indeterminate brand. He gazed at me in some fascination as I continued to scrutinize the ground (as, probably, did many of the neighbours). He got closer. As usual when he is meant to be eating but has found something else to entertain, the lip of the bowl began to droop at more of a pouring angle. Pretty soon he would begin to shed weetajobbies. I lunged for the bowl but it was too late, and a couple of the little blighters succumbed to the irresistible pull of gravity. I opened my mouth to suggest that such clumsiness was unhelpful and stooped to pick up the lost breakfast.
There, lying precisely between the two fallen weetajobbies, was the lost ring. I scooped up them and Thing Two with some joy, kissed a cheerful goodbye to the wife, Things One and Two and the newborn Thing, and leapt into the vehicle to speed Londonwards in order to deliver a lecture on John Bunyan to one hundred Dutch students. On my finger – a sore and bruised but altogether happier and properly clad finger – was my wedding ring.
Such are the kindnesses of God, even in the dropping of breakfast cereal.
This is a hard book to read. It is not the occasional profanity that makes it so, so much as the searing – sometimes very ugly – honesty and gripping profundity. The author, as far as I know not herself a believer, tells the story of Louis Zamperini, a wild kid with an unbroken spirit and a knack for finding trouble, to a teenager discovering a gift for distance running that carried him to the Olympics (he seemed destined to be the first man to break the four minute mile until WWII intervened), to a highly-skilled bombardier in a B-24 Liberator over the Pacific in the war against Japan, to a castaway adrift on a raft in a shark-infested ocean for 47 days, to a brutalised POW in a series of Japanese concentration camps, to an apparently free man chained to his hatred, to an alcoholic who could not break free of his guilt and anger. Zamperini was finally broken, but it was grace that broke him, and made him truly whole. He heard – very unwillingly at first – Billy Graham preach, and Christ broke in upon his untamed spirit and emptied him of self before granting him a strength that he had never had before. Very skilfully and engagingly written, you will find your pulse rising and falling with the twists and turns of the story; you might suck in your breath, hold your head in your hands, clench your fists, and weep tears as you read. The book showcases the heights and depths of the human spirit, prompting us both to consider that we are fearfully and wonderfully made and that we are fearfully and deeply depraved. For those with eyes to see, the story is a stunning study in providence. That superintending wisdom and power preserves a gifted, vigorous, self-reliant rebel, guiding him slowly but surely to the cross of Jesus Christ, and changes him into a gifted, vigorous, Christ-reliant servant who preaches the gospel to his once-torturers and sets out to find others who, like himself, need the best of friends and a true Saviour. A treat especially for those who appreciate stirring biography and (perhaps mainly military) history, elements of this telling might take it outside the orbit of some. Nevertheless, read and recommended with that awareness, I believe that this is a story worth reading, for it ultimately reveals a God worth praising.
Are you and I afraid to give of our substance to those in need, to invest money, time and energy in the needy? Do we feel that it is foolish, risky, or pointless? Here is an answer from Jonathan Edwards to such unfounded fears:
When men give to the needy, they do as it were sow seed for a crop. When men sow their seed, they seem to throw it away. Yet they do not look upon it as thrown away because, though they expect not the same again, yet they expect much more as the fruit of it. And if it be not certain that they shall have a crop, yet they are willing to run the venture of it; for that is the ordinary way wherein men obtain increase. So it is when persons give to the poor. Though the promises of gaining thereby, in our outward circumstances, perhaps are not absolute; yet it is as much the ordinary consequence of it, as increase is of sowing seed. Giving to the poor is in this respect compared to sowing seed, in Ecc. 11:6, “In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good.” By withholding the hand, the wise man means not giving to the poor (see verse 1, 2). It intimates, that giving to the poor is as likely a way to obtain prosperity and increase, as sowing seed in a field.
The husbandman doth not look upon his seed as lost, but is glad that he has opportunity to sow it. It grieves him not that he has land to be sown, but he rejoices in it. For the like reason we should not be grieved that we find needy people to bestow our charity upon. For this is as much an opportunity to obtain increase as the other.
Some may think this is strange doctrine; and it is to be feared, that not many will so far believe it as to give to the poor with as much cheerfulness as they sow their ground. However, it is the very doctrine of the Word of God, 2 Cor. 9:6, 7, 8, “But this I say, He which soweth sparingly, shall reap also sparingly: and he which soweth bountifully, shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound towards you; that ye always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.”
It is easy with God to make up to men what they give in charity. Many but little consider how their prosperity or ill success in their outward affairs depends upon Providence. There are a thousand turns of Providence, to which their affairs are liable, whereby God may either add to their outward substance, or diminish from it, a great deal more than they are ordinarily called to give to their neighbors. How easy is it with God to diminish what they possess by sickness in their families, by drought, or frost, or mildew, or vermin; by unfortunate accidents, by entanglements in their affairs, or disappointments in their business! And how easy is it with God to increase their substance, by suitable seasons, or by health and strength; by giving them fair opportunities for promoting their interest in their dealings with men; by conducting them in his providence, so that they attain their designs; and by innumerable other ways which might be mentioned! How often is it, that only one act of providence in a man’s affairs either adds to his estate, or diminishes from it, more than he would need to give to the poor in a whole year.
God hath told us that this is the way to have his blessing attending our affairs. Thus, in the text, Deu. 15:10, “Thou shalt surely give him, and thine heart shall not be grieved when thou givest unto him; because that for this thing the Lord thy God shall bless thee in all thy works, and all that thou puttest thine hand unto.” And Pro. 22:9, “He that hath a bountiful eye, shall be blessed.” It is a remarkable evidence how little many men realize the things of religion, whatever they pretend; how little they realize that the Scripture is the Word of God, or if it be, that he speaks true; that notwithstanding all the promises made in the Scripture to bounty to the poor, yet they are so backward to this duty, and are so afraid to trust God with a little of their estates. Observation may confirm the same thing which the Word of God teaches on this head. God, in his providence, generally smiles upon and prospers those men who are of a liberal, charitable, bountiful spirit.
From Jonathan Edwards on Christian Charity
The peace and productivity of life have been shattered once more by another computer crash. After nearly two happy days of apparently trouble-free computing, the whole thing died this morning. All normal efforts to restart produce a splendid variety of error messages, and we are so far narrowing it down to ‘a driver issue’. How sweet. Anyway, the long and short of it is that this is puppy is not going to play ball in the foreseeable future, so I am back to the borrowed laptop and hoping that I might at least be able to get the main computer up and running, even if I cannot get online. While disappointed, I am not overwhelmingly frustrated (although I am sure that I will be at times). The deacons here have told me to do what needs to be done to get going as soon as possible, which is exceedingly helpful, but we are wondering if that might mean starting over. Until the Christian technician who provides these things can make time to get here, I will be somewhat limited. As before, it looks as if the (now almost entirely backed-up) data is safe, which is a mercy. There are no indications of any viruses or anything, which is also good news. It is now just a question of getting on with those things with which I can get on. Again, as you have a moment, your prayers for the swift and complete resolution of these difficulties would be appreciated.
You know I said I believe in entropy?
Well, the car is in the garage with the cylinder head gasket keeping it off the road. And the mechanic who is always so efficient and helpful went down with a serious health problem the day I took it in and is on very light duties.
The computer screen has just malfunctioned and I am helpfully informed that, under warranty, I will get a replacement in no less than five days. The fact that I rely on the computer for my work changes things not a jot. So I am writing this from my father’s house; please expect little in the way of online labour for a few days.
I am going home from this borrowed computer, joyfully anticipating the plumes of smoke I am likely to see as the house returns to dust and ashes.
Then, I looked in the mirror again this morning. That news gets no better.
And, God is in his heaven, and he is my Father and I am his child, and all this is his perfect and righteous plan, and I lack nothing truly needful, and I am learning to be content.