Friday, April 13, 2007

Providence and Pits

If you've read Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, you know that God's providence is the dominant theme throughout the book. It keeps Robinson sane as he ticks the days away on his makeshift calendar, his chances of rescue ever dwindling. Since God has control of everything, he reasons, there is no need to fear the island. Rather than cursing God for allowing his fate to turn for the worse, Robinson embraces the blessings God has given him, the most important of which is the ripped portion of the Bible he reads daily.

"Providence" is an old-fashioned word, a remnant from 18th-century speech. Theologians in those days threw it around quite often because it aptly described their God-centered view of world events. To them, God has everything under control, even our sin and rebellion. Providence encompasses much more than provision; it is the fulfillment of Romans 8:28 and beyond, the actualization of the fact that God is working on behalf of those who love him, at every second keeping the world from falling into complete decay.
A few weeks ago, Katy and I took a day-trip to Providence Canyon state park. Although the "Little Grand Canyon" is miles away from any of Georgia's major cities, it's a popular escape for those in Columbus and Albany who want get outside the concrete enclosure of city life. Katy and I walked the park's three-mile loop trail, which took us from the visitor's center down to the bottom of the canyon, then back up and around the rim, giving us some breathtaking views of the vibrantly colored topographical anomaly.

It was a beautiful Saturday, and Friday's rains moistened the red clay of the canyon's floor. We pranced between the puddles, our shoes squishing with each step. We had a picnic in the shadow of red, brown, and white cliffs, each with a unique mineral composition reflected in their appearance. As we trudged on, between the photo-ops and the scenic overlooks, I began to learn some lessons from a park whose name reminded me of the caring hands of the God we serve.

Providence Canyon was not made by God. It is the result of poor farming practices in the mid-1800s, when irrigation drains went awry, causing the soft soil to quickly erode. Despite farmers' efforts to keep the erosion in check, the sandy hills continually melted away, leaving the canyon as a deep scar, a reminder of farming errors in the region. But somehow this human blunder produced the landscape that attracts scores of visitors every year. What once was a mark of failure is now considered a thing of beauty.

This sounds strikingly similar to what God, in his providence, does for our hearts. He takes our perpetual mistakes, the trespasses of the flesh and constant erosion of our will, and turns us into testaments of his goodness and beauty. Our hearts, once filled with the scars of the past, now radiate with his love. As in the canyon's case, people should marvel at the transformation.

On another level, the canyon reminded me of the imminent change in my relationship with Katy. We're going to the real Grand Canyon for our honeymoon, and I can't even imagine how much more breathtaking it will be than this little human mishap. If I'm at all right, marriage relates to dating in the same way Arizona's canyon dwarfs the LGC. While dating has been beautiful, marriage will be the real thing, deeper and more majestic than either of us could have imagined. And just like the earth, God will have us in his hands.


katy said...

love it. miss you.

Joseph Davis said...

love it. miss you

Joseph Davis said...

Why the heck are do my comments not show up on your blog. They keep dissapearing after I write them.