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Vol.  9  No. 8 August 2007  Page 11
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Louis Rushmore

Open Door

By Louis Rushmore, Editor

    From the human vantage point, the providence of God is a mysterious operation of the Divine Sovereign of the universe. Whereas miracles were clearly visible demonstrations of Divine power (Mark 16:20; Acts 4:16), the providence of God is invisible to the human eye and works behind the scenes (Rom. 8:28; Gen. 50:20). How, then, can we identify the providence of God in our lives? How can we be sure that we are not either fighting against God (Acts 5:39) or attempting to help God out in a way that does not correspond to the providence of God (Gen. 15:2-3; 16:1-4). Confusion and self-doubt buffet Christians today who truly desire to do the will of God and who are conscious of the providence of God, but who are not sure that they can correctly interact with the unfolding providence of God in their lives. One may even ponder if God’s providence is relative to his or her life, the providence of God perhaps being directed by our Divine Sovereign elsewhere. “After all, the universe doesn’t revolve around insignificant me,” one might muse.

    Even being a miraculously endowed Christian in the first century was no guarantee that one could easily ascertain the providence of God in one’s life. For instance, the apostle Paul, indisputably one of the most prolific miracle workers in the era of miracles (Acts 19:11-12; 2 Cor. 12:12), was unsure about the unfolding of God’s providence in his evangelistic ministry (Acts 16:6-10). On his second extended missionary endeavor, the apostle Paul and his traveling companions had been laboring in the Gospel in Asia Minor. At one point, the Holy Spirit had forbidden them from going either of two directions or working any longer at that time in Asia Minor. The missionary team had come from the east; the only direction from which they did not come and from which they were not forbidden by the Spirit of God was to proceed east, toward Europe.

    Of course, the clincher for the apostle Paul was the miraculous night vision he received (Acts 16:9-10). Nevertheless, the apostle and his partners in evangelism inferred that God desired them to preach the Gospel next in Europe. Borrowing a principle from Paul’s first missionary journey, through God’s providence, our Divine Sovereign “opened the door of faith unto” (in that case) “the Gentiles” (Acts 14:27). The providence of God opened a door of opportunity for evangelism for Paul and his co-laborers in the Gospel.

    What does this mean to us? What can we discern from these instances about the providence of God in our lives? Given that the invisible providence of God is no clearer or obvious than it is, how ought the child of God today to conduct himself respecting the possible unfolding providence of God in his life? First, Christians must acknowledge the existence of the providence of God (Rom. 8:28). Second, the child of God must anticipate the possibility that God’s providence may unfold in his life (Gen. 50:20). Third, the Christians must endeavor to be all that God wants them to be, in whatever capacities they occupy (e.g., elder, deacon, minister, teacher, soul winner, husband, wife, offspring, sibling, employee, employer, etc.) (Col. 3:23). Fourth, every child of God who has confidence in the providence of God needs to look for the open door of opportunity (i.e., test the waters, trial and error, strive to be an ever more useful servant of God) (Titus 2:14; 1 Cor. 15:58).

    The divine power behind the providence of God is no less powerful than the divine power by which miracles occurred, including the creation and maintenance of the universe and all that is in it (Col. 1:16-17). May we prayerfully test for the providence of God (prod the life circumstances everywhere about us for opportunities to serve), so that the powerful providence of God that may unfold in our very midst is not wasted on us. The providence of God is a terrible thing to waste!
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