Sunday, February 05, 2006

Fruitful and Arid Times with Providence

I have been thinking a lot about my last post. Bruce Wilkerson, by all accounts, is going through a deep dry spell, not having God bless his efforts in Africa, at least in the anticipated way. During much of his ministry he has seen the Holy Spirit move mightily in changing lives and bringing marvelous changes. How can that compare to the Providence of God? This reflecting turned inward as I contemplate the way God has deigned to work in lives around me. I support a missionary in the darkest Africa, who is serving a mostly willful and disobedient people, unwilling to come to the Light. She does see some response, but the work seems to be all uphill. What a marvelously hard work she has been called to!
But we see some missionaries who are called to great harvests. I recently read a biography on George Whitefield, and a fine work it is. As I read the book I realized that I may owe my very own salvation to the work that God did with early Americans through George some 200 years ago. What a marvelous thing the work of the Spirit is such that “no man knoweth whence it cometh and whither it goeth.” My question is why is it that some are called in the Providence of God to relatively lackluster ministries, while others shine like a city on a hill?
In my own life my wife and I saw in an all-too-brief-time a couple of hundred people come to salvation through Jesus Christ. Yet I am 53 years old now, and many of those years of my life have been bereft of much fruit. Why is it that God worked so wonderfully those first years, and not as much later on?
An introspective soul might blame himself; on many occasions I have certainly done that. But when my life is carefully self-examined before God, I am left only with the Providence of God. Why is the Providence of God thus? Why is it not something else which I would prefer?
I think the last question has to do finding the key to my question. If God’s Providence were what I wanted it to be it would not be God’s at all—it would be my providence. I may not be sure of much in this twisty turning wicked world, but at least I am sure of this: the world is a better place for it not being my Providence. And that is perhaps the only answer we get when we ask God why. It is his immutable sovereign purpose that is working its way out, whether we will or no, and it is in that knowledge we find our refuge. Even so, come Lord Jesus.

4 comments:

David said...

Mr. D,
I've thought about those men, George Whitefield and the Wesleys. They were powerful men of the Bible. In a short period their revival resulted in a 400,000 member cult (then), denomination (now). What I've gathered is that they held out to the people truth and grace. And they held up Christ, the author of balancing truth and grace. While every other preacher had lost the first love and thus had no faith in God's grace, Whitefield and the Wesleys had had a personal revelation of God's justice and grace. That's what we need. That's what the people need. Sinners needed it in colonial America and they need it today. Nothing has changed too much.

As we come to know Jesus better and better we will be more effective in His work. And He knows how to convict us to realize a greater need so that He can use us, if that's what we want. Conviction is like an engine that brings a train of many blessings with it. But we must go to where the train comes through and get in between the tracks and wait and pray for God to send the train. The train rarely comes to us without us having to go to where it passes through.

I don't mean to be preaching. I'm just rambling. Sorry. I didn't mean to insult your intelligence. But I see a time coming when the Holy Spirit will be poured out on all flesh, as the promise said. The apostles experienced the former rain, but the latter rain will be much more abundant. It is how the gospel will be preached to all the world before Jesus comes.

And, yes as you said, we live in amazing times! If faithful, this is the best time we could ever live in. We're going to see some very exciting things!

Mr. D said...

David,
You neither come across as too preachy nor insulting to me. I find you careful to show grace, and I do appreciate your insightful comments. Sometimes I forget about the last evangelism, but I have a father (83)who is not yet a believer, and I find myself thinking about him should he find his four sons and wives suddenly missing. Not only will that bring him to his knees, but probably millions of others as well. Your comment is well taken and putting me in a reflective mood. Thanks.
Pat

David said...

I'm glad to hear you have so many believing brothers and their families. I have one believing brother out of 6 of us kids. The others are atheists (as far as I know). I say that parenthetically because people don't always say what is deep down in the heart.

But you must enjoy a special fellowship with your enlarged family that many people don't have. God is good.

Mr. D said...

David,
I was the first in my family to accept Christ in 1972. I was privileged to lead two of my brothers to Christ shortly thereafter. Perhaps we all owe that to some godly neighbors who cared enough to take 3 little boys to Sunday School, and who, I am sure prayed for us. The Spirit moves where he will. God is good.
I will pray for your family.