Providence and Birthdays

  • Nathan Schneider

Today, I’m taking a much-needed rest from my normal blog rhythm. I know…I’m blogging about how I’m not blogging today. It’s the 21st century. It doesn’t have to make sense. Thank you post-modernism!

In reality, I’m in Southern California at the moment for some ministry meetings and training, so I’m taking the opportunity to rest from the weightier writing I normally [attempt] to produce. As it so happens, this little trip happens to coincide with my youngest son’s first birthday…well, apart from the one where he was actually born. That is to say, today Thatcher turns one year old, and of all the days I find myself away. I think this is the first birthday I’ve missed for any of my kids.

At the same time, if there’s one thing that calms my heart, it’s the knowledge of the providence of God. And if he could understand me right now, I don’t know all that I would say to Thatcher, but I know that I’d want him to begin to build a concept of that providence as well. It’s providence that reminds me that God is big; and I want my son to have a big view of God. It’s providence that relates God’s transcendent sovereignty and rulership of the universe with his tender, imminent, loving care and involvement in each one of our lives; I want my son to see God as Master and as intimate Father. It’s providence that gives meaning to each circumstance in life, that doesn’t accept coincidence but recognizes sovereign guidance; I want my son to understand that all of life, even the seemingly insignificant moments, is infused with divinely-directed meaning. It’s the providence of God that calms my fears and anxiety, and builds humility and trust, because I know that what’s out of my hands is not out of his; I want my son to build a life that trusts that sovereignty even when things get hard.

That’s not all I would say to little Thatcher, but that’s what I would want him to know. I’d want him to know that the convictions he builds now about God are going to shape him and define him for the rest of his life. So be wise with what you fill your mind with. The world and the culture wants you to believe in a frightfully small and impotent God. They don’t mind you believing in him, as long as he doesn’t pose a threat to anything or anyone. But that’s not our God. Our God is a dangerous God. Our God is a loving God. Our God is a wrathful God. Our God is a self-sacrificing God. Our God is in complete control. That’s just the God you need. And guess what? That’s the only God there is.

Happy Birthday, Thatcher. And don’t worry if you don’t understand anything I just said. By God’s providence, we’ll work on it, a little bit at a time. God’s too big to get it all in one sitting. Now go and smear your face with cake. You deserve it.