Now the kingdom of heaven of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. (Matthew 13:44)
Last night in our home group people shared personal stories of God’s supernatural provision. I shared how one day while on my motorcycle I ran out of gas. My immediate reaction upon finding myself on the shoulder of the road was that this would be an adventure of watching how God would provide for His child (I wish I could say that this was a typical reaction under such scenarios!). I said a short prayer, something like this, “Father, here I am. You already knew all this and have a plan for my provision, please send help.” I probably had not walked more than 10-20 steps up the side of the road before a man in a truck pulled over to help. He was extremely kind and was thrilled to help me. He was even more encouraged in his act of service when he found out that he was helping a Pastor. Turns out he was a deacon in his church. We had a great talk, real Christian fellowship. We both drove away from that experience somehow feeling that God had set it up.
Or had He? Maybe I caused it all by my choice to risk that my reserve fuel supply would take me to the next village? Maybe I caused a crisis and then one of a multitude of God’s kids happened by at his usual time on that road? Maybe a Christian simply capitalized on one of many opportunities in a typical week to serve someone in need? I suppose any of these scenarios could explain what happened.
A good friend of mine tells a story of how he was involved in a small fender-bender on a highway one day. After both parties had pulled to the shoulder they found that the only apparent damage was a part of the fender that was now misadjusted. My friend crawled under the stranger’s car and found that all that was needed was to loosen a couple of bolts, realign the part, and then tighten the bolts back up. The problem was that he didn’t have any tools and he needed a 1/2 inch wrench. That’s when he happened to look down on the ground, and right there in front of his foot was a 1/2 inch wrench! You can imagine the amazement he felt. He immediately gave thanks to God, fixed the car, and was happily on his way (without a ticket or insurance problem).
It’s a little bit harder to explain that event as a coincidence that God capitalized on. I have no way of calculating the odds for all that happening by pure chance. But it would be close to the odds of the Republicans in Congress suddenly changing their minds on Obama’s health care plan.
The question I ask is not whether or not I believe God has been involved in these events. Rather, my question is to what extent He’s involved? Is it simply foreknowledge and then a divine response to rectify the problem created by poor human judgment? Or does God actually bring some of these events to pass by divinely influencing decisions and outcomes before they occur? I think it can be either or both.
You can’t explain my friend’s miracle wrench simply by saying that God has foreknowledge of every event. Foreknowledge might explain Him knowing I would run out of gas and then stirring the heart of a person who happened to be passing by to stop and help me.
Foreknowledge might explain him seeing my friend on the roadside needing a wrench. But foreknowledge doesn’t explain the reality of the wrench and it’s specific placement at my friend’s feet that day! I think God somehow decreed that the wrench be left at that exact position, maybe years in advance!
As I told this story last night in home group, one person made a comment about trusting God when it’s your wrench that gets lost! Wow. That was a profound thought to me. I always look at these special testimonies from the “receiving side” and not the “losing side”.
Before anyone can find a hidden treasure, someone else had to first lose it, give it away, or intentionally plant it.
I guess this should give me a greater sense of peace about all the stuff I’ve misplaced over the years!!! Seriously though, I think a heightened appreciation of God’s sovereignty, foreknowledge, and nearness to us in each moment would help us to face each day’s trials with more grace. Who knows what God might be setting up today or in the future?
Have you got any stories like this to tell? I’d love to hear them.