Sitting Athwart God’s Plan

Some years ago, I went backpacking with friends, one Jewish and the other Agnostic. One day, high in the Canadian Rockies, we decided to visit a glacier. The trail only took us part way. The rest of the way, we meandered cross country. Part way there, we spied a moose and approached as close as we dared, always keeping a tree between us and it. We took great pictures and the excitement kept us bouncing the rest of the way. Finally we arrived at the glacier, but at this point, I realized that at some point, I had become bereft of my hat. In the excitement of the day, I hadn’t noticed. On the way back, being a trackless waste, we frequently traveled a different route. Suddenly, there was my hat. My Jewish friend asked, “Did you pray to find the hat?” I admitted doing so. He then accused me, “If you have such great power, why do you waste it on such a trivial thing?” This bothered me, like a thorn in my walk with God. For years, I sought an answer.

Years later, I was on a retreat with men from my Church. Since a manager of the camp came from our Church, he left us little welcoming gifts, which included a packet of gum. Though I dislike gum intensely, I stuck it and the rest of the goodies in my pocket. Then, having some free time in the afternoon, I asked around and learned that I could rent a boat, or if I wanted, the use of the rowboat was free. (I can hear my wife now, ‘He is attracted to free like moth to a candle.’) I trotted down to the lake and cast about for the rowboat. Finally, I spied it lurking in the weeds. I jury-rigged oarlocks out of rope, righted the decrepit craft, and shoved off for adventure. Sitting on the thwart, I began rowing. After I rowed for a while out into the huge lake, my damp feet alerted me to the fact that the boat had acquired a little too much water. Pausing my rowing, I crawled around until I ascertained the boat contained one and only one hole. I was sinking out in the middle of the large cold lake. Pondering my predicament, my thoughts returned to that rejected piece of candy. I quickly chewed a batch, saving half lest I need more. Jamming the wad into the hole, I knew I could row back before it was pushed out and I was returned to the dire predicament. Instead, I returned to the thwart and continued rowing farther. It remained firmly lodged and finally, when dinner time was approaching, I returned to the dock.

Here, like my hat, God had done a small act. Again, I pondered, “Was this a waste of that great power?” This time, though, I had not asked. Then I remembered the verse, “For He gives to His beloved even in his sleep.” (Ps 127:2) Even before I knew to pray about the problem, when I was “asleep” as to the danger, He had already sent the solution. I pondered some more. Why would God care about something so trivial? He had not only made this world but the whole Solar System. Then I thought bigger, the whole Milky Way galaxy. Again that was too small. There are more galaxies visible to astronomers than all the stars in the galaxy. He had made them all. If He made the trillions upon trillions of stars, and multiple planets around each, how could He possibly have time for this small collection of atoms, me, who was less than the dust on the scales?

“Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are regarded as a speck of dust on the scales. (Isa 40:15) Again, I suddenly realized that I was still thinking too small. He says, “Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows. (Mk 10:29-31) My God is so great that He can watch over the whole universe and still care about the sparrows and number the hairs on my head. That question that has been tearing at me for all those years was thwarted. My God’s power is so great that He can care about a hat without in one iota reducing His power to care about the millions who are sick and hurting. Why are there still sick and hurting? There is an answer, but that is for other posts. For now, rejoice, for He cares about the smallest details in our lives. We can rest in His care, knowing He has already prepared the solution before we talk to Him about it.

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