aI have always appreciated God’s response to Samuel in this passage. “I do the choosing,” God tells the prophet. Jesus makes essentially the same point in the New Testament when he says, “You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you…”

Not randomly chosen, but with a real plan. “I have appointed and placed and purposefully planted you,” the Amplified Bible reads, “so that you would go and bear fruit and keep on bearing, and that your fruit will remain and be lasting” (John 5:16).

This all makes a lot more sense when we come to grips with the fact that we are created beings, that our lives are powerful, meaningful, living, breathing witnesses to God’s intention in Creation. I don’t know about you, but when I think about the fact that I am ‘purposefully planted’ then I need to know more of the story; I need to know the God who planted me and then I need to align myself with God’s purposes.

This is the idea that we understand as ‘providence’ – it’s nothing like the fatalism that some religions espouse. God creates, God purposes, God chooses, God gifts, God loves. God sees into the heart. Then, if we pay attention and if we are willing to follow Jesus, we respond positively to God’s initiatives of design and grace.

When we put these two elements together – God’s purpose and our obedience – then that is a most powerful place to be, that is the definition of providence.

God sees into the heart – all the way in, not just what we keep up close on the surface. I pray that we all nurture our relationship with God, that we listen, that we love, and that we respond in gratitude and joy, and that we live the good news of the Gospel of Love.

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Derek Maul has written for many news outlets, including the Tampa Tribune, The United Methodist News Service, All Pro Dad, FOCUS Magazine, Newsweek, USA Today, The Christian Science Monitor, Presbyterians Today, Guideposts, Chicken Soup for the Soul and many other publications. Read Derek Maul’s daily blog posts at