Although the price of the sparrow is small, and its flight seems giddy and at random, yet it does not fall to the ground, nor alight anywhere without your Father. His all-wise providence hath before appointed what bough it shall perch upon; what grains it shall pick up; where it shall lodge and where it shall build; on what it shall live and where it shall die. Every raindrop and every snowflake which falls from the cloud, every insect which moves, every plant which grows, every grain of dust which floats in the air has had certain definite causes and will have certain definite effects. Each is a link in the chain of events and many of the great events of history have turned on these apparently insignificant things.
Although, in relation to the foreknowledge and decree of God, the first Cause, all things come to pass immutably, and infallibly; yet, by the same providence, he ordereth them to fall out, according to the nature of second causes, either necessarily, freely, or contingently.
– Westminster Confession 5.2
In the early morning hours of today, 24 July 2016, two Phoenix Police patrol officers from nearby Desert Horizon Precinct entered an area posting NO TRESPASS signs. For reason none can explain they each felt compelled to investigate, though they had been familiar with this property in the past and rode by it many times before. It so happened that this very day they traveled with a Glendale Arizona firefighter. The Phoenix Police Department has a program called Ride-A-Long whereas a citizen or anyone else for that matter can, as the name implies, ride along. It is not unusual for sister-cities and other government agencies to seize the opportunity to further relationships, and on this occasion they rode with a trained medic.
The threesome came upon a body lying motionless on the ground. The lead officer attempted to awaken the man, even prodding him with his flashlight. The man would not respond. The Glendale firefighter checked vital signs and found his pulse and heart rate so faint that she surmised he was near death. Timing was crucial, for at any time the man would be gone. They rushed him to the hospital where it was determined he had overdosed on heroin. The emergency staff administered a sufficient dose of Narcan™, a drug which blocks the effects of opioids and thus reverses the overdose. Typically one measure of Narcan™ is effective (I am told), but in this instance multiple doses were required. I did not learn if the man made it or not; nonetheless the police officers and medic saved, and if not saved, prolonged the man’s life.
How is it that the police officers and medic were (extraordinarily) together on this very night, at this precise moment, and felt compelled to investigate the exact property (a place they never bothered before now), the spot where this man lay near death?
As we walked to our vehicles, I asked the officers if they were religious or not. Sheepishly, they both admitted they believed in God. I do not mind their hesitation in answering such a peculiar question. In this day and age government employees are required by the politically-correct age in which we live to avoid such GodTalk; in fact, GodTalk is frowned upon in a setting such as this – unless, of course, “god” means Mother Nature or Chance or Karma. Never mind this vain and silly and chit-chat about The Lord of the Universe who decrees all things that come to pass and thus governs the world by His sheer will and power and at His pleasure. To set the officers at ease I shared that I was a committed Christian, specifically of the Presbyterian variety which believe in divine providence. I insisted that it was God Himself who sent them to help that man. Both officers agreed with my assessment, albeit perhaps to be accommodating – though I do not know them well enough to be sure.
To be certain, the drug addict himself was to blame for his dire condition. But the God of the Bible brings rain and sun on both the godly and ungodly alike; in this instance He chose to send police officers in a time of need. The Lord sometimes provides means and grace to rescue such a person from their predicament, whether or not the “ministers” (police officers and medics) or the drug addict give credit to God.
I do not speculate on what God’s plan is for the drug addict. He is not required to provide details and I am not the least bit curious about these things. But I do know that throughout the whole course of events such as the aforementioned there is progress and plan toward a predetermined end. As the late great Benjamin Warfield wrote:
It was not accident that brought Rebecca to the well to welcome Abraham’s servant (Genesis 24), or that sent Joseph into Egypt (Genesis 45:8; 50:20: ‘God meant it for good’), or guided Pharaoh’s daughter to the ark among the flags (Exodus 2), or that, later, directed the millstone that crushed Abimelech’s head (Judges 9:53) or winged the arrow shot at a venture to smite the king in the joints of the armor (I Kings 22:34). Every historical event is rather treated as an item in the orderly carrying out of an underlying Divine purpose; and the historian is continually aware of the presence in history of Him who gives even to the lightning a charge to strike the mark (Job 36:32).