“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received (Ephesians 3:2o-4:1).”
I know there are a lot of times that I personally try to arrange my circumstances, and when things turn out in my favor, I call it a “miracle”. I let out a little information here, tell a friend there, and salvation is in my corner.
Yet, on other occasions the inexplicable happens. Sometimes the series of events are life changing.
For example, I once visited a beach resort the year I graduated from high school with a friend. Our main goal was to have a good time.
However, we decided to go to a gathering of people up the boardwalk somewhere. In this crowd was a group of young men from a Christian group.
A few months later, I was walking on the campus of my university and recognized one of the fellows I had met at this rally at the beach. This led to a several year involvement with this Christian group which radically changed my life.
Numerous times I have been given money out of the blue. It has happened on so many occasions that I cannot remember them all. These monetary provisions were unsolicited.
I have visited places I thought I would never see again. Then, one day, I find myself living and working in them.
Of course, not all of the unexpected happenings have been positive. On several occasions I have been laid off a job or quit before the inevitable occurred. It seems, though, that I have always bounced back rather quickly when this happens.
There is an amazing story in the Bible, recorded in I Samuel 9, involving a young man who suddenly had his whole life change around. This fellow named Saul was just out looking for his father’s donkeys when the totally unexpected occurred.
Out of food and just about out of money, Saul’s servant suggested they go visit a prophet he knew about to see if they could get some help finding the donkeys. Saul checked his wallet and told his servant that couldn’t do so because they didn’t have the funds to present the customary gift to the prophet.
Saul’s servant dug in his pocket and found a little silver. They went looking for the prophet.
When they found him, Saul was astounded at the greeting he got. The prophet, a man named Samuel, began fawning on the young fellow.
Samuel said to Saul:
“Go up ahead of me to the high place, for today you are to eat with me, and in the morning I will send you on your way and will tell you all that is in your heart. As for the donkeys you lost three days ago, do not worry about them; they have been found. And to whom is all the desire of Israel turned, if not to you and your whole family line?” (I Samuel 9:19b,2o)
Samuel was nonplussed. He told Samuel that he wasn’t but a young feller from the least family in the least tribe of all of Israel. How in the world could Samuel be telling him these things.
Samuel treated Saul to a royal dinner. The next morning he told him to send his servant away because he had a message for him from God.
What Saul didn’t know was that God had approached Samuel the day before and forewarned him of the visit. God said to Samuel:
“About this time tomorrow I will send you a man from the land of Benjamin. Anoint him ruler over my people Israel; he will deliver them from the hand of the Philistines. I have looked on my people, for their cry has reached me.” (I Samuel 9:16)
When Saul showed up the next day, God told Samuel, “This is the man I told you about yesterday.” Thus ensued the royal treatment Saul experienced.
What blows my mind about this story is how God arranged everything up to the minute. He had it all worked out.
A critic might say that God only told Samuel what He knew would occur. This cynic would say that God arranged nothing.
However, the Bible reflects this not to be the case. In another example, it tells how God gave Abraham a son at the exact time He had said it would occur (Genesis 21:2). There was a miracle here not only in timing, but in God providing a child to an old woman.
A similar miracle occurred with a woman the Scriptures calls the Shunammite. Elijah told her she would have a son at a certaim time the following year, even though her husband was old and presumably infertile, and it happened (II Kings 4:8-17).
The wise man of Ecclesiastes says that God makes everything beautiful in its time. He also says God sets a time to judge good deeds and bad. And speaking of good and bad, this wise man says that God makes the positive times as well as the negative ones (Ecclesiates 3:11,17; 7:14).
The apostle Paul told the Athenians that Jesus is the governor of our lives. He said to them,
“From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ (Acts 17:26-28).”
Grover Gunn says of God’s divine foreknowledge that its nature is active, not passive. He notes that God doesn’t just have a heads up on the future, but arranges it in detail.
This is beyond my comprehension. How God can work it all out so that His plan is carried out is just incredible to me.
It is also beyond my understanding as to whether or not I can mess up God’s plan for me. I suppose that is a topic for another day.
However, knowing that God is arranging every minute of my existence to bring about His good purposes motivates me. It challenges me to live in such a way, i.e. in accordance with his will, so that I DO NOT potentially screw things up.
Every minute counts.