In Kevin Sullivan’s wonderful production of “Anne of Green Gables”, there was a scene when Marilla attempted to bring Anne back to Mrs. Spencer, the woman who arranged Anne’s adoption. Remember, Marilla wanted a boy and as she was dropping off Anne, Mrs. Spencer explained that the multiparous Mrs. Blewett was in need of a caregiver for her many children, at which point, Mrs. Blewett entered the scene. Mrs. Spencer exclaimed in delight that this was “positively providential”. Positively providential for Mrs. Blewett, but painfully providential for Anne had not Marilla, in her good and kind foresight, withdrawn her decision to return Anne.
Many times in my life, I’ve had “positively providential “ moments. One of my favorite “positively providential” moments was at Simpson College in San Francisco, California. I took two of Dr. Wallmark’s classes, “Literature of the New Testament” and “Life & Teachings of Christ”. Dr. Wallmark was such a great teacher, often, he would get choked up on the great truths of the life of Christ or a passage of Paul’s. It was like church every class. I think it was in the latter class that I wrote a final paper titled “Elijah During New Testament Times”. I had a lot of fun researching for this paper. I went to the Jewish Library in San Francisco often looking for primary source materials. I asked Dr. Wallmark what books may shed light on the understanding of who Elijah was and his role in Messianic literature during the New Testament times, he replied that Raphael Patai’s “The Messiah Texts” was the book to get.
I was a library nerd back then too. I scoured various library book indices looking for Patai’s book. Could not find it. No Amazon back in the ’80’s. One day, at Simpson’s library, one of my favorite hangouts, I was at the counter checking out other books. There, near the checkout, was Raphael Patai’s “The Messiah Texts”. Whaaaat!!!
You’ve had those moments, chills run through your body. I trembled when I asked the librarian, if that book was free to check out. She was puzzled, she said it was not even a library book. Really? Perhaps someone lost it. She said she didn’t know who’s it was, there was no name in it, and I could have it if I want it. No way!! I said sure. (I still have it.)
Was Dr. Wallmark around the corner chuckling? I’ll ask him when I get to heaven. I went on to get an A- (reduced to B+ because it was late) on the paper, with a great comment from Dr. Wallmark, “this would make a great masters topic”.
Not all providences are positive when they first appear. Many times in my life, I’ve had “positively providential” moments even in the midst of some painful and difficult circumstances. Dr. McGee just finished the book of Esther. Providentially, Esther is raised up to be Queen in the nick of time to save her people, much like Joseph did in Egypt. Even what seems to be a painfully providential situation, it can become positive. My buddy, John Forbes, just posted this Oswald Chambers quote on Facebook:
Behold, He is coming with clouds… Rev. 1:7
In the Bible clouds are always associated with God. Clouds are the sorrows, sufferings, or providential circumstances, within or without our personal lives, which actually seem to contradict the sovereignty of God. Yet it is through these very clouds that the Spirit of God is teaching us how to walk by faith. If there were never any clouds in our lives, we would have no faith.
“The clouds are the dust of His feet” (Nahum 1:3).
One of those cloudy times, a very lean and tough time when the income had stopped for a while, we were blessed with one of our favorite providences. During that time, one of the kids kept the radio on KFRC. She will remain nameless since she doesn’t like to be ID’ed in my blogs. During that time, KFRC had a radio contest where you had to identify five songs from like three notes. Each attempt to win only made the pot larger until it was well over $5,000.00. My nameless child listened diligently, and learned the names of all the songs. Then one day, it was time to call in. You had to be the 20th caller. She was under age, so I did the calling. I got through, and was the 20th caller. I recited the five song titles. Pause. And the excited deejay exclaimed, “You won”. Everyone was screaming. Over $5,000.00. At a time when we desperately needed money. I gave the nameless child more than $300.00 and used the rest to catch up on the mortgage and pay the bills. Positively providential even in the midst a difficult time. I will pay her the full five someday
Another time, ten years ago, we moved from the East Bay to the Peninsula. After problems with my ex-husband and other dangerous situations, it was unanimous to leave the area out of safety for my kids. So I moved to my parents’ house with 8 of my kids. From the frying pan to the fire, I’ve always said.
How did this painful providence become positive? Well, some elements stayed painful, the close quarters, the disagreements with my father, the financial straits, etc. However, as I look back, it was a positively providential move. Before we moved, my father offered to pay all my living expenses in the East Bay until I got on my feet. That was the plan before things got bad.
Did I know, did my dad know, did anyone know that the bottom of the economy was going to drop out in three short months in September 2008? God knew. So despite all the painful elements of this circumstance, God put me and my kids in a place where we were safe and taken care of. He also provided a nice Christian school and a generous family member to situate my kids in a warm, nurturing school environment. I’d say that was “positively providential”.
Julian of Norwich said, “but all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.” Solomon wrote in Proverbs, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” In spite the tough times I’ve lived through, I have witnessed many wonderful and positively providential occurrences. I’ve learned to trust in the Lord, even when times are dark and cloudy, and to give Him the opportunity “to work all things together for good“.