While our world has been all tumultuous chaos this year, I have been reading through Divine Providence with some friends. Throughout the book, I have been reminded of the STEADINESS of our Savior. The steadiness of Him and of His purpose. Below I am sharing one of my new favorite comfort passages: Divine Providence 332.2-4. I hope you enjoy! And I pray you have a blessed New Year!
Simply consider a fruit tree. It is first born from a tiny seed as a tender sprout, is it not, and gradually grows after that into a sapling and spreads its branches, and these become covered with leaves, until it puts forth flowers and bears fruit, and in them places new seeds by which it provides for its perpetuation.
The same is the case with every bush and with every herb of the field. Do not each and all of the constituents in them proceed from first end to last end constantly and marvelously according to the laws of their order? Why not the primary end likewise, which is a heaven from the human race? Can there be anything in its progress which does not proceed constantly according to the laws of Divine providence?
Since a person’s life has a correspondence with the growth of a tree, let us draw a parallel or comparison. A person’s early childhood is comparatively like the tender sprout of a tree shooting up from its seed out of the earth. A person’s later childhood and adolescence are like the same sprout growing into a sapling and its little branches. The natural truths with which every person is first equipped are like the leaves which cover the sapling’s branches (leaves have just this symbolic meaning in the Word). A person’s initial introductions into the marriage of goodness and truth, or spiritual marriage, are like the flowers which the tree produces in the spring. Spiritual truths are the petals of those flowers. The first stages of the spiritual marriage are like the beginnings of the fruit. Spiritual goods – the goods of charity – are like the fruits themselves (they are also symbolized by fruits in the Word). The propagations of wisdom from love are like the seeds, as a result of which propagations a person becomes like a garden or paradise. A person is also described by a tree in the Word, and his wisdom from love by a garden. Nothing else is symbolically meant by the Garden of Eden.
A person is, indeed, owing to his seed a bad tree, but still possible is an engrafting or insertion of shoots taken from the tree of life, which turn the sap drawn from the old root into a sap producing good fruits.
We draw this comparison to make it known that, since the progress of Divine providence is so constant in the growth and rebirth of trees, it must be utterly constant in the reformation and rebirth or regeneration of people, who are of much more value than trees, in keeping with these words of the Lord,
Are not five sparrows sold for two small coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than… sparrows… .
Moreover, which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? If you then are not able to do the least, why are you anxious for the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow?. (That) if … God so clothes the grass in the field, which today is and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will He clothe you, O you people of little faith? Luke 12:6-7, 25-28
“The merely natural person says to himself, “What is Divine providence? Has it any reality, or is it any more than a term used by the common people, having heard it from a priest? Who sees anything of it? Is it not prudence, wisdom, cunning and malice that accomplish everything in the world? All other happenings, then, are they not inevitabilities and consequences? And are not many of them also chance occurrences? Does Divine providence lie hidden within them? How can it be present in scams and swindles? And yet people say that Divine providence is responsible for everything.
“Cause me to see it, therefore, and I will believe it. Can anyone believe in it prior to that?”
So speaks the merely natural person. But the spiritual person speaks otherwise. Because the spiritual person acknowledges God, he also acknowledges Divine providence, and moreover sees it. However, he cannot show it to anyone who thinks only within the realm of nature in terms of nature. For such a one cannot elevate his mind above nature and see in its appearances anything of Divine providence, or form conclusions about it from its laws, which also are laws of Divine wisdom. If he were to clearly see it, therefore, he would introduce nature into it and so not only envelop it in misconceptions but also profane it; and instead of acknowledging it, he would deny it. And one who at heart denies Divine providence, also denies God.
Continue reading Divine Providence 182
Have you ever noticed that while Christmas is issued in by weeks and
weeks of preparation and anticipation, Easter comes and goes in a
It is curious to me
that New Church culture has adopted the Old Christian season of
Advent, but has ignored the season of preparation for Easter: Lent.
In the earliest years of my marriage, my husband was a proper ‘bah humbug’ when it came to Christmas. After much discussion (and references to Scrooge) I realized that my husband was frustrated with the out-of-proportion prominence that Christmas received in our culture when compared to Passover. All that fuss to commemorate the Lord’s arrival on earth but hardly a glance at the stories that explain what He actually did when He came here. My husband had a point. Rather than depriving Christmas of all its merriment and pageantry, over the years we have looked for ways to make Easter, or ‘Passover’ as many cultures call it, more special and exciting for our children. We take two weeks off of school. We give large and numerous gifts which we hide for the kids to hunt for on Easter morning. We have a fantastic feast complete with an unusual dessert– we set up a miniature mossy world tablescape where candy bugs and chocolate birdies hide. We even have an Easter story representation. In short, we have tried to add to Easter versions of many of the celebratory components of Christmas.
But the Passover story is decidedly different in tone from the Christmas story. There is a seriousness to the Easter story that the celebration of the Lord’s birth just doesn’t have. And merriment and gift-giving can’t fully capture. And that is where the observance of self-sacrifice during the Lenten season has been valuable for us.
Each year we choose some luxury we will give up as a family for the period of Lent. The idea is that whenever we desire that luxury we will stop and think about the Lord Jesus Christ and the sacrifices He made for us. This year we are giving up ‘recreational screens’–no more movies or video games.
There is, of course,
no magic in sacrificing during Lent. The real value in the Lenten
season is not the giving-up in itself but in the preparation and
anticipation for Easter. The season need not be one solely of
sacrifice—we also grow flowers to give at Easter Sunday church and
create special decorations. Yet I’ve found that marking the season
with a little self-sacrifice matches the tone of the Easter story and
the Lord’s sacrifice and love for us. And through choosing to give
up something as a part of Easter preparation, we hope to instill in
our family a different kind of Christian spirit than the ‘spirit of
giving’ which we foster at Christmas time. Another angle to being
A few weeks ago I
got confused and told the boys that Lent began on Feb 12th. When I
realized my mistake and let them know that Lent didn’t, in fact,
begin for two more weeks, the littlest ones were relieved (Yay! Put
Wild Kratts back on!) but one of my elder sons was curiously upset.
He was disappointed, he admitted to me, he had worked hard to prepare
himself for the Lenten season and was ready to make the sacrifices to
remember the Lord…and now he had to wait.
That was an incredibly precious moment for me!