Disciple!: The books you’ve written have generally been born out of rather intensive personal study of the Scriptures about a particular topic (holiness, trusting God, community, etc.). How did this particular book evolve?
JERRY BRIDGES: Originally, this was simply going to be for my family. I wanted to leave something behind for my grandchildren so that they would know what made Grandpa tick. But some folks at NavPress thought it could be helpful for a broader audience.
D!: Even though this book is more personal and anecdotal, you still included a chapter entitled The Biblical Foundation. Why?
JB: I wanted people to understand how God’s providence had worked in my life. A lot of my life isn’t particularly unusual, but God is still in control of that. That’s what I’d call God’s “common” grace. But there are times when God has led in unusual ways. It’s when I “hear the inaudible voice” of God. But both of these kinds of leading are deeply rooted in the Scriptures—in what God’s Word has recorded.
D!: The subtitle for your book is A Story of God’s Unusual Providence. In what way was God’s providence in your life unusual?
JB: That subtitle refers to those “unusual” occasions where God’s providential leading was obvious. I explain how God led me in certain “out-of-the-ordinary” ways.
D!: You refer to “the sixty-five-year journey of being led by God’s hand.” Can you give us a glimpse into one way your understanding of—and perhaps response to—God’s providence changed over that period of time?
JB: To be honest, there were many times when I didn’t see the connection between my life and God’s providence. One day I read in the book of Ruth, “ . . . she happened to glean in Boaz’s field . . .” The light went on for me. What seemed like happenstance was an event under God’s control. I started seeing that in my life. God’s providence is always present. I fly a lot. Planes are late a lot. I used to get agitated at the “inept mechanics that should be doing their job better.” Now God enables me to see that—even if the mechanics are inept—God is still in control of the situation.
D!: In your opinion, what are some of the most common misconception about God’s providence, sovereignty, or leading we have?
JB: We tend to look at—and focus on—the secondary causes for events. We look at a delayed flight and think, “Some mechanic goofed.” We get upset at the mechanic. We don’t see God’s hand in all of it. God allowed that goof. We focus on what we see rather than on God’s purposes.
D!: Throughout the book you refer to Scriptural promises that gave you comfort and direction in life. Why were those promises so important?
JB: There are general promises such as, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” from Hebrews 13:5. That’s my “go-to” promise for everyday life. There are also specific promises such as the one God gave me from Psalm 116:7 about finding a wife. And there are specific promises God gives all of us that have to do with His Kingdom—promises that haven’t yet been fulfilled.
D!: You write, “Humanly speaking, I certainly was not a candidate to be someone used by God as has happened.” It almost seems as if God surprised you with the way He led you. Does God still surprise you today?
JB: [Laughing] Yes, but maybe not in the way you’d expect! The physical and health challenges I experience these days are a bit of a surprise. I simply can’t do some things anymore. But I can acknowledge that this, too, is part of God’s plan. I just have to adjust my ministry around that!