During the dead-locked Constitutional Convention in the summer of 1787, Benjamin Franklin had this to say:
"The longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth:
‘that God governs in the affairs of men.’ And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?"
Whilst hiking up Masada, I got to chatting with some fellow sojourners: a local Israeli girl and her Dad. It came up I was a Christian, and the girl was immediately intrigued by this, asking me questions. (the girls’ Dad, who seemed to be an atheist, was annoyed at his daughter for her questions)
One question she asked me was regarding prayer, “When I need help – say I’m looking for a parking spot in my car – I pray to God, but do you pray to Jesus?”
I tried explaining to her I believe in only one God, the Creator God, same as her. Yet I also believe God incarnated himself into a human: the man Jesus.
What struck me most about that question though was her mentioning praying for a parking spot. While that may be an appropriate prayer, it comes across (at face value) as just turning to God like a genie when we need a favor.
But the question arises, DOES God intervene and intercede in every day events? Perhaps even in the example of a parking spot?
I’ve been hitch-hiking around Israel with my Polish friend, and he will refer to “luck” or “chance” as factors in us getting a ride. I told him I don’t believe in luck.
“So what do you believe in, Destiny?”
“No,” I tell him, “Providence.”
Which, admittedly, I define as a mixture of chance and Godly intervention. I don’t believe God intervenes every time (though he could), but rather when He wishes. The rest of the time he lets thing take their natural course.
Does this really happen? Does God really intervene in the lives of men? I think so. Let me share a quick story.
It was Friday after work three weekends ago and I wanted to go to Tel-Aviv to visit a church in Jaffa (that met the next morning on Saturday).
I was planning to leave the Kibbutz by bus after lunch, but while eating lunch someone informed me the last bus to Tel-Aviv was right THEN!
There WAS a later bus out of Nir-Oz, but it could only take me to Be’er Sheva (wrong way), not Tel Aviv, because bus lines were shutting down for Shabbat on longer distance trips.
Later… back in my room in the volunteer house I had an inner debate over what to do. Should I try hitch-hiking to Tel-Aviv by myself? I didn’t want to hitch-hike alone (though others here do it and it seems to work fine).
So I prayed and asked God what I should do. I remember asking Him, and then suddenly the issue seemed quite clear: “I should go” because it was important I meet other Israeli believers, and God would watch out for me.
Having made that executive decision, I was getting ready to leave when a fellow volunteer (my British compatriot) walked up and said, “Hey! I hear you’re planning to go to Tel-Aviv and missed the bus – I was going to too, but also missed the bus. Do you want to hitch-hike together?”
Aha! This was a relief – I wouldn’t have to hitch-hike alone.
But the story doesn’t end there…. so the two of us caught the last bus out of Nir Oz and got off a few miles down the road at a nearby hitchhiking junction.
Walking up to the junction, Danny put his hand up and (I kid you not) the FIRST car pulled over. I haven’t hitch-hiked a whole lot, but that was the first time I’ve gotten a ride so quickly. (for comparison, during this past weekend I caught a total of ten rides, each one I had to wait wait from about 10 to 45 minutes)
But back to the story (it’s not over yet). We asked the Good Samaritan where she was going and guess what she said? Yep, Tel-Aviv. How about that?
(after an hour ride, she actually dropped us off just South of Tel-Aviv as she was going to a suburb, but we were able to catch a taxi in for the last bit without trouble)
What’s also interesting is that this lady told us she usually never picks up hitch-hikers, but since she was in the boonies and right by a Kibbutz, she decided to pick us up figuring we were probably from the Kibbutz and safe.
So that’s the story, and of course it could easily be explained as coincidence, chance, luck, what have you, and maybe it was (I have no way of proving otherwise).
But personally, I choose to believe some Providence was at work.
Especially in light of how my time with the folks at the Jaffa assembly was so productive. It was there I found out about the Christian Retreat happening the next weekend. And it was at the Christian Retreat I met believers from a nearby church to Nir-Oz (where I was invited to come and even offered free translation services) and also invited to attend a local Bible study in Be’er Sheva (which I’ve done).