Begin the Journey

God, I am angry with you.  You let me go through a horrific ordeal.  I prayed and prayed and prayed that the madness would stop.  Every morning, for years, I woke up wondering what evil would befall me.  There seemed to be no end to the torment.

People told me to find joy in the little things, but honestly, I couldn’t.  My whole world was crashing around me.  Everything I thought I knew was up for questioning.  Breathing became an act of my determination as my mind was willing to let the idea of living pass away.  I despaired of life.  I didn’t want to see the lovely anymore because I knew that all too soon it was passing away from me–out of reach.

God, it was horrible!  Were You not watching?  What were You thinking as I spiraled into a world of hopelessness and bewilderment?  Where were You?

I watched something happen though, that even now causes me to think.  I saw choices.  I saw human choices.  Those who could have helped stop the madness but chose not to.  Those who reached out for me to give me comfort and hope (even though I flatly rejected it), were many.  My rejections of hope’s offerings were choices.  My choices.

These thoughts bring me back to something I learned, “all men are given a gift of a free will to choose.”

But wait, I didn’t choose pain and suffering.  That was thrust upon me.  I didn’t ask to walk a long dark road with no end in sight.  That was not my choice!

Yet, even now, I am standing on the other side of that pain.  The long dark road gradually gave way to a light that warmed me back to life.  I am still alive.  I am still me, only much has been chipped away, and much is in need of rebuilding.  I’m still here–still here with choices to be made.

I read Your story about You and Job.  Job didn’t really seem to stand a chance.  But You said something that really got my attention.  You said to Satan,“Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason.” (Job 2:3).  You spoke highly of Job.  You believed in Job.  You had faith in him even though he was going to struggle to have faith in himself.  Do you hold faith for us even when we give it up?

Later in that story, You ask Job a lot of questions.  You ask him if he knows how the foundations of the world were laid.  (You know, we are still arguing over that question today.  Our science books are riddled with theories.) You ask Job if he knows who gives the morning it’s orders as to when it should begin and when the day is over.  God, You might as well have been asking questions of astrophysics, or quantum order.  Fifty+ or so questions later about darkness, light, snow storehouses, seasons, animals, and life in general, you leave Job speechless. (Job 38-40)

Job just wanted to know what the heck happened to his family, and why was he being tormented so ruthlessly.  He did nothing to deserve it.  Why did You ask him all of those big questions?

Okay, so You are God and we are not.  Your ways are not our ways.  That becomes clear enough in life.  But why the riddles?

Wait a minute…in the glow of the light that warmed me back to life I see something…if I drop my angry accusations for a minute, I get a glimpse of something…

Job wanted to answers for his pain.  He, like me wants to make sense of it before he can fully grasp Your hand, God.  Are you saying something in all of Your questions?  Are you proving to Job and to me that there are millions of mysteries in the universe that I do not have conclusive answers for?  Are you exposing my lack of knowledge for what it really is?

For years (40) to be exact, I have laid my head on a pillow to sleep at night never worrying if the sun would forget to come up in the morning.  Never in my seasons of stress and anxiety has the culprit ever been my concern for where the raven would get its food, or if the stars would stay fixed in their place in the heavens.  I have “trusted” for all of these things.  Why did I trust?  Well, there was nothing I could do about these things.  (It would seem that You were taking care of all of this.)  They carried on without me (with a precise order, beauty, and rationality).

The truth is, if I want to admit it, You have ordered the universe with such beauty, design, purpose, and faithfulness that I cannot escape the fact that my whole being and sense of  “life” derives itself from the peace Your handiwork affords me.  Are You saying that I don’t have to have conclusive answers in order to grasp Your hand?  Are You showing me that You are trustworthy in all of these things that sustain my life, and can be trusted with this pain that feels life shattering?  Can You bring order and beauty out of this too?

I guess it comes back to choices.  I have free will to choose to trust You or to choose to fight You for the rest of my life.  I’m reminded  of the lyrics from the song Rich Mullins wrote:  “I’d rather fight You for something I don’t really want, than to take what You give that I need.” (Hold Me Jesus)  I’m tired of fighting You, God.

What good will it do me to spend my life as Your judge?  What benefit is there in refusing to reach for You when You are the only hope there is in life? You are the only One who has promised that You will make all things new again.  Your plan doesn’t end with my pain, but continues with my redemption into eternity. (And not just mine, but the whole world).

Would You help me surrender?  Would You speak Your hope over me?  Would You hold me Jesus?

I become the product of my choices, but You redeem my choices and bring beauty from ashes.  Will You begin that work in me even now?

 

My thanks to Ravi Zacharias’ book “Cries of the Heart” for walking me through my pain in view of God’s goodness.  His chapters on the story of Job forever changed my view of God and helped me drop my defenses and let God into my wounded places.
Also my thanks to the late Rich Mullins whose words still challenge my heart, and draw me to God.

Trust

I read through the book of Job with new eyes after experiencing a season in my life of great losses.  The story unfolded as an intimate conversation between God and His created son, Job.  I, like Job, have asked God so many questions.  Most of them started with “why?”  I was comforted to see that God allowed Job to ask those questions, and even more so when I saw how God responded to Job.  God tells Job in Job 38:3 to brace himself like a man because it was now God’s turn to ask questions.  God’s questions throughout chapter 38 delved into the secrets of the universe, the order of nature, —things out of Job’s scope of understanding.  Was God putting Job in his place?  Yes, and no.

Dennis Jernigan defines worship this way: “He is God, I am not”.  Certainly Job understood this truth as God questioned him, but if you look closely, you will see something else.  God was also beginning to reveal to Job the things Job had no answers for– millions of things that God had under His control.  Could this same God who ordered the universe with such precision and beauty be trusted to order Job’s life?  Could Job trust Him to make sense and beauty out of his brokenness?  What about you and me?  Can we trust Him with the things we have no answers for?

This same God who laid the foundations of the earth, set the boundaries for the oceans and its tides, hung the stars, and “Holds all things together by the Word of His Power” (Hebrews 1:3) is holding you and me.  Does He know about the economy?  Does He know about your disease?  Does He know about your past?  Yes!  Does He care?  Yes!  And as faithfully as the seasons come in their order, and the planets revolve around the sun, God faithfully continues crafting your life and mine making “all things work together for our good” (Romans 8:28). 

Love Him.  Worship Him. Trust Him.  He will never fail!

Recommended reading:  “Cries of the Heart” by Ravi Zacharias