Picture an eight-year-old boy in school. The last bell rings and the children are dismissed to their respective homes. The parents commence to arrive and pick up their precious sons and daughters, yet all but one is picked up. The boy, frustrated and visibly worried, starts his trip home by foot. Having never done this before, he has no idea which way home is since he had always traveled there by car. Afraid and adrift, the boy walks on, taking turns wherever he deems best. After walking for 25 minutes, the surrounding landscape begins to look familiar, and the kid’s hopes are lifted. A few steps later he stands before his front door and knocks. Wide-eyed, his mother receives him in her arms, surprised by the fact that she forgot to pick his son from school, but baffled that the little boy had found his way home all by himself.
What just happened in the previous story? How did the boy arrive home by himself? Most people in today’s culture would simply deem it as “luck,” or “fortune.” Others would attribute it to “karma,” and a few people would just regard it as a coincidence. Despite all the ideas that might float around regarding the source of these incidents, there is one that rises aloft them all. The providence of Almighty God.
Two hundred year before God the Son took on humanity, there were two developing schools of thought. One was called “Epicureanism,” and the other “Stoicism.” These enlightened and ascetic teachers believed and taught much in common. Epicureanism was basically a sophisticated form of Hedonism. Epicurus, its founder, did not believe that pleasure is self-indulging participation in pleasure, but rather to live a self-controlled lifestyle. For Epicurus, the most desirable thing was to live in quietness, retirement, and peace. This was a non-religious philosophy. They still believed in the existence of gods, but they were not interested in human affairs, nor would they hold anyone accountable after death, for there was no afterlife.
Stoicism was founded by three Greek philosophers. Zeno, Cleanthes, and Crhryssipus. They defined everything as matter, even the soul. To them, our essence was just a highly refined fire. Stoics referred to their god as “fate, providence, and reason.” Their pagan deity was just not really into human beings.
This, however, is not the God of the Bible, the only true God. Not only did God create the heavens and earth and everything that is in them, He also sustains His creation (Hebrews 1:3) and is intimately involved in it (Psalm 104:14). God is not only transcendental, but also immanent. He is far above every one of us, and far beyond our most intellectual thoughts, yet He is close, tenderhearted to His children. He is kind and attentive, a very present help in trouble. Though our feelings and our thoughts may deceive and betray us, God’s presence remains close-by.
Yahweh directs every single moment of creation since the time of its inception. God didn’t just wind up a clock and left it running. “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases (Psalm 115:3).” God upholds and drives His creation as He well pleases. He sets kings in places and presidents over governments. He makes the grass grow and the flower fade. He whirls the waters and calms the winds. He thunders across the skies and makes the rain water the earth. His gaze makes the earth quake, and His hand holds it in place. He lifts the sun to lighten the earth and He sets the stars in the night sky. He feeds the massive whales as well as the newborn sparrow. “You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me (Psalm 139:2-5).”
We might believe at times that things are out of control, even that the world is going to end, and the blame will fall on leaders playing with nuclear weapons. Even us Christians can fall into this mindset at times and forget who the great Director over this theater is. He not only has command over the play itself, but He wrote the script as well. There are ultimately no accidents in the world, no karma that plays against us, no luck that influences an outcome, no chance that ever produced anything, and no rulers who took the wrong chair over a nation. Everything is going according to the script, including the little boy who made it home from school.
“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps (Proverbs 16:9).”
Written by Paul Tkaczuk, @reformed.wretch