Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "All For Jesus"1 (Lyrics)
I'm making a folding display frame that will stand up on a table and hold the name tags for recurring clergy meetings. When not in use, it closes up with a clasp, but it needs a carrying handle.
So, I went to a thrift shop and bought one for a dollar. Actually, it's a drawer pull, but I thought that it would do the job. However, still in its plastic bag, it fell into two pieces just after I left the shop. I wondered whether I could glue it back together and whether it would hold.
After that, I headed off to help some friends empty out the apartment of an old dearie who has moved into a seniors' home. Some of her belongings we parted out to her friends, but most things went to a Christian thrift shop, and the rest, after some discussion, went to the dumpster. If you've been through the process, you'll understand that we sometimes felt a bit like vultures.
So, partway through the move, the head vulture held out his hand and said to me, "Do you have any use for this?" It was a sturdy, one-piece aluminum drawer pull that will never fall apart, much bigger and better for the task than the one that I'd bought a couple of hours before. In addition, the head vulture works for the same thrift shop chain that I'd bought the other one from. Were these just coincidences?
There had to be a lesson in that.
So much of life seems to happen by chance. The ancient Hebrew philosophers understood that feeling, but they countered it in terms of their theistic faith. They said, "The lot is cast into the lap; but its every decision is from the Lord." (Proverbs 16:33 NKJV) Or as Thomas à Kempis put it, "Man proposes, but God disposes."
But in this scientific (sometimes pseudo-scientific) age, many of us who believe at all, unwittingly become deists rather than theists. That is, although we believe that God somehow invented the universe, nevertheless, we see that universe trucking along under its own steam, with matter behaving "lawfully", according to its properties, leaving little room for God to intervene or "tinker".
Sometimes, life's outcomes seem quite arbitrary. As one ancient Hebrew philosopher wrote, "The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding, nor favor to men of skill; but time and chance happen to them all." (Ecclesiastes 9:11 NKJV)
But Jesus assures us that time and chance are not the final determinants. He says, "Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father's will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows." (Matthew 10:29-31 NKJV)
This takes us back to that ancient Hebrew wisdom, which says, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths." (Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV)
This means that, when it seems as if our world is falling to pieces, God still has a handle on it.
Prayer: O God, Your never-failing providence orders all things both in heaven and on earth. We humbly beseech You to put away from us all hurtful things, and to give us those things that are profitable for us, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.