Randy Imel. Tammy McKinney. Dr. Joseph Ferrara. Cathy Lee. Charles Coil. Gerald Watts. Dr. Bill Bagents. Daniel Boone Lee. Harold Jones. Joe Tate.
If you know the narrative of Joseph, you know the providence of God. God had promised Abraham that through his seed the Messiah would come, but a great famine was coming – without divine action, God’s promise cannot be fulfilled; the seed of Abraham will starve to death. Jacob dotes far too much on Joseph (kinda like his momma did on him and his papa did on his twin), and Jacob’s over-the-top favoritism puts Joseph in a bad place with his brothers. When Joseph goes to check on his brothers (Joseph must have been too good to work – he’s not with his brothers working out in the field with the sheep), the soon-to-be patriarchs have had enough of his special coat and his dreams of greatness and they sell Joseph to vagabonds who in turn sell him to Potiphar. The handsome servant becomes the object of Mrs. Potiphar’s lust, and Joseph – running out of the house to flee immorality – ends up accused of sexual immorality because of the coat he left behind. In prison Joseph befriends both Pharaoh’s cupbearer and baker, and Joseph interprets dreams both of them had: the baker was hanged – according to Joseph’s interpretation – and the cupbearer was restored to his position with the king of Egypt – according to Joseph’s interpretation. Joseph asked the cupbearer to plead his case before Pharaoh, but the cupbearer, restored to his position, forgets Joseph until the king himself has dreams. Pharaoh learns from Joseph’s interpretation that seven years of great bounty will precede seven years of famine. Joseph suggested building storehouses in which to house one-fifth of the produce in order that starvation might not hit the land. When the famine occurred, Joseph’s brothers came and stood before their elevated brother and received grain. After a series of visits, Joseph reveals himself to his brothers and the family eventually moves to Egypt. The promised Messiah can come through the lineage of Abraham just as God had promised.
Someone will rightfully notice that God in His mighty power could have saved the lineage of Abraham any way He chose – after all, He is God. John the Baptizer, as you recall, told the Pharisees and Sadducees that God could raise up children of Abraham from stones. God’s ability to preserve a faithful remnant is not in question; the question is HOW did God save Abraham’s seed – through His divine providence.
I firmly believe God’s providence is alive and well today – after all, I have seen His hand work in my life over and over and over. As I thank God (a little more sporadically than I had intended) for His bountiful and good gifts, I would be greatly remiss if I failed to honor and thank Him for His divine providence. The names with which I started this post are people whom, I firmly believe, God has placed in my life for a special purpose. Let me tell you about them.
- Daniel Boone LeeDaniel Boone Lee and his wife, Carma (neé Adams), were my great-grandparents. I never met my great-grandfather (and I think I have a fuzzy memory or two of my great-grandmother), but they were both baptized into Christ many years ago. In fact, my great-grandfather helped build the church building in which a congregation still meets. I, through that lineage, am a fourth-generation member of the body of Christ.
- Randy and Cathy (neé Lee) ImelRandy and Cathy Imel (Mom and Dad to me) have meant a great deal over the years. They have loved me. They have guided me. They have taught me. Only through the grace of God and His providence did I have the two wonderful Christians parents I do.
- International Bible CollegeI was very interested in attending another Christian university, but that university was more expensive than IBC. I often wonder how my life would have been different had I attended that other school; I do believe divine providence led me to IBC over that other fine institution. I was blessed beyond measure to know some fine Christian people, either to learn from them or to study alongside of them: Charles Coil, Joey Dixon, Basil Overton, Brian Reagan, Dr. Jim Smeal, Steve McCall, Kippy Myers, Dennis Hudgins, David Underwood, Dr. Bill Bagents, Curtis Gilbert, and many others. I learned and grew so much during those four years: I learned academically, I learned through mentoring, and I learned from my fellow students.
- Main Street church of ChristI had planned to move to Canada after graduation and work with a friend to plant a congregation of God’s people an hour or so north of Montreal – that fell through because of financial reasons, and I ended up accepting a position with the Main Street church of Christ in Pikeville, Kentucky. Talk about life changing providence! It’s there I met my bride, one of the greatest blessings God has ever given me. I will always believe that God led me to Main Street to meet Tammy, and you will never convince me otherwise.
- Harold JonesHarold, about whom I wrote a few days ago, gave me a shot to do pulpit work for the first time in my life. Harold was patient; Harold was loving; Harold valued my work. Harold gave me the room necessary to grow in my relationship with God and as a minister of the Gospel.
- Gerald WattsAgain, I wrote about Gerald a few days ago, but Gerald blessed my life by serving as a mentor. I firmly believe that God led me to Gerald so that he could help me continue my growth.
- Joe TateJoe has blessed me over and over in the past few years. I have seen him shepherd a congregation of God’s people – not simply make decisions in a backroom somewhere, but Joe genuinely cared for the flock and shepherded in a marvelous fashion. Working close with Joe helped me love people more, for Joe had that love. Joe helped me love the Word all the more, for he loves God’s Word with his entire being. Joe has stood by my side during the past several months of painful neurological issues and the realization I needed to get out of full-time ministry at least for a while (and prayerfully only for a little while).
- Joseph Ferrara, M.D.Dr. Ferrara is the first neurologist I’ve seen who was dedicated to helping me – others were more interested in treating me as a guinea pig (you’d better believe every doctor must know explain to me exactly why s/he is ordering a test; no more blindly following a doctor). We can’t be absolutely certain in my exact kind of dystonia (we’re awaiting my genetic testing around the first of March). Dr. Ferrara is currently pushing the insurance company to pe-authorize Botox injections; Dr. Ferrara isn’t sure the Botox will work, but it’s better to try something than to do nothing. If the Botox does not work, we will seek pre-authorization from the insurance company for deep brain stimulation surgery. Did God bring me to Roanoke so that I could find a doctor knowledgeable and capable of treating my condition? I think it’s highly possible.
The interesting thing about God’s providence is that I can never say with absolute certainty that any event – good or bad – is part of God’s providential care. Prophecy (speaking for God) died with the apostolic age; therefore, no one receives direct communication from God to say, “This was God’s providence.” Yet, as I look back over my life, I see God’s hand guiding me, and I’m thankful. As I hold God’s hand, I know that He’ll walk with me in the future as He has walked with me in the past.