I usually avoid that guy. Boils all over his body. Know-it-all friends. A crabby wife. But, as it turns out in the Grand Scheme of Things, I’m reading the Book of Job right now. (Yep, one of those one year Bibles has me reading Job in August. In Texas. Where the heat feels Job-like, like one of God’s afflictions).
Job has some interesting misconceptions from his perspective. He thinks God is after him. He wishes he had never been born. He longs for death. He didn’t see the holy transaction in the heavenlies that precipiated his demise.
What is at stake? You know the story. Satan prowls around the earth, claiming victory. God says, “Look at my servant Job. He follows me.”
Satan says something like, “Yeah, well, who wouldn’t? You bless him so much. Take away the blessings and he’ll curse you to Your face.”
What is at stake is God’s reputation. His glory. His holiness. Not that God is defending Himself or trying to prove Himself right. In His sovereignty, He knows that Job will endure this severe trial and come through it knowing and praising Him deeper than ever before. So He takes away. And takes away. And strips. And allows disease. (I wonder how our friend Joel deals with the Book of Job???)
And Job is bewildered. Lost. Haranged. Needy. Weary of advice. Tired. How many of you have ever felt that way? On some level, we are all Job. But we sing the Matt Redman song, “Blessed Be Your Name,” silently hoping God won’t listen to our hearty rendition of “He gives and takes away.” We like the give. We fret about the taking away.
These past two years have felt like a glorious taking away. God has met me in the taking away. As my children have wept in school (I still can’t shoulder or let that grief fully take root in my heart), as we transitioned to France, as we moved from transition to transition. Stripped. I haven’t always liked that stripping. Usually, truth be told, I resisted it.
But now in retrospect I see God’s hand. He wanted me. And to get to me, to get to my heart, to root out my own personal idols in my tent, He had to take away.
Yes, I am like Job. Tired. Irritable. Wanting to see some of the Give of God. But, at least today as I write this, I want to embrace the taking away. To walk through both the deep, long valleys as well as the staggering mountains, if that means walking more closely with Jesus.