Acts 17:16-34

“Books don’t change people, paragraphs do—sometimes sentences.”

I remember reading that quote from John Piper some time ago and thinking, “That seems a little hyperbolic, but whatever.”

And then I ran face-first into Acts 17:26:

“And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place…”

For context, Paul is addressing some of the “men of Athens” (v. 22), some of which believed that if some sort of divine being even existed at all, he certainly wasn’t interested in human affairs. Paul confronts their enlightened philosophy with the revelation of the God who is not merely interested in human affairs but actually sovereignly superintends them.

Stop and think about what Paul is saying. No, seriously. Go read verse 26 again. God, the Creator of all things who rules over all things (v. 24) has sovereignly determined where you would be and when you would be there. That is a sentence—actually only a fragment of a sentence—that can change you.

Why are you where you are? Because for whatever reason, even if it’s unknown to you, it’s exactly where God wants you. Your neighborhood. Your job. Your church. And sometimes those places that are not so neat and tidy. The hospital room. The court room. The unemployment line.

I won’t pretend that the “allotted periods and the boundaries of [our] dwelling place[s]” are always enjoyable or even understandable, but if we really believe that “for those who love God all things work together for good” (Romans 8:28), we can trust that whatever places and spaces we find ourselves in are part of God’s good providence in our lives.

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