[As I mentioned, I was out of city and country earlier this week, as I attended the Desiring God Conference for Pastors for the third year. I had hoped to blog from Minneapolis. However, in the fullness of my heart and mind, the discovery of new relationships, and the going-from-dawn-to-dust, it just didn't happen. But I didn't want to lose momentum, as I did last year. so, this is my first posting, since I returned to Winnipeg. As always, let me know what you think ....] 

DID YOU EVER wonder how many times the One True and Living God has acted on our behalf –directly, personally, providentially; but we didn’t have a clue that He was aware, interested, or even around?

If we think about it for a second, would we even know the Invisible God has acted for our tangible benefit? I seriously doubt it – except, perhaps, in the most sensational and obvious examples.

And there are clear and compelling examples. Check out these representative Biblical passages on God’s historical intervention into human affairs:

     The LORD said, ‘I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey … Behold, the cry of the people of Israel has come to Me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. Come, I will send you to Pharaoh, that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.’ But Moses said to God, ‘Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?’ He said, ‘But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.‘” – Exodus 3:7-10

     “He ordered some mighty men of his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and cast them into the burning fiery furnace. These men were bound in their cloaks, tunics, hats, and other garments, and thrown into the burning fiery furnace. Because the king’s order was urgent and the furnace overheated, the flame of the fire killed the men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Then these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell bound into the burning fiery furnace. But King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste, and declared to his counselors, ‘Did we not cast three men, bound, into the fire?‘ They answered and said to the king, ‘True, O king.’ He answered and said, ‘But I see four men, unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt. And the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods!’“ – Daniel 3:20-25

     Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.“ – Matthew 1:18-21

     “In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, ‘Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!‘ But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.‘” – Luke 1:26-33

     “Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body. Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. Keep your life free from the love of money, and be content with what you have, for He has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.‘ So we can confidently say: ‘The Lord is my Helper. I will not fear; what can man do to me?‘ Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever! – Hebrews 13:1-8

Okay, so earlier this week – Thursday to be exact, I had an appointment with Dr. August ‘Gus’ Konkel, president of Providence College and Seminary for breakfast at 8:30am. (Providence College and Seminary is in rural Otterburne, Manitoba, about an hour and ten minutes (or so) away from my house in Charleswood, a burrough in Winnipeg.)

Gus and I were meeting to discuss how a once strong and substantial relationship between Bethesda Church and Providence might be renewed.

We also talked about my own desire and long-sensed calling to teach in a more formal educational setting at some point, investing in the next generation of Jesus-disciples and leaders in the church.

I normally have trouble getting out of the house in the morning. Admittedly, part of it is my own fault: Simply put, I’m just not a morning person.

But when I have an early morning departure, my daughters are usually just getting up and about, and it’s very difficult for me to pull away without first connecting with them, before we go our separate ways.

So, I was leaving for my appointment a full ten minutes after I had planned. TEN MINUTES LATE.

I must have still been half asleep, when I took a longer, slower route to get out of town. FIVE MORE MINUTES LATE.

Now I’m on my way and heading south on Highway 59 toward Otterburne. But the farther I went, the more I became convinced that I must have passed the Otterburne intersection.

I pulled over to the side of the road, and turned around – only to realize that I hadn’t gone far enough. (In actuality, I probably could have seen my intersection from where I turned around, if my vision was good enough!)

Anyway, I turned around, and just a couple of minutes later, I was turning onto Otterburne Road. FIVE MORE MINUTES LATE.

I’m guessing that the distance between the Highway 59/Otterburne Road intersection and Providence College and Seminary is just over a mile, straightaway.

About halfway there, I came up on people in the road and something going on at the side of the road. As I got closer, I realized that an accident had just happened, only a few minutes before.

A red car was smashed up pretty bad, but upright. A white car seemed not as severely smashed up, but upside down. Four people stood shivering on the side of the road — no doubt, shivering from both cold and fright.

As I stopped to find out if anyone was hurt and/or needed assistance, an ambulance – which I had seen and heard approaching in the distance as I turned off of Highway 59 – pulled right up behind me. I got out of the way by continuing on up the road to Providence.

But ten minutes here; five minutes there; and five more minutes when I was just on the cusp of my destination, and who knows: Though no one seemed seriously injured in the crash, what would a third car in the mix have done?

Was I just half asleep, as I went east across South Winnipeg? Was I simply confused, as I approached my turn off to Providence? Was I merely late, again, as I left the house, giving my kids an extra hug and our usual daddy-daughter-banter? 

     If God exists, if He is all-knowing, if He is Almighty, if He is everywhere-present-eternally, AND if He is infinitely good, infinitely loving, and infinitely merciful – all of which the whole of Scripture, from Genesis to maps, makes abundantly clear; why then should we think it strange, or unusual, or improbable that the One True, Living, and Invisible God should act from time-to-time in tangible, historical ways on behalf of His children?

That God doesn’t always act – as we would like, when we would like – is no argument against God’s sovereign and merciful action in history, according to His own timing, wisdom, word, and will. The God of the Bible is the God who intervenes into human history by His sovereign action.

One more thing. On Thursday, I arrived at my destination – Providence College and Seminary … 15 minutes early! And no, the math just doesn’t add up ….

God’s grace and blessings to you and yours from me and mine!

Pastor Mark

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