Life is often quite busy here at Back to the Bible Canada. Yesterday was no exception. I had just finished recording three broadcasts with the knowledge that I still had two more to record today. So I would not get “bogged down,” I decided to change my study space. Sometimes, I find a change of venue can help re-energize me. And so, I left my office with my laptop and headed out to Starbucks.
Since it was around 3:00 p.m., I decided to beat the traffic home, and find a Starbucks half way there. But as I got to the off-ramp, I saw that it was more jammed with cars than I have ever seen before. I made a quick decision not to stop there, and went further down the road. Another off-ramp, and another Starbucks. I ordered my coffee, only to notice all the tables were full. Only one long table facing a window was available, a place which often jams people close together.
“Ah well,” I thought. “This is less than ideal, but it will have to do.”
I opened my laptop, got out my Bible and notes, and soon lost myself in my work. Soon, there was a man sitting next to me, and I could tell he was leaning over to see what I was up to. I honestly did not want to engage in a conversation. I had a deadline looming on the horizon, and this was hardly a time to chat. (Too bad that last off-ramp was so full! I probably would have found a quiet coffee shop there.)
But there I was with a man sitting next to me, clearly observing. Finally, he spoke.
“Are you writing a sermon?” he asked.
I nodded and tried to indicate that I was very busy, but he was not to be dissuaded. Again I tried to indicate that I had a deadline, and could not talk, but again, he did not back down. Eventually, with an inward sigh, I turned to him, realizing this might take a while. Too bad about that off-ramp, I thought.
But the man beside me had something to say. He had worked for a Christian relief agency in the past, and had witnessed an African massacre. Through that experience, he had begun to question the sovereignty of God. And then, on top of that, he told me of a series of trumped up charges that were brought against him by an unethical individual. That incident had cost him his job. And through that, he had all the reason for suspecting that God was not sovereign. If God were in control, how could such evil and injustice be allowed to continue? Furthermore, following the charges brought against him, the person bringing the charges had suffered no harm. But he, the innocent party, had.
In an instant, I saw what the man beside me did not see.
My need for changing my work space and an unusual traffic jam all converged to this one location at this specific time. God’s providential hand had brought both me and him to that spot. This was the sovereign hand of God. I won’t indicate what we spoke of in the coffee shop, for that is confidential. But I know that God did put me there, to meet a man who was in danger of losing his faith.
And that has got me to thinking. There are two ways to see all of life’s unexpected events. Here, I mean everything from the times when slanderers and wicked people seem to win the day, and even wreck havoc on our lives, to the minor inconveniences that make our day turn out differently from what we had expected.
We can either trust that God uses all things for his glory and our long term good, or we can rebel against His ever present hand.
How happy it was for Joseph who, in the midst of all the hardship he faced, could look at his brothers in the end and say, “You intended this for evil, but God intended it for good.” (Genesis 50:20)