Wednesday, April 10, 2013

God's Providence

Dear Friends,

Last Saturday I finished writing my sermon at 1:30, got up to stretch and went outside to get my mail. As I walked down my front steps toward the gate, I  knew that a very large tree branch was going to fall. In a moment I’ll tell you why I knew that, but at the time, I just knew it would be a heavy one that could damage anything it fell on. I moved my SUV out from under the olive trees to a safe place in my driveway. I walked out to my mailbox, got the mail and came right back inside. I sat down in my reading chair with a magazine and immediately heard a loud “crack” and a “whoosh.” A very large heavy branch had just broken off the  olive tree next to the mailbox and  fallen exactly where I had been standing just sixty seconds before. Olive trees produce dense, heavy wood. The limb that came down next to the mail-box weighed hundreds of pounds.

The knowledge that a large branch was going to fall was a prophetic revelation. Prophecy is a gift of God given by the Holy Spirit and means to “declare on behalf of” or to “foretell or perceive unseen things or events in the future.” (FYI: Fortunetellers use  “clairvoyance” which imitates prophecy and is given to a person by demonic spirits). While I’ve never considered myself to have the “spiritual gift” of prophecy, God has often given me prophetic revelations about people or situations.  

But if God was already going to orchestrate this so that I would be safe and protected, why did He need to reveal to me beforehand that a branch was going to fall? I believe He used this revelation to  remind me of His presence and His Providence. He knows how easy it is for us to experience a narrow escape from a potentially dangerous or difficult situation and think, “Whew! Was I lucky!” “How fortunate I was!” when of course luck and good fortune had nothing to do with it. By reminding me of His Providence, He showed me that He was right there. The branch had rotted and had structurally failed internally. Any moment it would fall. I had walked out to stand directly under it. And God had everything under control.

God’s Providence is one area in which Christians and the contemporary worldview part company. Providence means that God has not abandoned the world that He created but works within His creation to manage all things. The world at large, even if they acknowledge God to have been the world’s Creator, think that God does not now intervene in human affairs. They think that miracles do not happen, prayers are not answered and things just happen as a result of circumstance and coincidence.

But the Bible is filled with the promise of God’s Providence. God has been described as a “holy, benevolent, wise and omnipotent Being who exercises sovereign control over all His creation.”

God is in control over your life.(1 Sam 2:7-8) He cares for you and watches over you. (Ps 139:14-16) He provides protection for the righteous. (Ps 4:8, Rom 8:28) He supplies the needs and wants of His people. (Matt 6:26, Phil 4:19. 1 Tim 6:17) He provides answer to our prayers. (1 John 5:14-15) All that we have comes from Him. (1 Chr 29:12) God rewards the righteous (Ps 73:24) and punishes the impenitent. (Ps 1:6) And, God may give us a well-deserved smack-down when we think we’re in control and deny God’s Providence! (Dan 4:30-31)

And sometimes He drops a tree branch where you were just standing and tells you, “Don’t you fret none about your life, Bubba. That was just a little demonstration to show you that I AM in control...”  Amen?