“Go outside and play!” That was an important part of my parent’s parenting strategy. It was not a cop-out – but legitimate instruction. When they needed privacy for parental conference, or we were too much underfoot for my mother, or when we moped around decrying, “I’m bored,” the Rx was “go outside and play.” The only ‘screens’ in those days covered our doors and windows. So outside was the place of adventure, imagination and industry.
And go outside we did. Building forts in the woods, riding our bikes for miles and miles, gathering the neighborhood gang for baseball, acrobatics on the Boyd’s trampoline, and our favorite game – Spycraft. Don’t look for it at Game Stop. Spycraft was a game of our own invention. It was a simple game. A hapless neighbor working outside, washing their car, or completing some home improvement project became our target. We began at the point in our cul-de-sac farthest from our quarry. And we would work ourselves as close as possible without being observed by anyone. And in a neighborhood in which watching the neighbors was the unwritten covenant, this was no small challenge.
Hedges, trees, cars, other yard décor in our neighbors’ yards were carefully navigated. Features which had their own unique dangers. The game could go for hours. It took time, careful movement, stealthy concealment and an indefatigable desire to draw close to our object. We were surprisingly effective, or so we thought.
Have you ever thought that others are working carefully, tirelessly, intentionally to draw nearer to you? Though their actions are undetectable as we go about our own lives unaware, they are watching, listening, loving us from a distance? This has been the theme of many great love stories and is a beautiful part of The Great Love Story, the Bible. While our God is a God who reveals himself through His Word, by His Spirit and most fully in His Son, much of his love and care for us goes undetected.
Jesus noted in John 5, “my Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.” The psalmist notes in Psalm 121 that, “He who watches over you will neither slumber, nor sleep.” And this reminds us that even as we sleep, the Lord is awake, preparing grace for us in the coming hours and days. This is the sweet doctrine of Providence. Our Westminster Shorter Catechism expresses it succinctly and well.
Q. 11. What are God’s works of providence?Westminster Shorter Catechism
A. God’s works of providence are his most holy, wise and powerful preserving and governing all his creatures, and all their actions.
Nothing is out of his control. No circumstance, no crisis, no sorrow, no past, present or future action. He is the God who governs all his creatures and their actions – to graciously redeem, restore, and bless his beloved people. Through providence he works “in all things… for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28) Do you believe this? Can you rest in the truth that even when you don’t see him drawing near, seeing, hearing, and knowing you and your life, that He is always at work, even to this very day?
Amram and Jochebed, Moses’ parents, believed in the providence of God. They lived in trying times, oppressed by slavery and death. Marriage and family seem ill advised. Yet they trusted in God’s providence rather than fate, or circumstance. Though their grasp of God was in spiritual infancy, God granted them sufficient faith that his promises could not fail. Even when God seems unseen he is seen in his providence. The poet William Cowper would later express the ethos of their faith in his hymn, God Moves In A Mysterious Way.
God moves in a mysterious way
his wonders to perform;
he plants his footsteps in the sea,
and rides upon the storm.
Deep in unfathomable mines
of never-failing skill
he treasures up his bright designs,
and works his sovereign will.
Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
the clouds ye so much dread
are big with mercy, and shall break
in blessings on your head.
Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
but trust him for his grace;
behind a frowning providence
he hides a smiling face.
His purposes will ripen fast,
unfolding ev’ry hour;
the bud may have a bitter taste,
but sweet will be the flow’r.
Blind unbelief is sure to err,William Cowper
and scan his work in vain;
God is his own interpreter,
and he will make it plain.
Exodus 2 unfolds the remarkable providences of God that fulfill his promises to Jacob’s offspring. Yet he is still undercover. Sometimes God goes undercover in our lives. But he is never absent. The providences that bring about the birth of a deliverer for Hebrew slaves anticipates a greater deliverer whose birth, death and rising again deliver us from sin’s slavery and death. Join us this week as we examine Exodus 2:1-10 and consider the undercover God and the challenges we face to live by a faith that has ‘confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1)
We meet from 5:00 – 6:30 pm in The Commons at St. Andrews Anglican Church at 8300 Kanis Rd in Little Rock for worship. Get directions here or contact us for more info. You can also join us on Facebook Live @RiverCityARP or on YouTube.