Satan was chatting it up with God one day??? What is this??? And then God points out this fellow named Job and next thing you know He is letting Satan test the poor man with enough onslaught of sudden and overwhelming disasters that it boggles the mind. And God continues to weigh the character of the man and is assured he will come through with his faith in tact.
Before I can even wrap my mind about this whole scenario, I am hit up with the visits and advice and interjections of Job’s friends, which I have heard some sermons and teachings on and even though I know from these that the friends could all have taken some courses in how to love and support someone in times of crisis, I still see large chunks of truth in their comments.
As I approach the book yet another year scratching my head and praying for insight and understanding through the Holy Spirit in me to teach me from this book, I pause to notice a few things.
First is a great clearing up of a major misconception for Christ followers, or at least this Christ follower.
Living for God and serving Him wholeheartedly is absolutely no guarantee for a life of ease and what we would call “blessings” here on planet earth.
Here is the description of Job from The Message:
“Job was a man who lived in Uz. He was honest inside and out, a man of his word, who was totally devoted to God and hated evil with a passion. He had seven sons and three daughter. He was also very wealthy …the most influential man in all the East!”
Job 1: 1-3 The Message, Eugene Peterson
He was also an involved and concerned parent. Quite honestly, a rarity in most of the figures of the Bible as we see that godly kings and priests often failed to raise godly children.
And yet, God allowed all that was of earthly blessing to be stripped away from him, and not in a long progression like most of our trials come, but fell swoop.
I wince a little when I read this description and then the trials that follow because it flies in the face of a little false teaching that was somehow planted and fostered early in my faith walk. It went like this…if you just do everything right and follow God and honor Him, then everything will go well for you and you will be happy.
It is the false teaching that when things do get lost and destroyed drives us to ask the assumption that either we failed to dot some I or cross some T, or God is unfair and has gone afoul of some promise that we assumed He had made to us.
It makes us wonder if He is a trickster or if we didn’t read the fine print well or we waste our time hashing over our track record to see where it was exactly we dropped the ball that brought this unwanted penalty.
So I look at Job and I marvel.
Because on the day where he lost all his wealth and all of his children, all the material and physical things that represented God’s provision and blessing, it says he stood up and did the things that expressed the deepest of grief in his culture. He ripped his robe, he shaved his head and then he fell to the ground and worshiped.
Yes he grieved but then he worshiped.
That is who we are.
We read the Bible to learn who God is and who we are.
We are people who live out this mystery that is life on planet earth with moments of great joy and prosperity and we live with moments when all that is precious to us is ripped from our hands and we feel like we have been sucker punched to the point of no recovery.
And like Job we realize that both extremes and all the moments in between are smoke and vapor. We suddenly remember that like the words of psalmists in Scripture and bards of secular music through the ages, life here is very temporary.
Which makes us look to God because we are wired for eternity.
And while the scene in the Throne Room leaves me with questions that I am thankful I am allowed by His Sovereign grace to ask, I have read the end of this curious book called Job and I know that God, when He has His say, will put us in our place and remind us who He is.
And who He is is awesome and powerful beyond our understanding. His grace and mercy and kindness are without measure and thus His authority over us can be trusted even when it cannot be understood or explained.
And who He is is God who knows well our human frailties and our faults and our shortcomings and yet is cheering us on when He knows we have given our hearts towards loving and following Him no matter what.
And so we, like Job, in joy and in grief, are left with one obvious choice … to bow down in any and all season and worship Him who alone is worthy of glory and honor and praise <3
So it seems another month has passed and when I looked back to the end of April, beginning of May post I realized I totally didn’t report on my stack of reading that I shared at the end of March.
Then I checked our calendar where I keep a list of books finished for the year and noticed that I didn’t complete any in April…ahh…that explains a lot.
So as a refresher, here was the March stack (which some of you noted to be a rather eclectic mix…and that would be my life…eclectic to the nth degree)
I did read a few of these in addition to an extra thrown in for a book club. If you are fan or just curious about the Enneagram, we read “The Path Between Us” by Suzanne Stabile.
In this book, Stabile discusses the various numbers in relation to the other numbers. I, being a relational peace-keeper, loved it. I am all about understanding what makes other people tick so that I can hopefully care for them and get along with them and not drive them too crazy with my own wiring.
As for the others that I did finish in the stack, here is my little book report.
This is me, driving the golf cart and reading whilst on vacation in April.
What a difference to read about the life of Elisabeth Elliot as you rest in the beauty of the Ozarks.
This biography of her early life with her own family, education, following God’s calling on her life, courtship with Jim and short marriage, his tragic death and her life following that is nothing short of incredible.
I cannot possibly summarize for you how much I respect her and learned about true discipleship from this book.
I also cannot express how surprised I was by who she was. I had formed a viewpoint of her character and integrity from a few quotes and the general background I had of her, but she was a woman ahead of her time in many ways.
She had a clear-eyed perspective on some of the parts of the institution of the Church that is refreshing while having a private devotional life that was deeply introspective and raw.
Because the author had access to her private journals, we are given a glimpse of what it is to love Jesus with all our hearts and yet live in the reality of what following Him costs.
I am also convinced Elisabeth was a Four on the Enneagram and I felt a kindred spirit with her for that <3
Her husband being brutally murdered was not the first time she lost something precious. Early in her ministry before she married Jim, she spent countless hours doing linguistic work translating with a friend from the Colorado people in Ecuador. She worked with him painstakingly learning the language.
This man was shot and killed at point blank range near her hut and a short time later, all the notes, journals and work she had poured into were lost in a friend’s luggage.
“For the rest of her life, Betty remember the sad losses of 1953; they would presage other, more terrible deaths for her. But she began to learn the mystery and secret of her ancient faith..it was not about outcomes, inspiring results, personal fulfillment, or even coherent answers. It was about obedience to the One whose stone she carried.”
Becoming Elisabeth Elliot, Ellen Vaughn; B&H Publishing Group, 2020, page 112
I highly recommend this book for both men and women and for young people who love Jesus, but haven’t realized yet what it means to count the cost of following hard after Him. I would actually like to read it again as I feel I missed much the first time.
After that intensity, I decided to read The Hobbit.
Doesn’t this little bit of Woodland charm remind you of something out of such a world as J.R.R. Tolkien might have drawn for us with his pen and pad?
I loved this book.
I thoroughly enjoyed all of The Lord of Rings trilogy movies, and am quite certain the cinematography helped me fill in some of the details, but honestly the author’s words painted pictures that were such a delight.
While the battle scenes in the films still make my heart palpitate at unhealthy extremes, the reading of them was much more manageable for my overactive emotions.
Since fiction can be a problem for me as I can move quickly into a story and have it overtake and become my reality, I limited myself to fifty pages a night. It was the perfect dose of entertainment for me and I loved the characters and the story…all of it.
I am definitely considering finishing with the rest of the series this summer.
So what about the other books and new additions?
Well, I am still working my way through White Fragility. As you can see from the binding, she subtitled it “Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism.” You might assume that she is correct since this is a book I do not choose to sit down and devour as I did the three other books. However, I struggle reading it more because of two issues – one is that she quotes a lot of studies and outcomes and no matter what I am reading about, this type of writing is hard for me.
While I love to study, I do not do well with statistics and analysis of these to draw conclusions that do not allow for any kind of variation from place to place or person to person.
Second, I struggle because she is a white woman telling me how I am because I am also a white woman. While I appreciate some of the insights that she has provided, I also feel an overall sense of defeat before I begin as she continues to bring up that even people who are trying very hard to recognize the signs of racism are still racists.
I will say that reading the book is helping me seek black voices especially in the Christian community and to listen to their experiences and insights and thoughts. I am reading what their thoughts and experiences are like to help me understand that not every believer sees things the way I do nor has experienced life in the atmosphere of the church as I have experienced it.
If you are curious who these might be, I recommend Jackie Hill Perry and her husband Preston Perry, Dr. Tony Evans, Priscilla Shirer and Jessica Mathisen for starters.
As for new books, I added the J. B. Phillips book to the stack recently and I struggle with his writing for the same reason as I do Diangelo’s.
Isn’t that interesting?
As Phillips outlines the various ways we have tried to downsize God and make Him manageable, I am constantly soul-searching myself and questioning if that is me. I do that with both of these books, and it is exhausting.
I personally do not do well with criticism or even perceived criticism. It makes me shut down and withdraw. I know this isn’t mature, but I understand it is part of my wiring and something I am at least aware of, right?
I am that person who when anyone is in general being corrected in a group setting, assume they are talking to me.
I think both of the authors are intelligent and well written, and so at times what they are saying is over my head. I approach both books with the prayer that God will use the material to teach me how to be more like Jesus right where He has placed me. I pray that what is not mine to possess or understand would fall away, and what I need to grow and stretch and learn would not be pushed off by me but embraced.
I confess a tendency to read things that delight me, inspire me and don’t make me feel uncomfortable.
That is not a place where transformation and growth happens…so wish me well as I continue to read with discernment.
And yes…I will be busting open that lighthearted little Jan Karon book with a fifty page per day limit as I journey onward …. <3