I shift my car into fourth gear, then third, then second, then first, following the glaring brake lights of the car in front of me. Traffic in the middle of the day … it’s becoming normal in Denver. What I didn’t realize was that I’d be parked for an hour with the highway completely shut down. And of course, my gas tank empty light had lit up, so I didn’t want to risk leaving my car running. So I just sat, windows rolled down to avoid the heat. Instead of meeting for Bible study with my teenage friend, I spent my afternoon peering ahead, wondering what sort of accident this was that they weren’t letting a single car through.
Fast backward a couple weeks. The night of our wedding, my husband gave me a gift. He’s notorious for not wrapping things (I think most men are?), so he ceremoniously pulled out a thick, maroon book from his suitcase: Piper’s newest release, Providence.
I guess I’d off-handedly mentioned to him that it would be fun to read someday, and he’d tucked that away in his mind as a way to surprise me. So, off in the Colorado mountains on our honeymoon, I started the almost 700-page, 45-chapter long tome.
What hit me from the start was the phrase “God-entranced world.” In Piper’s words:
“Because of what I now see in the Bible as an all-embracing, all-pervasive providence, I live more consciously in a God-entranced world. I see reality differently. For example, I used to look at sunrises when I was jogging and think that God has created a beautiful world. Then it became less general and more specific, more personal. I said, “Every morning God paints a different sunrise.” He never gets tired of doing it again and again. But then it struck me. No, he doesn’t do it again and again. He never stops doing it. The sun is always rising somewhere in the world. God guides the sun twenty-four hours ever day and paints sunrises at every moment, century after century without one second of respite, and never grows weary or less thrilled with the work of his hands.”1
Whether it’s the intentionality of a sunrise or the detour of a traffic jam in my day’s plan, I’m learning to see God’s providence (his ‘purposeful sovereignty’) as his hand moving lovingly, intentionally, in every detail of my life. Many of the reasons, I will never know. Was he protecting me from an accident by causing that traffic jam? Did he want me to talk to another friend on the phone instead while I was waiting? I will never know. But instead of getting frustrated, I learn I can trust his purposeful hand guiding all things for my good and his glory.
“It is even more sobering and peace giving to immerse ourselves in his providence and watch him, time and again, do and say things that are strange and contrary to our ordinary ways of thinking and acting. In this way, the reality of providence shapes our mind and our affections. We become less vulnerable to panic and perplexity and dread—not because there are no perplexing and fearful circumstances, but because we have seen this before in God’s word. God has shown us, again and again, that things are not what they seem and that he is always weaving something wise and good out of the painful, perplexing threads that look like a tangle in our lives.”2
The traffic jam story is just one incident of a thousand. Learning to see and embrace God’s hand in these little things prepares me for the harder, life-shattering providences to come. I want to deliberately build the habit of surrendering my plans to his better will, so that whatever interruptions come my way—be they blessings or trials—I see them through the glasses of a God-entranced world.
How will you recognize and delight in God’s providence today?
P.S. If you’d rather not labor through the Piper’s entire book, I’d recommend you listen to his own recording of the introduction and the conclusion. You’ll basically the application part of his book without reading through 600 pages of proving his argument through every book of the Bible.
- John Piper, Providence, (Crossway, Wheaton: 2020 ), 21.
- Ibid, 700.
One Comment Add yours
enjoyed your blog today. I will listen to the intro,foreword. You left out a word , “have” in you PS above.