Confidence in the God of Providence
The ‘unknown’ has always been the source of frustration, what should have been, what could have been or what would have been…etc. We sometimes day-dream “what could have been had I chosen this or that way of life?!” However, God knew exactly, before time as we know it begun, what path we would to take in life and the consequences of those choices. That also meant that he knew what we could have chosen but did not and their consequences. That is why God should be sought after. He created it all. He has purpose for all of the things he created. That’s why we need to trust him in every way. He knows the best for our lives who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father! And His purpose for our lives is not primarily to give us this and that, or to make our lives meaningful, just for our pleasure’s sake. However He works all things so that He conform us to the Image of His Son (Rom 8:26-29). Whatever He does, he does it to that end. The truth is that Yahweh does all things for the fame of his own glorious name, now mediated through the Son He loves.
The God of Providence
Where we were born or from whom we were born was not a mistake. Let’s understand this first. Everything that we were and are, have been ordained for his purposes. We were created to accomplish his good work, as we have part in his end-goal, the renewal of all things. Let’s have confidence in the foreknowledge of God’s Providence.
“From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.”
Confidence in the foreknowledge of Him who is the God of Providence
The biblical word for knowledge does not suggest a mere knowing or informational knowledge.
I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord…I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Paul was not saying “I want to be educated about Christ even to death”. But he was saying that he wants to live out the reality of the cross in union with his Lord in such personal and intimate way. That being said, one can’t know Him apart from learning a great deal about Him. Our knowing Him is mediated in and through the knowledge of the Word, the word about the gospel. Therefore Mind and heart work together. Let’s not separate them.
Which One? Heart or Mind
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:5–9 (ESV))
We live in a time that information is “king”. Reserving a set time to meditate and reflect has been an old art. First there is a need for a thoughtful transformative knowledge of God. The scripture presents that God’s people perished for the lack of knowledge. God also indicted the priests for failing to teach His people and as a result a judgment had fallen on the house of Levi. On the other hand, a thought provoking transformational knowledge is replaced with search engines. We bring the same mind set to our relationship with God. It is possible to sit around Jesus without sitting under him. It is a very common fatal mistake to separate our devotion, the heart, from study, the mind. We rather worship Him through study. Scripture warns us that it is easy to be precise in our understanding of God but miss the very goal of the exercise. The goal of the exercise is to know him and to know him well. The danger is actually two fold. The first one is to walk with the Lord and worship him without much understanding of the whole counsel of God, extremely dangerous. Second, it is possible to know a great deal about God and his relationship with us, without ever knowing him truly or walk with him closely. It is possible to know much about holiness, worship and godliness. Even guide others to walk in them, yet miss the mark altogether. Is it not why Paul cautions us when he says: “But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified”?
How can I discern whether I am truly knowing him or knowing more about him? J. I. Packer offers the following advice. Those who know God have great passion for God, they think his thoughts after him, they have great boldness and they are content in him. Losses or gains, poverty or riches, crosses or thrones, honors or despises matter to them less. Rather these things are equal opportunities for greater glory and knowledge of him.
If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.”