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Providence of God
I Have No Idea!

Maybe this never happens to you, but sometimes life confuses me. Just when I think I've figured life out, I get thrown a curve ball (and I never could hit a curve ball). Now, I understand the path of life in the grand scheme of things. Solomon wrote, "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man." (Ecclesiastes 12:13). Nothing is more important in life than following God faithfully. Still, it's those surprises that pop up now and again that lead to the confusion. I have tried figuring them out. I have tried defining them in relation to God's providential care for me. I just can't seem to wrap my mind around life's circumstances sometimes though.

The question now is, "Do we have to understand everything that happens to us in this life?" My analytical mind says, "Absolutely!", but my common sense and knowledge of God's Word says, "No way and, by the way, stop trying." If we ever do grasp why things happen in our lives, it will generally occur a long time after the actual events themselves. The solution to coming to grips with life's nuances is to recognize the existence of God's providence (read the book of Esther for proof). Unfortunately (at least to our inquiring minds), God's providence is typically best seen in retrospect rather than in real time. In other words, if we ever do figure out why certain things happened to us, we won't come to our conclusions until later in life, sometimes much later.

There is a principle regarding life and God’s activity in our lives that needs to be stated clearly here. Paul wrote, “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!” (Romans 11:33). Through the prophet Isaiah, the Lord expressed the same sentiment in this manner: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9). The principle, one that is plainly expressed in these two passages, is, “Dear Human: You are not God, so stop trying to act like you are!” That may sound rather flippant but it’s not meant to be. It’s just that we need to spend less time trying to make up God’s mind for Him and spend more time doing those things that He has revealed in His Word for us to do (Deuteronomy 29:29). We need to devote less energy to trying to solve the mysteries of our lives and give more of our hearts, minds and souls to simply obeying God.

For several years I was involved with a direct sales company. People would sign up as distributors with hopes and dreams of becoming financially independent. Often I would hear people say, "God led me to this company." They were going to get rich and they were certain God had guaranteed it with their introduction to that business. Nearly as often, merely a few months later, these same people would leave the company without having made a penny, their dreams of success in that business shattered. They had it all figured out. This was God's plan for them. What happened? Maybe their involvement was indeed in God’s plan, but maybe His plan didn’t include them getting rich. Maybe He was pointing them in another direction by helping them eliminate a company that was really not right for them.

Batsell Barrett Baxter’s autobiography is entitled, "Every Life a Plan of God." That’s exactly what our lives are, plans of God. This is not to advocate predestination, for each of us still has the power to choose (Deuteronomy 30:15ff). God does not force us to go in a certain direction, but by His providence He gives us options. God’s ultimate plan is for each of us to be in heaven (II Peter 3:9). There is only one way there (Matthew 7:13-14) but that way is narrow and often difficult to travel. That way is often bumpy, curvy and hazardous (II Timothy 3:12) and filled with unexpected potholes.

So how do we deal with life and all that it throws at us? First of all, we should settle down, stop trying to play God and just put His will first. Secondly, we should stop trying to tell God what His will is. We are guilty of doing this when we decide the way WE want things to be and then try to fit the square peg of God’s will into that round hole. Finally, we should learn to trust God, realizing that He does care for us and that He will see us through life’s surprises.

Go ahead and ask me about things that happen in my life. Then ask me why I think they happened that way. If I have any sense at all, I’ll reply, “I have no idea!” and then I’ll keep on serving the Lord according to His Word. Hopefully you will do the same.

Mike Gifford

2462 Oak Bluff Drive
Dacula, GA 30019

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