Reality Check

78c372262db9b19678466bab9dd41100_400x400There’s something about reading the entire book of Job. We all get the basics. Job was faithful but encountered  beyond what seems to be a fair share of troubles. He struggled, others got involved and gave him all kinds of advice and explanations, and God didn’t say a whole lot until later in the book. And that’s when the reality check comes in.

Basically, “Um, hello, Job. Can you stop for just a second please? Remember me? God? Let me remind you of a few things. In fact, I’ll just ask you a few questions.”

Who is this who obscures My counsel with ignorant words? Get ready to answer Me like a man; when I question you, you will inform Me. Where were you when I established the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding. Who fixed its dimensions? Certainly you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? What supports its foundations? Or who laid its cornerstone while the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy? Who enclosed the sea behind doors when it burst from the womb, when I made the clouds its garment and thick darkness its blanket, when I determined its boundaries and put its bars and doors in place, when I declared: “You may come this far, but no farther;
your proud waves stop here”? Have you ever in your life commanded the morning or assigned the dawn its place, so it may seize the edges of the earth and shake the wicked out of it? The earth is changed as clay is by a seal; its hills stand out like the folds of a garment.
Light is withheld from the wicked, and the arm raised in violence is broken. Have you traveled to the sources of the sea or walked in the depths of the oceans? Have the gates of death been revealed to you? Have you seen the gates of deep darkness? Have you comprehended the extent of the earth? Tell Me, if you know all this. Where is the road to the home of light? Do you know where darkness lives, so you can lead it back to its border?
Are you familiar with the paths to its home? Don’t you know? You were already born; you have lived so long! Have you entered the place where the snow is stored? Or have you seen the storehouses of hail, which I hold in reserve for times of trouble, for the day of warfare and battle? What road leads to the place where light is dispersed? Where is the source of the east wind that spreads across the earth? Who cuts a channel for the flooding rain
or clears the way for lightning, to bring rain on an uninhabited land, on a desert with no human life, to satisfy the parched wasteland and cause the grass to sprout? Does the rain have a father? Who fathered the drops of dew? Whose womb did the ice come from? Who gave birth to the frost of heaven when water becomes as hard as stone, and the surface of the watery depths is frozen? Can you fasten the chains of the Pleiades or loosen the belt of Orion? Can you bring out the constellations in their season and lead the Bear and her cubs? Do you know the laws of heaven? Can you impose its authority on earth? Can you command the clouds so that a flood of water covers you? Can you send out lightning bolts, and they go? Do they report to you: “Here we are”? Who put wisdom in the heart or gave the mind understanding? Who has the wisdom to number the clouds? Or who can tilt the water jars of heaven when the dust hardens like cast metal and the clods of dirt stick  together? Can you hunt prey for a lioness or satisfy the appetite of young lions when they crouch in their dens and lie in wait within their lairs? Who provides the raven’s food when its young cry out to God and wander about for lack of food? (Job 38)

Go ahead and continue into Job 39 if you want. It’s riddled with more questions. And I always read these questions as directed not just to Job but to me. And not just to me but to people in general. I mean, what are we thinking when we try to understand what God has done, estimate what He will do, and even try to take some of that control away from Him (or refuse He has it in the first place)?

Don’t get me wrong. I think God is okay with our questions. He’s okay with our struggles. Both indicate we’re working through something, that we’re on the journey instead of indifferent.

I never want to be indifferent again. I don’t have all the answers. I have a lot of questions. Yet I am more certain about who God is the closer I get to Him and the more passionate and persistently I pursue Him.

God is God.

Don’t define Him. Let Him define Himself as you seek and get to know Him. He’s worth the journey.

Worship Today: The God I Know

If it is was all about religion, what to do, what to say, what to wear on a Sunday, all about perfection, black and white, wrong or right, never great: well, we’d never make it. I’d never be good enough. I threw my hands up, worries down. I remember when He showed me how to break up with my doubt. Once I was lost, but now I’m found: no strings attached when He saved my soul. I want you to know the God I know. 

Stop and Consider God’s Wonders

283028It’s a reminder from Job 37:14: Stop and consider God’s wonders.

It is both a direction and challenge for us. It takes humility and boldness, pause and involvement, the ability to identify God’s wonders and the willingness to be grateful for them. It’s a similar motivation to keeping a blessings journal. It goes beyond looking at life with a positive appreciation and delving into what God and only God can be and do. His wonders don’t always feel warm and wonderful, because we stand in awe of His power, fierceness, and justice. Those are part of His wonder, too. We can’t twist God’s wonders to be only those things that we find amazingly wonderful. He defines amazing, and He fills wonder. We particularly find it when we’re willing to empty ourselves of what we want to see as wonder. We find it when we’re willing to stop…and consider.

Stop and consider. Both present challenges that we’re not willing to accept because of the sacrifices they involve. Both are worth the wonder we’ll encounter because of our sacrifice, because of who God is.

 

As Dark As Things Seem…

hope-light-in-darknessFor His eyes watch over a man’s ways, and He observes all his steps. There is no darkness, no deep darkness, where evildoers can hide themselves. (Job 34:29-30)

I find this comforting. Not in a “you better watch out, because God is going to get you” kind of claim to any “evildoer” out there. It comforts me because nothing escapes God. Nothing can eclipse His light. Nothing can go unnoticed or overlooked. His light and truth permeates it all. Nothing I see, say, think, or consider. Nothing I see someone else do or think they might consider doing. Nothing I hear about, nothing I don’t hear about. Nothing.

As dark as any situation, person, action seems, it cannot be deep enough to escape the reach of God’s light. His light reaches the depths to redeem sometimes, and at other times, it simply sheds enough light to let others see the truth of evil trying to live and thrive in darkness. Sometimes, God requires us to shine His light into the darkness, facing what we might fear to acknowledge the truth, lessening the sting, and keeping it in proper perspective.

Our eyes adjust to the darkness or the light with which we surround ourselves.

We Miss Out

maxresdefaultFor God speaks time and again, but a person may not notice it. (Job 33:14)

We miss out because we’re not attentive to the right things at the right times. We get distracted. Perhaps we haven’t really gotten focused yet at all, at least, not on the right things. We think we know best. We think we know what to expect, including from God. We over-think and over-control, or we over-doubt and over-disconnect. We don’t want to be disappointed, so we try to structure our lives the way we think will keep us the safest…or the most successful or acknowledged or whatever is a priority to us.

All the while, we miss out on God’s encouragement, teaching, admonishment, and truth, because we don’t notice Him. We’re not attentive enough. We don’t know Him well enough.

But we can.

The Search for Wisdom

got-wisdomThe search for wisdom is a grand search. It is elusive and satisfying, frustrating and fulfilling, uncertain and hopeful.

But where can wisdom be found, and where is understanding located?
No man can know its value, since it cannot be found in the land of the living.
The ocean depths say, “It’s not in me,” while the sea declares, “I don’t have it.”
Gold cannot be exchanged for it, and silver cannot be weighed out for its price.
Wisdom cannot be valued in the gold of Ophir, in precious onyx or sapphire.
Gold and glass do not compare with it, and articles of fine gold cannot be exchanged for it.
Coral and quartz are not worth mentioning. The price of wisdom is beyond pearls.
Topaz from Cush cannot compare with it, and it cannot be valued in pure gold.

Where then does wisdom come from, and where is understanding located?
It is hidden from the eyes of every living thing and concealed from the birds of the sky.
Abaddon and Death say, “We have heard news of it with our ears.”
But God understands the way to wisdom, and He knows its location.
For He looks to the ends of the earth and sees everything under the heavens.
When God fixed the weight of the wind and limited the water by measure,
when He established a limit for the rain and a path for the lightning,
He considered wisdom and evaluated it; He established it and examined it.
He said to mankind, “The fear of the Lord is this: wisdom.
And to turn from evil is understanding.” (Job 28:12-28)

When We Don’t Like Our Friends

right-or-wrongLook, my eyes have seen all this; my ears have heard and understood it.
Everything you know, I also know; I am not inferior to you.
Yet I prefer to speak to the Almighty and argue my case before God.
But you coat the truth with lies; you are all worthless doctors.
If only you would shut up and let that be your wisdom! (Job 13:1-5)

Sometimes our friends say things we don’t like. (Sometimes other people do, too, but it’s easier to dismiss people we’re not close to.) We value friendship, but we don’t always like the truth that comes with it. Sometimes, our friends are flat out wrong or their motivation to “help” us is misguided. But sometimes, they give us a dose of truth, and while it might be intended to be loving, it feels anything but.

We lash out. We defend ourselves. We attack the very ones we feel attacked by, no matter what their intentions were in the first place.

When we don’t like what friends say, we sometimes turn on them. But is there a hint of truth in what they’re saying? What damage will we do to the friendship with our lashing out, and is it worth the cost? Do we play the blame game and walk away, claiming with friends like these, who needs enemies? Do we put on the coat of self-righteousness, claiming our perspective is the truthful one, as if only one of us can have truth on our side?

What if we took a deep breath and maybe even a time out before we responded?

The next verse in Job says, “Hear now my argument, and listen to my defense.” (Job 13:6) Isn’t that the main issue? We want to be listened to, heard. We want to be able to express ourselves in real ways. It’s difficult, because it makes us vulnerable, but vulnerability is a small price to pay compared to being unknown and misunderstood.

When we don’t like what our friends have to say, we can respond with humility and trust that God knows us well, just as He knows our friends well–better than we can possibly know each other. We can trust Him. After all, it’s not as much about the verdict of who is right and who is wrong; it’s trusting God to be right and knowing we can be right together when we seek and follow Him well…together.