Monday, July 11, 2011

Amazing Providence

I take Saturdays as my day off. I know that many pastors have a day off on Monday to recover from the labours of the Lord's Day. But I have a wife and two teenage children, so I like to take Saturday off to spend time with the family. We live about 10/15 minutes drive away from Longleat Safari Park. Every other year we buy Passport Tickets that enable us to visit the attraction as many times as we like during the season. A month or so ago we drove round the Safari Park and saw the lions and tigers etc. One rainy Saturday we had a look round Longleat House. Amongst other things the house has on display the blood-spattered top worn by Charles I when he was beheaded. The blood of the "Man of Blood". Last weekend we had a wander around the Hedge Maze. 

The maze is a rather large affair, covering around 1.5 acres and it is easy to get lost in all its bends and twists. Each member of the family took it in turns to take the lead, but we couldn't find our way to the viewing tower that dominates the maze - and the exit. At one point we just kept going round and round in circles. Frustratingly, every way we turned we kept coming back to exactly the same spot. Then I had a flash of inspiration, or rather I remembered something that an old friend told me. He said that the maze is set out so that if you consistently turn to either the left or right (I won't tell you which), then you'll make it to the viewing tower and find the way out. 

We managed to get back to the starting point and tried out my scheme. Even if turning left (or right as the case may be) didn't seem like the right thing to do, that's what we did. And we made it. The photo above was taken from the highest platform of the viewing tower. When we were lost, the maze seemed totally random and utterly confusing. We could see no rhyme or reason to it. But there was a plan. It did make sense. My friend advised me well. From the perspective of the viewing tower it was perfectly clear. Just keep on turning left, or was it right and you're home. 

Why am I telling you all this? Well, as we were wandering round the maze, I began thinking about how life can sometimes seem rather confusing, full of dead ends and seemingly meaningless twists and turns. Things don't always pan out as we expect and we might be tempted to wonder whether there is any purpose to life all. But God has a plan. Through what may appear to us the random maze of this life, he is working his purpose out. A hymn came to mind. It was David Charles' wonderful meditation on the providence of God, especially the final verse, 

Great providence of heaven -
What wonders shine
In its profound display
Of God's design:
It guards the dust of earth,
Commands the hosts above,
Fulfils the mighty plan
Of his great love

The kingdoms of this world
Lie in its hand;
See how they rise or fall
At its command
Through sorrow and distress,
Tempestuous storms that rage,
God's kingdom yet endures
From age to age.

Its darkness dense is but
A radiant light;
Its oft-perplexing ways
Are ordered right.
Soon all its winding paths
Will end, and then the tale
Of wonder shall be told
Beyond the veil.
David Charles, 1762-1834


Jonathan Hunt said...

Amen and Amen. It seems Cheltenham is getting a triple dose of exiled preaching this year. See you in Oct (I hope to keep attending the Bible Rallies)

Guy Davies said...

Suckers for punishment.