My last blog post was about fear and how it is an enemy to God’s creation. When I hit the “publish” button, I had no idea there was a bit of providence trapped in those words.

Providence. Christians use that word as a synonym for fate, coincidence, or even karma: “Providence brought my husband and me together.” “It was providence that I ran into you.” “Providence gave him the election.” Just as I sometimes use hope incorrectly, I tend use providence as if it applies to the outcome of a situation. That’s not quite right.

The Latin root that gives us the word providence also gives us prudence. As God provides for us, He does so in a wise and deliberate way. His providence is in the careful planning He does to create His desired result, not in the result itself. Here’s an example:

Shortly after I left my writing-rock last week, I took a wrong turn. An hour into my hike “back to my car,” I realized I was going the wrong direction. I also realized I had about 30 minutes before a major storm was going to hit. I was lost, without mobile-phone service, without a trail map (stupid!), and in an area prone to flash flooding. And then I heard a rattlesnake. Seriously.

I had two options: turn back or move forward. These were both literal and figurative options. Was I going to retreat into my fear, or claim the very words I’d just written and trust God to get me out of this (and teach me a lesson about the importance of trail maps)? I moved forward.

About 10 minutes and 1 mile later (I was bookin’ it!), I reached a trail head–the wrong trail head. As I was staring at the park map trying to decide if I had time to make it back to my car before the storm hit, a man walked up to me. Not a bartender-boy, but a 45-year-old muscular man. He asked, “May I give you a ride to your car?” Every word of my blog–and every big-city-girl instinct screaming “run!”–came rushing back. But He continued, “Weren’t you behind us as we entered the park this morning?” Yes! I was! He and I had tried to figure out how to pay $7 to enter the park when there was no attendant there. I had even griped to him about how high Colorado taxes are! After 4 hours of hiking, I didn’t recognized him.

“You’re wearing a Hilton Head t-shirt. I’m going to trust you.” That made sense in my head, but what a stupid thing to say! He laughed and told me he was there with his wife and 2 daughters. What followed was a sweet 4 minutes of conversation with his family as he took me to my car. It was storming before I pulled out of the parking lot.

So where was the providence in my journey? Was it providence that I was dry when I climbed in my SUV, or was providence present throughout my day? If you have the time, go back and read my last post in light of this one. God was preparing me to see Him when I was stuck in a VERY messy situation of my own making. Not only did He take care of me, but He let me see just a bit of His plan and a bit of His face. The beauty of the cavern is nothing compared to Him.

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