Reading Paul's litany of God's faithfulness to God's people reminds me how good God is at giving us what we need, and when we need it. Not what we want, when we want it.
From patriarchs like Abraham and Moses, through judges and kings, to a Messiah...with some prophets thrown in along the way to spice things up...to apostles and missionaries and even persecutors and benefactors (such as the elector who protected my ancestor Martin Luther), and on through the parents, teachers, pastors and saints who transmit faith to us today, God has established a true apostolic succession, and unbroken chain of witnesses sent out from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth. When Israel needed wisdom God sent judges, and when the people needed to be reminded of God's desire for them, prophets brought a word from the Lord. When I need to go deeper God sends a spiritual director; when I need company on the journey God provides a community. Providence, just in time.
I'm in DC for the TransFORM gathering of missional practitioners. I have been wrestling with the weight of the institutional church of late. Now I am about to be in prayer and conversation with kindred spirits, fellow travelers on the road outside the box. coincidence? I think not.
This is how we know God goes before us, even when we can't see a pillar of fire: We get exactly what we need. Just in time.