Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Mystery of Providence - Chapter Two

Our Birth and Upbringing

In this chapter Flavel reminds us of God's work of Providence in planting us when and where he did. Most of his examples show that birth in 17th century England is to be preferred to any other time or place. After all, who would want to be born in heathen America?

He details the benefits of a Godly upbringing, and ends the chapter with admonitions to parents to care for the spiritual welfare of their children and to children to obey the commands of Godly parents.

As I read this chapter I was once again reminded of the Providential nature of my own birth and upbringing. I can only marvel at the way that God has woven together all the strands of my life for my benefit and His glory.

I was born to an American serviceman and his English wife in Newfoundland, Canada. As a result, I have dual US/Canadian citizenship. Had both my parents been US citizens at the time of my birth I would only have US citizenship. I sometimes feel like the Apostle Paul, and continue to wonder how God will use my possession of US and Canadian passports for His use.

As an Army brat I lived all over, to include a total of five years in England during two separate periods. Spending your formative years in a foreign country, especially if it is very pleasant due to the proximity of your foreign grandparents, makes one into a completely different person than one planted and rooted in one place. Upon our return from England in 1968 my Dad had orders to Ft. Huachuca, Arizona. Even though he didn't think that it was a good thing that these were changed en route to the Vietnamese Language School at Biggs Field in El Paso, Texas (next stop, Vietnam), it was good for me in many, many ways.

First, it was in El Paso that I was introduced to Christ Jesus. During a summer job as a teenager a fellow co-worker took interest in my soul and shared the Gospel with me. Second, I was enfolded into a Bible believing church where I learned to practice my faith while sitting under Godly preaching and teaching. Third, I met my wife of almost 30 years, Barbara, an El Paso native. I am sure that my children are glad of this, even though our son is now living and working at Ft. Huachuca in Arizona.

Providence weaves all of these strands together in a wonderful way. While I grew up in a nominally Christian home (Dad was raised a Congregationalist and Mom in the Church of England), I am now blessed that both Mom and Dad worship in the church that I pastor, both of our children are in the faith, my son-in-law recently came to faith, and my grandchildren are being raised in a Godly home. How different all of this would be had the US Army not changed Dad's orders in 1968. Yet, the God that we serve is not only more powerful than the US Army, He actually directs its course.

The wonderful thing about this is the fact that Providence has not yet run its course. All of my history is being used to determine the next steps in this wonderful pilgrimage. At the same time I have the assurance that everything that happens is under His control.

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