I’m re-reading The Mystery of Providence by the seventeenth century Puritan, John Flavel. I think you can find it on the internet as a free e-book. It is worth reading. I was once again struck, in re-reading the introduction, by the account of his trial-filled yet faithful and fruitful ministry in Dartmouth, England. Flavel faithfully expounded God’s word for forty years and, even after his death, his ministry continued to bear fruit. Listen to this amazing and encouraging account.
Luke Short was a farmer in New England (USA) who reached his one hundredth year in exceptional vigour, though without having sought peace with God. One day as he sat in his fields reflecting upon his long life, he recalled a sermon he had heard in Dartmouth as a boy before he set sail for America. The horror of dying under the curse of God was impressed upon him as he meditated on the words he had heard so long ago, and he was converted to Christ—eighty-five years after hearing John Flavel preach.
What a most-encouraging reminder of the promise and purpose and power of God’s word! A text undergirding this truth is Isaiah 55:8–11:
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
What a profound truth for us in these days. Our sovereign God is doing a great work in the world and it is going according to his plan. We have his faithful and powerful word on it!
One of the many great truths to which we are being exposed in Mark 13 is that history is under God’s sovereign, planned, and therefore providential control. History is moving in accordance with God’s perfect will through King Jesus, who upholds all things by the word of his power (Hebrews 1:3). He will accomplish his purposes completely, and he will do so in perfect conformity with what he has promised in his word. So, keep on believing his word, keep on proclaiming his word, and keep on praying in accordance with the promises of his word.
I have been greatly strengthened in my spirit by the knowledge that, decades after the death of John Flavel, his faithful proclamation of God’s word bore fruit. What a meeting in heaven that must have been between Flavel and Luke Short!
Brothers and sisters, if you are like me, you struggle with patience. I want to see results and I want to see them now! I want to see immediate response from my witnessing, my discipling, my preaching, and my praying. I want to see immediate results from my trust in God—especially in trying days like these. I want to see miraculous deliverances of several kinds. But I am learning that, apparently, God is not in as big a hurry as I am. Since he has decreed what will come to pass, and since he will fulfil his will—in his time and according to his word—he is appropriately at ease in Zion. Our Lord, who is ruling and reigning, not merely over the church, but rather over the entire universe (Colossians 1:15–20) has everything under his care and control. His ultimate plan and how he gets there may be a mystery to us but, gratefully, it is no mystery to him.
Believing with you,