April 10th, 2011 by Dale Fincher
God’s providence is everywhere and, most of the time, hardly seen. The great Scriptwriter of the play sees far and wide, into the future and with perfect access to the past. Just as the Author of a book views what is coming long before the characters encounter it, so God sees the nuances of human choices and how they play into His story of His kingdom.
We rarely see prevented calamities, because we rarely see their potential rise. These are the scientifically undetectable hands of God at work. He prevents the storm from raging the seaman, so that the seaman may safely return to his family. He prevents the scorching draught, so that the farmer may have crops at harvest. Even our little experiences play into the providence of God. Perhaps He prevented our catching the green light to protect us from the reckless driver at the next signal. Perhaps He prevented our choosing the fastest line at the grocers to delay our hurriedness. That three minute delay may allow us to meet an old friend or encourage a disheartened neighbor.
We do not see these providences simply because our perspective sits on the wrong side of the page. We are in the story, as players in a play, and remember only parts of the pages before, and can hardly see the pages beyond. We do not know the Scriptwriter’s work, except the portion He chooses to reveal. His thoughts are higher than ours, among other reasons, simply because they are above the page.
Several days before Halloween each year, my wife and I capture our part-Siamese cat because he had the unfortunate breeding of being birthed completely black. His name is Congo. Because of the season, we keep Congo indoors to prevent possible misfortunes that often accompany the superstitions of the holiday.
Congo has no idea why the cat-door has been locked. He perches on the couch and looks longingly at the wide world beyond the window. You can almost hear the silent protesting over the appalling fact that he has been forced to use the uncivilized litter-box. He meows after his white and gray brother because his sibling does not share the confinement. Yet as soon as Halloween concludes, Congo darts zealously into the wild world lost to him for four days.
I can imagine, if Congo had an inner monologue, what it would sound like. “These humans are mysterious. They pen me up indoors for more days that I can count. I did not go to the vet. I did not take any special medicines. I saw no dangerous coyotes outside the window, though I did see my brother scamper past a couple of times in search of mice. Those days were a waste of time for my masters as I could not catch the vermin for them. And, for obvious reasons, they were a waste of time for me.”
Little did Congo know the potential dangers that awaited him. He did not know the time of the year. He hardly knew the warnings produced by animal shelters for pet owners to protect their felines. All he knew were dull days of prevented fun and activity in the neighborhood.
This metaphor is a gift to me to remember that God is always behind the scenes preventing, allowing, and acting in the world for the good of His kingdom. No wonder Paul admonishes, “Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain” (Phil 2:14-16).
Our grumbling is often, from God’s perspective, a resistance to trust His flawless character and His infinite wisdom. Our complaining against even the most trivial of inconveniences in life sounds as silly as the questioning of my cat or as peculiar as a player protesting the author of a play. Yet when we trust that our obedience falls into line with God’s work in the world, it brings goodness both to our lives and to our neighbors’. And we can celebrate His invisible hand that lavishly moves on our behalf, even sometimes without the evidence.