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Catechism Buzz: Tender Plans

06 May 2011 by Brad Williams

Q. 18. What are God's works of providence?
A. God's works of providence are his most holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing all his creatures; ordering them, and all their actions, to his own glory.

Q. 19. What is God's providence towards the angels?
A. God by his providence permitted some of the angels, willfully and irrecoverably, to fall into sin and damnation, limiting and ordering that, and all their sins, to his own glory; and established the rest in holiness and happiness; employing them all, at his pleasure, in the administrations of his power, mercy, and justice.

Q. 20. What was the providence of God toward man in the estate in which he was created?
A. The providence of God toward man in the estate in which he was created, was the placing him in paradise, appointing him to dress it, giving him liberty to eat of the fruit of the earth; putting the creatures under his dominion, and ordaining marriage for his help; affording him communion with himself; instituting the Sabbath; entering into a covenant of life with him, upon condition of personal, perfect, and perpetual obedience, of which the tree of life was a pledge; and forbidding to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, upon the pain of death.

I have known providences both bitter and sweet, and I am certain that so many more unknown providences have passed me by that they could not be counted by even my active imagination. I know that God's plans for me are tender, and I know that he has ordained all my going out and coming in for my good. In this post, I will recount only one particular providence because, as John once said, if I were to write of all God's kindnesses towards me, all the books in the world would not be sufficient to contain them.

My parents were in the process of divorce while I was still in the womb. I have no memory of my parents being together. The only picture I have of all three of us was taken on the day of my college graduation. I grew up having never known what it was like to see one's parents in love, much less did I know the beauty of a Christian marriage.

Flash forward from that picture to my attending a good friend's wedding. Of all the marvelous gifts I saw there, the greatest gift I saw was his parents and hers, both godly and together, praising the Lord for their children and their future union. I prayed, "Oh God, let this be my gift to my children: that their mom and dad will still be together and in love when they marry." It was a rather bold, if not presumptuous prayer. At the time, I had neither wife, nor even a prospect of a wife, much less the prospect of children.

By God's sweet providence, God has given me both wife and children. I strive to love their mother as Christ loves the church, not only because it delights the Lord, but also because I am keenly aware of the great gift we are giving to our precious children. They do not know the value of our nightly family devotions. They do not know the sweetness of our husband and wife flirtations, and I am delighted to know that our affection for each other will only serve to gross them out as they grow into teens.

One day, I hope to toast my son and his bride to be, and I hope to give away my daughter to a good husband. And I pray, that on that day, my wife will be smiling beside me. I want my son and daughter to seek marriage for the same reason that I want them to seek Christ, and that is, in the sweetness that has been my marriage, my children will have tasted something of God, that they will have grown up close to the warm embrace of the graciousness of Christ in my marriage.

And why do I long for this so greatly? Why do I dream of it and pray for it? Because of only one bitter providence -- that picture of me and my mom and my dad.