Part VI: Providence

This final segment of the series, chronicling the ten-year anniversary of the “From The Ground Up” project, looks at Fidelity Homes from the perspective of providence.


Providence is an interesting term in the English language. Mostly used as a noun, there are also variants used as the other parts of speech. As a noun, it can be either proper or common; there are towns, colleges, ships, and churches with Providence in their names. The inclusion of the word providence in proper nouns aside, it can also denote ideas as diverse as caution, discretion, fate, fortune, and foresight – ideas that are largely secular.

The more pertinent idea for David Hunihan and Todd Menke is the one that connotes divine care and direction. For them, providence is the foreseeing care and guidance that the Creator of the universe exercises over the affairs of that universe and the lives of the people He created to inhabit it. The name Fidelity Homes – as Bill Lurz, then the senior editor at Professional Builder in charge of the “From The Ground Up” series, noted – was chosen because it denotes the desired state of being faithful. Given the vision and dream that it was, the name of David’s and Todd’s start-up homebuilding company could have, just as appropriately, been Providence Homes.

That dream – that vision – did not turn out the way David and Todd intended. This retrospective series on Escape from Averageness® has discussed the factors and circumstances in-play, David’s and Todd’s resolve in dealing with the outcome, the business lessons learned in all of it, and the enduring value of true friendships. For David and Todd, it is about leaving a legacy.

From a grammatical point-of-view, this has been a discussion written in third person, both singular and plural.

Now, it is more first person plural.

We – folks like David, Todd, and me – long to see the handprint of Providence in our lives, but not merely for the obvious reason of needing to ensure for ourselves the outcome of a safe, comfortable, personally-satisfying life, or wanting to avoid responsibility for outcomes. Providence is important, because we need evidence that our lives count for more than personal success over whatever the period of our lifetimes are. That desire pulls us towards something more, pulls us towards something deeper, towards something transcendent.

“After Fidelity closed, I went to work for a company for three months before taking my current position”, David said, recalling what he considers to be a blessing in all of this. “I met a man there who described himself as an atheist. I developed a friendship with him, started meeting with him once a week to discuss the Bible, and within a year, he accepted Christ. That may never have happened had Fidelity not failed; at least, I wouldn’t have been part of it.”

Circumstance is a part of life.

The point of providence is not that God would only engineer good circumstances or would prevent all bad circumstances. It is that – regardless of the particular circumstances – He uses those circumstances to work His will for our lives, and to demonstrate His love, grace, and mercy towards us. Although it foresees, providence is not fate. God’s active involvement in our affairs is not always completely clear, and, therefore, involves faith – in His divine intentions, in the attributes of His divine character.

Was Fidelity Homes a failure? Clearly, there was disappointment in the outcome. What are we to make of it? Did God simply not care about this particular set of circumstances? He couldn’t have been bothered with anything so trivial? Was He powerless to prevent it? Was He playing favorites? In any event, should David and Todd have just shrugged, and drawn the conclusion that – when it came to making the choices and the decisions that affected the outcome with Fidelity – they were really on their own? And – many years from now – would they have been left to wonder if that’s all there is? Are we on our own? Is this all there is for us, whatever we can manage out of life?

Fidelity is not the only casualty of this recession. It has affected all of us. This housing recession has been the source of unprecedented frustration, bordering on despair, encompassing anger.

We all have circumstances. Such is life.

We make a mistake when we focus on our particular circumstances, rather than focusing on God’s immutable character.

God fully knows – He fully understands – our circumstances. He knows our disappointment, when outcomes are not what we want them to be, not what we expect them to be, not what we presume them to be, not what we counted on them to be. The attributes of His character certainly give Him control over our circumstances. At the same time, it is precisely those attributes that allow us to trust Him in outcomes – often determined by the circumstances – that we would never choose to face.

Our circumstances – good or bad, easy or difficult, successful or unsuccessful (in terms of their outcome) – do not control anything. They do not determine our lasting value. They do not alter the love of God for us and towards us; they do not change His grace or His mercy. Our circumstances do not change His purpose in our lives.

Our circumstances do not change anything that lasts.