“It is a law of the Divine providence that people should be led and taught by the Lord from heaven by means of the Word and by means of doctrine and preaching from the Word, and this to all appearance as if by themselves.” Divine Providence #154
Occasionally you hear people complain about the way God runs the universe. Could we do it any better? Imagine that you were God and had the care of just one person. You realize that to leave the person you are watching over in freedom, they must not be consciously aware of your existence. As God, you want to lead and teach that person. How would you do it?
Let’s take the two tasks separately. You realize that the leading would have to be done very carefully, so gently that the person does not notice it. When we want our children to behave, we talk to them, give them orders, make conditions, threaten them, set up consequences for their actions, and so on. But as God you would not be allowed to use any of those human means. What you would have instead is the ability to flow into the heart of the person, activating various feelings and desires. You want the person to eat, so you provide an appetite for food. You want them to learn, so you create curiosity, and a thirst for knowledge. You want them to care for their children, and so you plant a love for children in their hearts. So long as you work through these appetites and affections, you can lead them without their realizing it.
Suppose they followed other appetites, such as the desire for revenge. What would you do then? You would have to teach them the difference between right and wrong. But how can you teach if you are not allowed to make your presence known? You would need to have messengers, and prophets. You would need to be able to communicate indirectly through written revelation.
Of course people can read the Bible without understanding it. They can also read it and twist its meaning to suit their own ends. Just providing the Bible is not enough. It is one thing to read the Word of God. It is another thing to understand it. And this is where another divine power comes in, namely the ability to turn a light on inside a person’s mind.
This explains how it is that we can be reading the Word at times, and not getting much out of it. At another time we might find ourselves reading the very same passages, and finding them full of meaning. Some people study a part of Scripture, and find that it doesn’t make sense to them. Later they might hear a discussion or a sermon on the same text, and experience that internal sight. A light goes on inside them. They might even say: “Oh, now I see.” That internal sight does not come from the preacher, or the people who are talking. It is a gift from the Lord who has the power to enlighten the mind.
Obviously if we are to be led and taught by the Lord, we need to cooperate. We can respond to the desire to do the right thing that glows inside our heart. We could ponder and reflect on the meaning of life. We search for an understanding of the Lord’s will. In all of this, God is leading and teaching us – leading by flowing into our loves and teaching by enlightening our minds. And in all of this it seems to us as if we are making our own choices. It appears that it was our own idea to search for the truth. The reality is that we are being led and taught.
The Lord has promised that those who seek Him will find Him, especially as they read the pages of the Word with enlightenment. Those who take on this search are not only helping themselves. They are also benefitting others, and bringing light and warmth into the world.
—Rev. Frank Rose, Former Pastor of Sunrise Chapel, Tucson, AZ