PROVIDENCE - Week of August 28th

By Judy Nichols

August 28, 2016


    Providence is a word we don’t hear much any more. It refers to God’s ordering of circumstances in advance so that His plan may be carried out. A Bible story that clearly demonstrates this is Abraham’s sending his servant back to his family’s hometown to get a bride for his son Isaac.

    It’s a long journey – several weeks traveling by camel – and as the servant approaches the well outside the town, he prays a specific request which, if God will answer it, will help him identify the woman he is searching for.

    Some would call it coincidence but I prefer the word providence, that at that very moment, before the servant has even finished his prayer, Rebekah shows up at the well to draw water. And not only this, but she answers his inquiry in exactly the words he had asked to hear. That God would have Rebekah go to the well at that precise moment and say the very words the servant had asked for is more than coincidence. God’s planning and preparation are clearly seen.

    How often do we go through life missing the evidence of God’s providence? We live our lives as though everything that happens is simply random happenstance. But if we believe God is who He says He is – the all-knowing Sovereign of all things – then we should marvel at His strategic organization of all our circumstances.

    Case in point: There was a man who lived in Mansfield and there was a young lady who lived sixty miles away in Columbus. They had met but not developed much in the way of a friendship. The man was definitely interested in the lady and asked her out a few times, with little success. So he prayed. Unbeknownst to him, the head of the ministry center where he worked was sensing a call to another location. Not wanting to be without a secretary, this man invited the young lady to move to Mansfield to fill the position his secretary would soon be vacating. Coincidence? I think not.

    Our human nature recoils at the thought that God has everything planned out. It might appear we are mere pawns, while we would much prefer to think we are the ones in control. Without addressing the issue of predestination versus free will, I will just say that God’s providence, if we are looking for it, gives us great cause for gratitude. And if we are looking for it in advance, it can guide our prayers.

    It’s never serendipity; there is no such thing as the luck of the draw. Coincidences don’t just happen. Jesus was echoing His Father when he said, "I go to prepare a place for you" (John 14:2). God created the earth for mankind and He "determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation" (Acts 17:26). When we recognize God’s activity in our circumstances, whether good or ill, we can echo David’s claim, "The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me" (Psalm 16 6).

© Judy Nichols 2016

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