Saturday, October 19, 2013
Providential Creation, Wrightsville Beach, NC
The concept of providence is a belief that God is active in the human journey to fulfill His purposes for the world. Those who read life with a certain kind of faith will recognize divine intervention after it is past. One of my favorite scenes from the classic movie, The Longest Day, about the Normandy invasion that turned the tide in WWII was two flashes from both sides of the war. When queried about the critical outcome of the battle, an allied commander confidently replied that “God is on our side”. Then the scene immediately shifts to the German Third Reich commander who responds to the same question with the same reply. Obviously, one of the two commanders is deadly wrong. I like the response of Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War who famously responded differently, “My concern is not whether God is on our side—my greatest concern is to be on God’s side”.
James Howell writes in his book on The Will of God that God is in control “long term, eventually; big picture, yes. But day in and day out, no, God does not control things that happen, or you and me. At times I do God’s will, but often I do not, and you don’t either. God chooses not to determine everything: Love does not insist on its own way”. We live in a broken world that won’t be restored like our spiritual bodies until the creation of a new earth and a new heaven.
There would seem to be specific situations where God won’t generally interfere. For instance, He won’t change the natural laws of nature which He set in motion. If you build a house in a flood plain or on a beach where house guests and hurricanes visit, you may be on your own. If you build in southern Oklahoma, you’d be advised to add a tornado shelter. He generally won’t violate someone’s free will. So you may be wasting your time if you’re praying for someone to return your infatuation for them. And James Howell observes that in his long ministerial career, most all of the people that were diagnosed with a terminal illness succumbed to it, despite fervent prayers to arrest it. No one escapes the common destiny of mortal men. The hope for all Christians is that prayers for healing are always answered, just not always in this mortal life.
Finally, there are still countless examples of how God has indeed invoked providence throughout the human experience for some divine reason—and we call them miracles!