Trace the Threads

It has been the pious and constant practice of the saints in all generations to preserve the memory of the more famous and remarkable providences that have befallen them in their times as a precious treasure. If thou be a Christian indeed, I know thou hast, if not in thy book, yet certainly in thy heart, a great many precious favours upon record; the very remembrance and rehearsal of them is sweet; how much more sweet was the actual enjoyment.  –John Flavel, The Mystery of Providence, quoting Richard Baxter.

I love the topic of God’s Providence. God sustains and directs all things for his glory and our good. Flavel and Baxter tell us that remembering God’s providences in our lives is a sweet and pleasurable activity.

Trace back the threads that God wove together to bring you to himself.

I was raised a Catholic in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Although I left the Catholic church when I became a Christian, I had learned much that was true about Jesus Christ as a child – that Jesus is God who became man, born of a virgin. That he never sinned, then died on a cross and rose from the dead. So I had some foundation laid for my later conversion.

In God’s providence, when I was 14, my father’s company just “happened” to transfer him to Indiana, PA, where I would later go to college. There I “happened” to meet a young lady who one year after college, “happened” to meet a man on a plane wearing a Jesus t-shirt, which got her attention and prompted a brief conversation about Jesus. A couple months later, my girlfriend, leafing through the local newspaper “happened” to see a picture of the man she’d met a couple weeks before. “Here’s the guy I met on the plane,” she said, “he’s speaking in a retreat center 20 minutes from here. We have to go see him!” We went to the meeting, after which he led me in a prayer to receive Christ. I genuinely believed in Jesus that night but didn’t know that I should turn from sin, so I continued in a sinful lifestyle for a year until another friend just “happened” to invite me to a bible study. The speaker, who just “happened” to be a substitute for the regular speaker, spoke on following Christ wholeheartedly and I made the decision to do that. All these things could have seemed like coincidences, but each event was sovereignly directed by God. Nothing happens by accident.

If we could see all the events of our lives, they might look like jigsaw pieces to us.

But God knows where each one fits and is putting them all together, piece by piece. He’s weaving the threads of our lives together like a beautiful tapestry, which we can’t see now but someday will. But we can glimpse his hand at work if we take the time to notice. Recall the events God orchestrated to bring you to Christ. Noticing and contemplating God’s providences builds our faith that his hand is directing every single event in our lives today.

Mark Altrogge

I’m a pastor at Saving Grace Church in Indiana, PA. I’m married to Kristi, have 5 kids, and a growing number of grandkids. I enjoy songwriting, oil painting and coffee, not necessarily in that order.

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