Reading Providence (Ruth 2)

“So she set out and went and gleaned in the field after the reapers, and she happened to come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the clan of Elimelech.” —Ruth 2:3 (ESV)

Things happen, but things never just happen. Can you picture the wry smile of the author as he pens this line? Can you see the Spirit’s joy as he moves the human author as his pen? Can you see God’s smile as he etches these events in history?

It is not as though God does the big stuff like famine and harvest and leaves the dust to settle where it will. It isn’t as though God sits in the comfort of the air conditioned cab of his tractor, mindful of acres of work but oblivious to the ant mound he just plowed over. God isn’t so big that he passes over the details. He is so big no detail is passed over.

We must look at all reality through these eyes. This was indeed a divine moment—as every moment is. We mustn’t presume, but we must believe in providence. Presumption occurs when we think we can read providence and that it is a story about us. “It was a divine moment—a God-thing. I saved thousands of dollars.” Funny how me-centered your God-thing is?

John Flavel said that “the providence of God is like Hebrew words—it can be read only backwards.” The author wrote this story from the vantage point of the Davidic covenant. We read it from the vantage point of the new covenant. Don’t presume to be able to read the events of your life with the same kind of clarity.

Nonetheless, believe that there is a God ordering all events, some more significant, others less so, but all ordered for His purpose without one ant marching out of place. Providence isn’t meant to be understood but believed. Our confidence and joy in God’s sovereign goodness flow not from our understanding the details God’s plan, but knowing a God of all understanding has a plan to exalt the King of His people.

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