Monday, October 24, 2011

Living on crusts and crumbs

 1-6 Job answered God: "I'm convinced: You can do anything and everything.
   Nothing and no one can upset your plans.  You asked, 'Who is this muddying the water, ignorantly confusing the issue, second-guessing my purposes?'
I admit it. I was the one. I babbled on about things far beyond me, made small talk about wonders way over my head.  You told me, 'Listen, and let me do the talking. Let me ask the questions. You give the answers.'  I admit I once lived by rumors of you; now I have it all firsthand—from my own eyes and ears!  I'm sorry—forgive me. I'll never do that again, I promise!  I'll never again live on crusts of hearsay, crumbs of rumor."
(Job 42:1-6 The Message)

Some days we all feel like we are living on nothing more than crusts and crumbs of rumors, bits of hearsay about God that others have passed our way.  We simply don't "connect" with God in a way that provides the meaning we are expecting at that very moment.  In those times, we can doubt that God cares, or even question if he is even aware of our circumstances.  The tendency on our part is to withdraw even further from God, wallowing in our self-pity of not knowing what lies beyond the current confusion, and wishing that someone, anyone would hear our cries for help.

Job was no different.  The crisis of one catastrophe in his life rose to the level of the next and the next, until he was almost overwhelmed by the continued crushing blows of the devastation he experienced.  He began strong - convinced that God would deliver him, that nothing escapes God's view.  He was certain that God would not allow tragedy to touch his life without a reason.  Then the second tragedy came, then the third, and before long, they were mounting up beyond his ability to "deal".  

There is one lesson we learn in those times of mounting issues in our lives - God doesn't want US to "deal"!  He wants us to rely on him to "deal" with the circumstances and to bolster our hearts for what lies ahead.  Too many times, we don't even bring God into the picture because we are "dealing" with the issue on our own - by what we have learned to do in the past.  The fact is that the way we "dealt" in the past may simply not work in the present.  God's mercies are new every morning for a reason!

When we are "dealing" with the situation, we are taking the action.  God's purposes are seldom fulfilled in the actions we take!  The direction of action should be at his hand.  Sometimes in the "dealing" we are attempting, we come to a place of "muddying the waters".  Literally, this means that the situation becomes more and more confusing as we attempt to put more and more of our own plans, actions, etc., into it.  At best, we find that we are "muddling through" - simply continuing despite confusion and difficulties beyond our ability to comprehend.

Job learned something in those hours and weeks of his "testing".  He learned that crumbs of hearsay are never enough to get us through the tough times.  We cannot live on secondhand relationship with God - we need the intimacy of our own deep relationship!  

He also learned that we are most able to "hear" when we actually stop long enough to listen!  That includes us stopping the talking long enough to hear his still small voice.  Some of us think that prayers need to be continual - without a chance for God to get a word in edgewise.  If we often stop long enough to actually listen, we will be surprised at how clear God can make the situation - removing the muddle of our present, replacing it with the clarity of his purpose.

Rumors abound about what God does, how he intervenes, what his love is like, how he responds to his children.  No rumor is going to hold us in the tough times!  Rumors are "stories", things believed because they are in common circulation.  Have you ever believed something to be true, then one day come across the actual truth?  I bet you have.  We cannot live long without being "duped" by some rumor along the way.  God warns us to not rely upon rumors - but to go to the source for confirmation of fact!

Job's final testimony is that he came to the place he was convinced.  He had moved to a place of belief - no longer arguing from a place of rumor or hearsay.  There are many forces in life that attempt to persuade us of their benefit.  Many times, we accept these at face value - without testing the reality of what we believe.  In the "testing moments", the reality of what we believe is put to the test.  Job came to the place that he no longer needed to believe based on second-hand knowledge - he knew of God's goodness on his own.

I don't know where you find yourself today, but I know that God's graces are never understood because you experience them through someone else!  They are understood only when you get first-hand knowledge of those graces in your own life.  We don't need to settle for crumbs and crusts of hearsay and rumor. We can know God intimately.  It is often in the investigation of the rumors and hearsay that we are exposed to the truth.  What have you simply accepted about God that you don't really know yourself?  Perhaps today's challenge may reveal more of what he wants you to know first-hand in your life!

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