Saturday started out like many other Saturdays. This time, in the Lord’s Providence, we had an aide to help assist me with my morning routine. She did an admirably good job for the first time; we were pleased. Next, I had my daily “quiet time.” I focus my attention upon the Bible, God’s word. Then I began to work on my Sunday school lesson, finishing up some details.
Judy came into the room and reminded me that it was a beautiful day – a good time to do something. Since it was Fall and still comfortably warm out, we decided to look for some apples. The plan was to take our grandchildren, David, Isabel and Jonathan, apple picking, and then grab a bite to eat. When we got to the “orchard” it turned out to be a roadside stand. They did, however have a pumpkin patch but the grandchildren.” “had already done that” the week before.
So, it was decided we would head off to Cracker Barrel and have an early dinner. This is where the fun really started. While we were driving, I tried to adjust my chair (power wheelchair). On two occasions, it made a horrible grinding and thumping sound before lunging forward. By the time we arrived at the restaurant, I was sitting rather uncomfortably and bent over. What was worse, was that the safety mechanisms of the chair prevented me from driving it. I was stuck and it was now getting late on Saturday afternoon.
Let me explain what being stuck means. I was sitting in my wheelchair, in my van. I was bent well forward and the wheelchair was inoperable – unable to be moved. Not only was my wheelchair locked inside a special locking mechanism, but the safety system was overriding the normal operating system. It was not a good situation…
In God’s Providence, we live in one of the very few (later explained as 3) locations in the United States, which is near (10 to 15 miles) to a Permobile mechanic. By now, I have had a good history with Nathan, the mechanic; he has come to my rescue on a couple of previous occasions, none of which were as serious as this. I hoped that he could either walk us through some corrective procedures or come and rescue me. So, after getting his number, we phoned him and left a message. We also had the phone number of his supervisor, Randy. So, we also gave him a call and left a message.
In just a couple of minutes, Randy contacted us and was apprised of our circumstances. He then informed us that since Nathan had some family responsibilities, he could meet us. We agreed to drive half the distance and he the other. So, we headed off to Norfolk to rendezvous with Randy.
We have known Randy for over three years. Through the VA, we have purchased two wheelchairs from Permobile and he has facilitated and serviced them. Always polite, helpful and businesslike, Randy was a quiet man – sort of a mystery to us. We just didn’t know very much about him.
Our rendezvous point with Randy was located about a 1 ½ miles from where we lived when I was serving in the Navy. So, while we were waiting to meet up with Randy, Judy and I had time to reminisce and reflect upon old times. The trip down memory lane was enjoyable to both of us. When we connected with Randy, I apologized for fouling up his Saturday afternoon. He didn’t mind. He said he was glad that he could be of assistance.
As Randy worked on the wheelchair, disconnecting the tilt function, we chatted with him regarding many things. Turns out that we had quite a bit in common. Randy had grown up in Norfolk, lived in the same area and attended the same church, which had been influential in my maturing as a Christian. We knew some of the same people, have grown children and have served overseas as missionaries. It was delightful to learn that Randy was a brother in the Lord. It was easy to recognize that his helpfulness to us (and presumably to others in similar situations), reflected his love and service to God. He was demonstrating God’s graciousness through the situations, which confronted him in life.
So, Randy patched up the wheelchair – it still needs some major repair; but it is workable. I was then able to drive out of the van, and make limited use of the wheelchair until the replacement parts arrive and are installed.
As we rode home, Judy and I rejoiced in the blessings of the Lord. Not only were we able to get the wheelchair serviced by an expert, the repair parts ordered but we also reminisced about God’s dealing with us in the past. Moreover, we rejoiced that we became better acquainted with a Christian brother, who spends energies helping others.
There’s something I want to highlight in case you haven’t noticed. On a couple of occasions, I have mentioned “God’s Providence.”
Providence is a very practical and important biblical doctrine which quite often goes unrecognized. We find ourselves in situations and know that we must act or react. It seems like everything depends on human initiative. For instance, Joe Blow does something to me and I, one way or the other, must respond. So, it’s up to me! We easily see the human side of things. This of course is good. We are accountable to God for all our actions and inactions.
Nevertheless, we tend to forget that, in and through all these circumstances, there is a higher hand and greater purpose. J.I. Packer, a well-known Bible scholar and theologian helps us to understand: “Providence is normally defined in Christian theology as the unceasing activity of the Creator whereby, in overflowing bounty and goodwill (Ps. 145:9 cf. Mt. 5:45–48), he upholds his creatures in ordered existence (Acts 17:28; Col. 1:17; Heb. 1:3), guides and governs all events, circumstances and free acts of angels and men (cf. Ps. 107; Jb. 1:12; 2:6; Gn. 45:5–8), and directs everything to its appointed goal, for his own glory (cf. Eph. 1:9–12).”
Note: The Scripture references are included so that you can check out or investigate the scriptural basis for these statements.
In my opinion, the doctrine of God’s sovereignty is more than optional information; it is extremely practical and helpful. So, for instance, in my story above, it is comforting to see that my heavenly Father is attending to all my needs. When circumstances are favorable, it is not difficult to discern the love of God.
It is when things are difficult that this doctrine is of greater comfort. Although this may sound contradictory, God is still in control, even when… You fill in the blank. There are a great many options from which to choose. The political realm (think national elections), strained relationships, health problems, employment, or lack thereof, etc. You get the point. There are a host of difficulties which we must each face in our lives.
I find it of great comfort to read a passage such as, 1 Peter 5.6 –11:
6Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you,
7casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
8Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
9Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.
10And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.
11To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
Here is my summary of this huge and difficult topic: All creation (including you and me) act freely and is responsible to God for our (free) actions. At the same time, God supernaturally attends and directs all the affairs of his creatures for his own glory and for our good.
- Live according to God’s Word – we are accountable to God.
Remember that God is in control – God is at work for his glory and my good.