Photo: Cannon Beach Northern Oregon. Under Copyright Laws Below

By: M. Charlotte Oliver

My life thus far has not been like eating a sweet piece of cake covered with messy and deliberate icing. The things I have done, to include the ones that have brought me great sorrow, the countries I have seen, the intimate friends I hold on to, coming to grips that emotional abuse is not what makes a realistic and healthy marriage. And, having the courage to leave this type of marriage. The vulnerable conversations. The idea that scolding my daughter does not mean deprivation (even though in her current years, she may still believe it means that!). And so, on the topic of scolding, I briefly consider Eli in 1 Samuel 2:12-25 concerning his tame response to the behaviors of his two sons. Even though it is later revealed that God had other plans for Eli’s sons, it is still believed that Eli should have been stronger in his response to his son’s abuses. If man (representing women too) sins against each other, God knows. But if a man sins against the Lord, we must gently entreat for God. The son’s sinned against Heavenly Father, and Eli did not beseech for the grace and majesty of Him who is God. Although I’d like to go deeper here, this is not the area of reflection placed on my heart this week . Therefore, I continue.

Last week my mailbox was filled with the significance of my quiet fortitude. Some components I have worked very hard to receive. Elements showing more resolve that only I could have the will, with the grace of God, to do. Some items I never expected but appeared anyway! The mailbox was so full; the clerk brought me an overflow of goodies she stored on shelves. On my drive back to the home office, I started with the thoughts that I didn’t deserve some of what I received, for these things came in the sense that I was just me! Right then, I stopped to think of everything God has afforded me with, through his grace alone. And, despite my struggles, failures, wins, and unwarranted thoughts at times, He still gave, and He still gives. Manifestations of His eternal glory.

I am not a Calvinist in the real meaning of the word; however, I dabble so often in many books from so long ago. Based on the formal writing of these times, I must always make sure I have a cup of black tea or coffee before I begin and during my explorations of these types of studies. It also helps that it is customary that most of my brethren refer to each other in archaic English as Thee. We use this language to remember our faith, which began on the foundation of true Christian meaning. A faith rooted in the Imago Dei, present in everyone. Therefore, as I thought of God’s providence in my life, I searched John Calvin’s The Institutes of Christian Religion, published in 1536. This text is simply called Institutes today. I thank the teachings of elders and for R.C. Sproul’s lasting presentations, which showcases many Calvinist thoughts, among other significant authors of the old.

In Institutes, I reread this concerning God’s providence.

                First, then, let the reader remember that the providence

                we mean is not one by which the Deity (God), sitting idly in

                heaven, looks down at what is taking place in the world,

                but one by which He, as it were, holds the helm, and overrules

                all events. Hence His providence extends not less to the hand

                than to the eye. That is to say, He not only sees, but ordains 

      what He wills be done. (175)

The supporting verse I’ve chosen here is Matthew 6:10.

God wills! Even though some may beg to differ, the prayer Jesus taught His disciples to pray says explicitly this. Almost everything I’ve mentioned in the eight lines of the first paragraph of this reflection were/are the wills of God. Even my ability to recognize my wrongs. Events, perceptions, and deliverances, not of my creation, only possible through heavenly Thee, God. Nothing transpired without His divine wisdom leading to results. 

I’ve had no one else to set the cement of steppingstones and to make sure they were solid enough to proceed on. No trails to follow or tails to cling to. Just me and God! I do marvel, though, at those who had/have steppingstones set for them, who today, move to the beat of a different drum while creating their personal Christian legacies. As I sit silently to watch, to listen, I find these approaches remarkably inspirational! And, I praise God for the truth which comes from these presenters.

But before I move to the concluding thoughts of this week’s reflection, I also converse on the word religion used in the name of Calvin’s text above. Religion is a word not welcomed in some modern churches today. Some, likewise contend that Biblical correction is overly religious or Pharisaical. But is it? A few of many verses on why I become confused based on these positions are, Matthew 16:11-12; Acts 17:10-12 specifically vs. 11; 2 Timothy 4:3-4. Even so, I have learned to use the word religion, responsibly, in the sense that I embrace it, as Scougal (1677) described:         

“Again, religion may be designed by the name of life, because

It is an inward, free, and self-moving principle: and those who have

made progress in it, are not actuated only by external motives, driven

merely by threatenings, bribed by promises, nor constrained by laws; but

are powerfully inclined to that which is good, and delight in the

performance of it.” (pg. 3)

Religion as life. A life, which is good, filled with grace alone, of faith alone, through Christ alone. Jesus Christ, He who did the work for all of us!

The history-making of my life, has had significant ups and significant lows. Yet, I know that I continue to step forward with only Him in me and the emotional support systems He provides to me at all times. Nonetheless, I must be the one to step out. To step up. To deliver. I move to the course of the world I share with Jesus my holy love, and alas, His holy spirit who wills me to be solely dependent on the knowledge Heavenly Father readily gives and not necessarily on people or externalities. Because of the greatness and significance of His words, life is often tackled in different ways by His great family. The prodigal (of grand scale) themes of God’s Bible afford every one of us, His children, to design each, as He intended to be, based on our distinctions and circumstances. Yet, to never change or sway their meanings.

I leave you with this:

Remember, in most cases, new friendships/relationships move at the pace of trust—trust in the process, trust in hearts, trust in the idea that any method is an evaluative connection of intimacy, in hope, and the enhancement of both personal and spiritual growth. 

Let’s trust God’s grace alone! In such, there are great possibilities of what just can become. 



Calvin, J. (1536, 2011). The Institutes of Christian Religion. Westminster John Knox

Scougal, H. (1677, 1986). The life of God in the soul of man. GLH Publishing.