Do you ever go through a day and wonder what you did, what actually happened? I used to blame it on baby brain fog but my children are 4 and 6 now so I think that excuse is wearing thin. Some days just go by so quietly don’t they. I wonder whether it has something to do with a tendency to look at things in isolation, in disjointed pieces, fixating on the detail in front without being aware of what else is going on.
Our lives from our perspective can feel disjointed, random, mundane, separate moments of inconsequence and insignificance. Whether it’s the conversations we have in the playground, the unexpected changes to our plans, the food shop, the time we get the train to work, days we’re ill and can’t go to work, we can go through these and not consider the relation that one isolated incident has to any other.
But God’s perspective is vastly different. He looks at all things at once, and not only sees perfectly the relation that one thing has to another, but perfectly plans them too, fashioning the links in the chain. He times and places the details of our days that to us pass by often unnoticed or unadmired. His providence gives meaning to the mundane, magnitude to the minutae and mystery to the mystifying (forgive me, my husband is now a preacher and the alliteration is part of the gig apparently!)
God uses the moments described as ‘chance encounters’ to lead to the birth of babies 10 years later. He allows the teenager suffering with eczema to endure that pain so he can in his twenties compassionately care for his sick children, children God will give him by the wife he met by the providence of God, through a mutual friendship that began at aged 6, in a school chosen for those children by their parents who themselves met at a particular moment in time.
When God has ordered a circumstance for the present to be so, there may well be work He will accomplish and bring to bear 10, 20, 30 years from now that depends on his providence of today. One chain may go on to a thousand strong link.
For there is beautiful magnitude in the providence of God
But maybe we can all too painfully identify with the image of God’s providence as links in a chain, but rather than see the intricate links and details, one event bound and tied to another, leading on in a progression of providential care, we see and feel the chains as those of a prisoner. We can feel constrained, trapped, imprisoned in the situation we haven’t asked for, we may not have first hand caused, but the situation that is nevertheless the present link in the chain. What if providence feels like prison?
Well then we start hatching an escape plan.
We wrestle and wrench in an attempt to break this link of providence, to refashion the chain in another way. But while we seek to escape our circumstance, God may be calling us to remain, and to interpret them in light of who He is and His promises to us.
In light of the truth that by His providence, He rules the heavens and the earth, that is power and might extend to every sphere of the world, to every moment in time, to every detail of every day, to the rising and the setting of the sun, to every circumstance and every person, without exception.
Is the Lord calling us to understand Him and His ways better, rather than just go to him for a quick fix, seek from him a short term solution? I may be looking for escape, for deliverance, not realising God is calling me to look up to Him, to my deliverer.
There is always meaning in the providence of God and He means for his children to grow in knowledge and love and awe of Him, as he works in our lives to work change in our hearts. He leads us through times of transition, times of loss, through rich blessing and desperate pain, teaching us all the while who He is, working deeply in our hearts to fashion them after his likeness, renewing us increasingly in His image, sharpening our eyes of faith so we can see more clearly His work in our lives, always for our good and His glory, intricately bound, stronger than irons of a chain.
There is always meaning in the providence of God, but there is also mystery, which means the meaning He is working out through every detail of our lives we may not comprehend, we may not see, we may not agree with.
I am a problem fixer at heart and it’s a serious problem! For, in the heart of every problem fixer, aside from a fear of chaos and a need for order, lies a desire for explanation. We don’t like to be without answers do we? We hear it in a child’s incessant ‘why’s’, in our ‘I wonder whether’, our ‘how abouts’, in our bold verdicts on other’s decisions.
Sometimes our desire for explanation is a beautiful gift of grace from God, using our minds, our imaginations to explore and wonder at his creation, at his ways, at his providence in our own and others’ lives.
Other times our willful wonderings slip into misguided interpretations of events. When looking at God’s ways, when His works in our lives and others bring out the whys, hows, and lead us to ask, ‘what is going on here?’ it can feel like we’re pointlessly searching around in the dark. We’re asking for the light of revelation to shine on this dark situation, for clarity, for perspective, for clear guidance. We ask for sight, and often the sense of blind searching in the dark remains.
No explanation or reason comes to mind. No immediate relief. The decisions remain to be made, the pain is left to be endured. When God’s ways prove unsearchable, his judgements inscrutable, we may be called to remain in the dark, and spend our time less in searching, but in surrender.
Because while there is always meaning in the providence of God, there is also deep mystery.We may still be in the dark when it comes to our lack of clarity on the meaning behind his providence in this situation, but we can still worship in the dark, worship the one who promises the light of Himself, of His presence, promises to shine the light of the knowledge of his glory in the face of Jesus into our hearts.
When I sit in darkness
The Lord is a light to me
The times we sit in darkness, we sit as friends of God, not strangers to him. We sit in darkness with our closest friend who knows us and whose judgments we may not be able to understand or interpret, but whose work in us and for us is of far greater magnitude than we can fathom, has far deeper meaning than we could offer in our explanations, and has a mystery that is worthy to be worshipped.
Our God is a God who works by mysterious providence, whose deliverance for those living in darkness is to send the very light of the world, who set the captives free by sending his Son to die on a cross.
Truly the providence of God is a providence of magnitude, meaning and mystery.