Together we have been reading through The Mystery of Providence written by Puritan John Flavel. You can read more about the project here.
Up until this point, there has been a constant conviction about how much of the work of Providence we simply expect to be included in God’s care over us. With little recognition of just how much God is involved in the details, we fail to fully and completely grasp the magnitude of His care and provision. We can be thankful then, for chapter 9 of Mystery of Providence as John Flavel lists practical ways to dwell on God’s Providence.
There is a great need by us to be in constant consideration of God’s work. That need is subjected to an intensive and extensive thoughtfulness to it. We may take the work of God in its full account recognizing its pervasiveness in every aspect of our lives. Have you ever taken the time to dwell on just how involved God is in your life in your everyday tasks? He is seen through his provision of opportunity and his provision of ability.
Another needed aspect is that of spiritual discipline. As Flavel words it, “Work your hearts toward and exercise those affections towards providence.” Paul writes a similar thought to Timothy, urging him to train himself in godliness (1 Timothy 4:7-8). A piece of spiritual discipline is reflecting on God and His providence and then responding to it in worship. It takes time to develop this spiritual discipline, training one’s self to be vigilant of Him at every moment.
Perhaps the greatest point of this particular chapter is the need to have a special respect for God. The importance of God’s Word can never be over-emphasized as it seems that even in its emphasis, the serious attitude we should have towards it is often overlooked. The Word of God interprets the work of God. And while God’s Word is often confirmed by our experiences, it is not defined by our experiences. Instead our experiences are defined by God’s Word. The power of the Bible can be nothing less than phenomenal because it:
- is wisdom,
- profits much for those who keep it,
- affirms a trust in God,
- demonstrates the relationship between sin and affliction,
- provides security through its promises,
- provides assurance,
- acts as a support and relief, and
- points us towards God.
With such an extraordinary impact on a person’s life, why is it that the Word is so frequently neglected? Reflection on the providence of God cannot occur without a proper meditation on Scripture as well (Psalm 1:1-3). As a relevant part of a person’s life, it must become real in a person’s life.