By Elizabeth Prata
When I was in my pre-teens, a book called Jonathan Livingston Seagull by philosopher-author Richard Bach was huge. It was his first, and it was a major seller. (1970). Everyone was carrying that paperback around. I don’t recommend the book, it’s all about higher planes, self-actualization, and man’s efforts at self-perfection in order to live a happy life. Now you know why it was such a major seller! lol.
Bach followed up with The Bridge Across Forever. I was older then, in my early 20s, and I read it avidly. The entire book was Bach’s ruminations of finding his soulmate. Now this was getting interesting! My husband at the time had just left for another woman. I was heartbroken. I was unsaved then. I very much wanted to be in love and be married. I, too, wondered how to find my soulmate. Where was he? How, in this huge, big, crazy world was I going to find him? I was just one measly person. How does this all work?
In the book, Bach, a pilot, described his vision of the difficulty in finding ‘the one’. As he barnstormed, he looked down to the pastures below and envisions lighted, curving, criss-crossing pathways all over the earth. His soulmate was on one of those paths. He didn’t know which one. He despaired of ever finding her, the difficulty was so great and the ask seemingly impossible. He wondered if there was an ‘engine’ that the right path light up so he could follow it.
I was entranced by this. It sounded right. I also shared in his desperation. Where was MY soulmate? How is my life supposed to work? Is there an ‘engine’?
I used to vacation once a year for a week at the Florida shore. It was a relief to get away and I used the time one particular year ponder these things that Bach wrote about. To pass the time I stopped at a dollar store and bought a pack of index cards, and a kids’ dot paint set. I am not a painter, but I set a goal of trying. My mind gets in the way of hand work so I put my mind in neutral and tried to make a painting on each of the index cards as fast as possible. I wanted my hands to work before my mind could mess it up, lol. I did OK. It was fun. Here are some of them:
And this one- notice the upside down seagull. Oops.
I kept the pack of index cards I’d painted and stored them with my keepsakes. A few years went by. I still thought about how the world works. How does everything mesh together? How do spouses find each other? Why did Richard Bach get divorced if he’d found his soulmate? Is there any rhyme or reason to life?
THEN! Jesus saved my soul! I was saved by grace through faith. I began understanding about Providence. The lighted paths and byways Bach had intuited are real. God in His majesty orchestrates all man’s activities for His holy purposes. History’s byways and paths might seem to us to be criss-crossing chaotically, but they each had a purpose in God’s hand. To Him, they were orderly and perfect and precise.
PROVIDENCE: God’s faithful and effective care and guidance of everything which He has made toward the end which He has chosen. ~Holman Bible Dictionary
GOD KNEW. When I made the little index card painting, He knew that 15 years later, I’d be putting a Bible verse on it and sharing with my Christian friends.
I could not see that pathway because I’m at ground level. I would NEVER have guessed that the moment in Florida in 1999 would return to criss-cross in 2017 where I’d rediscover that little painting, but now with a completely new worldview as a completely new creature. I can’t see over the horizon. God can and He does. He providentially guided me on my little path toward the cross and beyond.
PROVIDENCE: The continuing and often unseen activity of God in sustaining his universe, providing for the needs of every creature, and preparing for the completion of his eternal purposes. Dictionary of Bible Themes
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28).
Holding that little card in my hand as the paint dried, I didn’t know that there are answers to the issues I’d wondered about. The Answer, capital A, is Jesus. Answers to everything else are in the Bible, either explicitly or implicitly. It is a comfort to know God is in control. I can relax knowing that all the pathways crisscrossing each other on earth have a reason to be, they are not chaotic, haphazard, or futile.
Sister, if you are wondering about God’s plan, why we’re here, what is the use of it all, study His doctrine of providence. The Romans verse is prime exhibit A for it. Psalm 104 is all about His providential majesty.
Psalm 103:19 is about providence. (The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, And His sovereignty rules over all.)
Here is Martyn Lloyd Jones on the Doctrine of Providence:
I go on about this because I think it is comforting to know that God has you in His hand, His calling upon you is irrevocable, and that He is working all things out in a perfectly orderly way. We don’t know what is ahead from day to day, but He does. He’s got this! And He’s got you, too. 🙂