Horace Bushnell: Observer of Providence

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The servant who had received the five talents went and put them to work and gained five more. Matthew 25:16

“Be an observer of providence; for God is showing you ever, by the way in which He leads you, whither He means to lead. Study your trials, your talents, the world’s wants, and stand ready to serve God now, in whatever He brings to your hand. Again consult your friends, and especially those who are most in the teaching of God. They know your talents and personal qualifications better, in some respects, than you do yourself. Ask their judgment of you and of the spheres and works to which you are best adapted. Once more, go to God Himself, and ask for the calling of God; for, as certainly as He has a plan or calling for you, He will somehow guide you into it.”

Horace Bushnell (1802-1876) in a sermon entitled, “Every Man’s Life a Plan of God,” in Sermons for the New Life (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1876) 22.

What does it mean to be an observer of providence?

Observers of providence are people who look at the needs around them and what God has supplied to them, and they put to work what they have and depend on God to sustain them.

This requires a beautiful mix of faith and obedience and of stewardship and generosity. Our service follows God’s leading, is fueled by God’s supply, and ministers to the wants around us.

Do you also notice the community layer that comes into view?

Such service is affirmed by those around us who know God deeply and who know us well. I will spend time today with a young man, Nathan Jones, that I have mentored for nearly two decades.

We can’t serve the next generation if we don’t invest time in their lives. Lastly, all this is reinforced by prayer with confirmation from God to be sure that our work aligns with His plan.

Father, make us observers of providence. By your Holy Spirit, show us what to do with what we have so you are glorified by our service. Hear our prayer in the name of Jesus. Amen.