Tuesday, April 03, 2007

A Frowning Providence, A Smiling Face

As I said yesterday, we returned from our holiday in York on Saturday. It's a 5 hour trip (including traffic and a stop for a break), and during that time we took the opportunity to listen to some downloads. Since Colin was driving, I got to choose and we listened to a talk given by John Piper back in 1994 called: "The Chief Design of My Life: Mortification & Universal Holiness - Reflections on the Life and Thought of John Owen." There was so much to take from this lengthy lecture, it's a definite one worth listening to. However, Piper began his talk with some words from William Cowper's hymn, God Moves In a Mysterious Way that have stuck with me over these last few days.

There are many things that have been happening in our family recently, some things that have affected all of us, others that are more personal for either my husband or myself. However, the common lesson that comes to the fore in all these situations are summed up in Cowper's words: "Behind a frowning providence, He hides a smiling face." Without going into detail, we have all experienced the loving discipline of God in our lives, testings and trials and periods of gloom that cloud our days. These words therefore came just at the right time, not only on the back of some big disappointments but more importantly as prior preparation for the days and weeks ahead.

What is really interesting is that this hymn was actually chosen to conclude Colin's sermon on the "Highs and Lows of Discipline" this past Sunday. I did not know this, and Piper certainly did not when he shared them in his talk on John Owen. However, God did. And that's really all I wanted to share today. You may be going through the hardest time right now, but remember, God is working his sovereign will.

Here are the words from William Cowper's hymn. Words written by a man whose life was filled with the lows of depression, and yet they teach us of the highs of knowing and having the security of God's smiling face upon our lives.

God Moves In a Mysterious Way

God moves in a mysterious way,
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up his bright designs,
And works His sovereign will.

Ye fearful saints fresh courage take,
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy, and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the LORD with feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence,
He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flow'r.

Blind unbelief is sure to err,
And scan his work in vain;
GOD is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.

1 comment:

Tina said...

I love the poem. Thank you for sharing this. It's so beautiful for what's going on in my life.