When I was young, I used to be much more introspective than I am now. I would try to really get to the bottom of issues in my life… Rummaging and searching…I don’t do very much of that anymore. Why? Because, honestly, it wasn’t very helpful. A sinner is composed of so many confusing layers of unsettling ‘stuff.’ There is just not much benefit in rooting around in it. I have determined that anything God wants me to work on he can show me as I expose myself to the light of his word. In the meantime, I rest in the beauty of who he is.
I have come to much the same conclusion regarding his providence. I used to think much of what happened in my life was sin-based in one way or another. Result of sin. Discipline to deliver me from sin. And so on. Obviously, there can be times when providence is geared that way. But I have another take on it now.
I have come to realize that God truly does own me. He owns me by creation and he double-owns me by re-creation. So I have come to understand one thing clearly. All the while I am trying to sail my little bark of a life in one direction I come up against a different will. And He is often trying to sail it in quite another. As simple as that.
How to understand this? Well, obviously he is God. But let’s try to break that down just a little. I imagine much of providence has to do with ‘vocational training’. I am convinced God is specifically fitting and equipping us for the very particular positions he has for us to fulfil in the new heavens and the new earth. I am not an unequivocal C.S. Lewis fan but he certainly did have brilliant insights. He said somewhere (I sound like the author of Hebrews!) that God doesn’t so much create an eternal position for a man, as a man to fit the eternal position. Again, this isn’t either/or but I think, on the whole, that makes sense. So, many of the trials and tribulations of life are geared toward that all-consuming purpose of our all-consuming God.
It is so beautiful and restful to know that the purposes of providence are settled and vast. They don’t rest on my little shoulders, or the vicissitudes of my actions and character. Rather, they are God’s determined actions to equip me for the very goal of my creation. Generically I was created to glorify God. But I will do it in an individualized way that demands individualized preparation.
Do I understand my specific purpose? Of course not. So that wraps the whole process in some mystery, and even confusion. But I walk day-by-day with this God remembering that, “God guides a man’s steps. How then can he understand his own way?”
And I think of the beautiful words, “Fear not little flock, for it is the Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” And, specifically, he is going to give me my own little area of the kingdom in which to serve him. He knows the hows, whats and whys of that. I don’t. But more and more I trust the process, and the God of the process.