By Pastor Ronald Bernier, Master Builder Ministries, Fall River, MA
“Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying: ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.’ Then said I: ‘Ah, Lord God! Behold, I cannot speak, for I am a youth.’ But the Lord said to me: ‘Do not say, I am a youth. For you shall go to all to whom I send you, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of their faces, for I am with you to deliver you,’ says the Lord. Then the Lord put forth His hand and touched my mouth, and the Lord said to me: ‘Behold, I have put my words in your mouth. See, I have this day set you over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out and to pull down, to destroy and to throw down, to build and to plant.’” Jeremiah 1:4-10
So, begins the call of Jeremiah the prophet. Like Jeremiah, each of us has a calling, determined before our formation. This is when the counsel of the Lord according to His infinite wisdom and purpose, fashions people for His bidding. Those who would carry His word to nations, trusting in God’s wisdom, direction, rulership and empowerment. It is through His providence that our stories begin. It is through His providence that our stories unfold. We are not alone, for we are called in community. Our directives given, and obedient actions carried out, paint a great tapestry of God’s superintendency over His creation for which we have been called as stewards. Our story is part of His-story.
The word “providence” means “the act of providing or preparing for future use or application” (Webster’s 1828 Dictionary). It also means “foresight; timely care . . . Foresight accompanied with the procurement of what is necessary for future use, or with suitable preparation.” Webster goes on to say that providence is “the care and superintendency which God exercises over His creatures . . . By divine providence is often understood as God Himself.” Within the word “providence” is contained ideas such a looking ahead, preparing for the future, and using care and oversight over important things.
A providential view of history is established upon the basis that God’s character and nature are revealed through His timely care and preparation of individuals and events in His story (which are the two parts of the root of the word “history”). When studying the past, we can see His hand preparing for His plan to take place on earth. This aspect of His sovereignty gives meaning to our lives, demonstrating that our relationship to God and His plan actually allows us to direct the path of history according to the Eternal Plan of God’s Kingdom.
Ephesians 1:11 In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will.
Here in this passage we find a statement regarding how God works in all of history to fulfill His purposes. His ultimate purpose of conforming us into His image and uniting heaven and earth requires the sovereign timing of all historical events throughout time “after the counsel of His will.”
Each one of us was called and chosen “before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4), and history is the outworking of God’s sovereign plan in relation to our individual lives. It is this view of history that causes us to identify His hand, giving clarity as to