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Posts from the President Vol 13

Students will be arriving soon on the Providence campus. Each one will have a unique story about their family of origin, their present family if they are married, and their personal journey to September 3, which is registration day. From around the world they will all come together on that day for the first time. Some will stay for a year. Most will stay for three or more. Some will sing in the choir or play inter-collegiate sports or become student leaders or concentrate on getting a great classroom education. The Providence faculty and staff will be here too. God will bring us all together into one body for a period of time. While we are together things will happen to us. Some will find it difficult, others will find it a natural fit. How is God involved in all of this bringing together?

It is difficult to say. Nevertheless, God is involved in all of this. God’s action in the world is called Providence. The Puritans and their heirs actually capitalized the word and used it as a reference to God. Providence is the working of God in the world to accomplish God’s ends for the world. God does this in such a way that the goals God has for individuals and the goals God has for the world are all accomplished at the same time. Only God, in God’s great wisdom, is able to understand all of this.

Over my first year as President of Providence University College and Seminary I have seen more than at any other time in my life the providential hand of God. I doubt that God is more active now than in the past. I think my new role has sensitized me more to divine Providence. My eyes are more open to seeing God’s hand in the various events of life. Sometimes those events are large, like a pipeline explosion. Sometimes those events are relatively small like someone being at home or not at home at a time when I choose to visit.

In our secular age these events are called coincidence or lucky or serendipitous. Even among us who believe we don’t always see events as providential. It is a constant challenge to move away from the culturally dominant secular view of life’s circumstances. But if we are going to move ahead with God, move away we must. This weekend I am going to preach the story of Ruth. At one point the author says Ruth’s “chance chanced upon the field of Boaz” (Ruth 2:3; my literal translation of the Hebrew). Of course, the author did not believe in chance. This was the author’s way of acknowledging divine Providence in the life of Ruth, Boaz, and salvation history, since Ruth and Boaz became progenitors of the messianic line (Ruth 4:18-22). I am looking forward to again reminding myself and my hearers that God really is active in the world.

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