July 5th, 2020
Pastor Jenny Lee, Ph.D.
“A Commitment to the Providence of God”
I will start with a funny story. One day, a girl learned about the theory of evolution. She was curious because she learned from the church that God made humans in the image of God. So, she asked her father about human history. Her father said, “Definitely, we are evolved from monkeys.” She was confused, and she asked her mother about it. “Mom, I wonder who is right. Daddy said, ‘Definitely, we are evolved from monkeys.’ So, do you think that our pastor lied to us? The pastor said, ‘God made human beings in the image of God.’” And then, her mother said, “Both are right because God made everything according to their kinds. A human is made as a human in the image of God, and a monkey is made as a monkey. So, your father is still evolving into a human.”
Life is so full of decisions. From the small things to big decisions; like what kind of foods we may eat for breakfast, lunch, and supper; what kind of clothing we may wear for a date, for work or relaxing, etc. Even our choice of a spouse, work-partner, or a job. Many decisions are made purely based on “seat-of-the-pants” intuition. But we must know how to make the right decisions. If we have solid principles in which our lives are based, and decisions can be made in that context, it may be better. For example, there is something like a family motto, a home discipline, or personal motto.
Do you have any home discipline or any personal motto you follow?
In the Scripture reading for today, we meet Abraham again. Last week, we learned about Abraham’s last test by God. God tested him by asking him to sacrifice his only son as a burnt offering. Through the test, Abraham got a firm motto,” God will provide.” It means a lot to Abraham’s life. His unshakable motto, “God will provide,” was established through his whole life experience with God. In other words, his motto is “a commitment to the Providence of God.”
In the Scripture Genesis, Chapter 24 it talks about how Abraham chooses his only son Isaac’s wife. Abraham had lived a full and eventful life. He was well placed in that “the Lord had blessed Abraham in all things” (24:1). But he still had work to do. As other parents do, Abraham also thinks about his son after he would die. Since he believed that Isaac is the promised son by God, for God’s divine purpose, it is crucial to choose Isaac’s wife. For the choice of his son’s wife, Abraham has three principles based on the motto that “God will provide.”
First, he would choose her from his father’s family and his own clan (24:4; 38). Second is taking her to the Canaan Land, the Promised Land from her hometown (24: 5-8; 39-41). The last is that he believed that God would provide her for the promised son Isaac (24:7; 50).
Abraham was too old to go a far way to choose his son’s wife. So he sends his sincere servant to his hometown. Before sending his servant, Abraham asks his servant to swear to keep the three principles for choosing Isaac’s wife. His servant asks him, “If she does not want to come over here, should I bring Isaac back to the country you were from?” However, Abraham’s principles are firm. He says, “Do not take my son back there. The Lord, the God of heaven, who took me from my father’s house and the Land of my birth, and who spoke to me and swore to me, ‘I will give this land to your offspring.’ He will send his angel before you, and you shall take a wife for my son from there.” So, Abraham’s commitment to the Providence of God is steadfast. It is not negotiable at all. If she is unwilling to come over there, Abraham believed that she is not the person who God prepared for Isaac. It is Abraham’s faithfulness to commit to God in his daily life.
Through Abraham’s faithfulness, his servant also might learn about the sincerity of God. He prays for the Providence of God. “O Lord, God of my master Abraham, please grant me success today and show steadfast love to my master Abraham’ (24:12). He is sitting at the well of water, and prays, “I am standing here by the spring of water.” He also has a principle to find the right person who God guarantees. His principle is very detailed. He looks for a charity girl with the enthusiasm of an extra mile, who is the one that if he asks a girl for a drink of water, she may give a drink of water to his camels as well as him. He prays God, “by this, I shall know that you have shown steadfast love to my master” (24:14). Through the prayers in detail, he tried to find God’s will.
How about you? How do you know when you choose or decide something, whether it is God’s willing or not? When we are faced with an important decision, we may pray. However, we may still be confused. So, we need to pray in detail, asking for a symbol or sign like Abraham’s servant. Of course, as did Abraham, some people purely believe and commit to the Providence of God without seeing any symbols or signs. Jesus also said to Thomas, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John20:29).
However, remember that God cares for us as one on one, not the same way to everyone. The Spirit of God works like a dove, sometimes like fire, and sometimes like wind. God cares of us as one on one perfectly fixing the right way for each person.
For example, Moses also asked God to show a sign when God called him as the leader of Israelites, when he saw God in the burning bushes. Moses said, “If they do not believe me or listen to me and say, the Lord did not appear to you, what can I do?” God showed him signs that his staff becomes a snake. And God said to him that this sign is for what they know that God is present to you (Exodus 4:1-5). God sometimes shows us signs as God’s presence.
The other example is for Gideon (Judges 6:36-40). When God called him as the leader of the Israelites, he asked God, “If you will save Israel by my hand as you have promised. Look, I will place a wool fleece on the threshing floor. If there is dew only on the fleece and all the ground is dry, then I will know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you said.” And, God showed him it happened by what he said. He got a bowlful of water from the fleece, but all the ground was dry. However, Gideon asked God for another sign, saying, “Do not be angry with me by asking of you again. This time, make the fleece dry and the ground covered with dew.” That night God did so for him. So, like that, God does care of us one on one. If you are suspicious of God’s providence, you may pray in detail like Abraham’s servant or Gideon. God may show you the sign as God’s presence.
We must commit to the Providence of God. It is very practical. You may have some family principles or personal motto based on God’s Providence, as Abraham did. Our life might seem to like the same every day. Some of you may feel it like a circle of life. But we live in a new day every day because God makes a new day for us every single day. It is like Joshua marched around the city seven times, instead of fighting with enemies. It may be nothing that happened in our life even though we pray for signs until you have turned around the city seven times. However, God is still working for us. As if the city is destroyed, when Joshua is done seven times, one day, it suddenly shows up as you prayed. It is the Providence of God. The Providence of God works with steadfast love. The way we commit to the Providence of God is that we practice it in daily life. As if we ask of our daily bread in the Lord’s Prayer, we need a new fresh spiritual life every single day. We have to meet God in everyday life, such as in prayer, in the Word of God, in relationships with people around you, and in the nature God made. Israelites had to find the fresh Manna in the wilderness every morning because Manna never sustained by the other day. So, Israelites had to go out looking for the new grace of God every morning. Like that, we have to be looking for the new grace of God. No matter what others do or do not, we have to pray, and we have to commit to the Providence of God. I encourage you to look for the new grace of God every single day so that you may commit to the Providence of God.
Thanks be to God. Amen!