There are times in life when we need a whole lot of convincing before we will ever relinquish the "position" we have assumed. It reminds me of the days when I was a small child and we played the game "king of the hill". We'd have some mound of soil we'd scamper up. First one to the top was king until somebody else could push, pull, or somehow get the current "king" off the hill. We'd play for hours, proclaiming proudly, "I am king of the hill". The ones who were really good at this knew how to "dig in their heals" and really give us a run for our money as we'd try to "de-throne" them. Hmmm...I wonder if we sometimes try to play "king of the hill" with God?
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)
God and Job have spent about the last 3-4 chapters talking back and forth. Mostly, God did the talking! As a matter of fact, he basically told Job to just hush and listen so he could help Job get the right perspective! Just as we used to play "king of the hill" with our friends, I think there are times when we are trying to do the same thing with God - by second-guessing his plans and purposes in our lives. Look at what Job describes as the "means" by which we actually do this:
- We have a whole lot of ignorance about the issue. In other words, we don't have clarity, so we just assume things are a certain way. As you may have heard once or twice in your life...assuming is dangerous business. Whenever we form an opinion, or simply charge ahead into action without having all the facts, we are in danger of showing just how ignorant we are! Job complained bitterly for many chapters about how God's plans could ever work out for good in his life. He'd seen his walls crashing in around him - he was being pulled from all sides and was no longer "king of his hill". Disease, sickness, financial ruin, family troubles, marital troubles, and even the loss of his reputation had been his undoing. Anytime we don't have clarity, we are in danger of stumbling upon something we never saw in the first place!
- We second-guess God's purposes by confusing the issues. We often see things from a very limited perspective. We are inclined to believe something simply because it "fits" this perspective. For example, when we are in pain, how do we view life? Is it all rosy and good? Hardly! In fact, we manage to stub that painful toe over and over again, don't we? The nightstand just seems to be the issue. The fact that we don't turn on a light never comes to mind! We simply keep focused on the pain and cannot see the dangers right in front of us when we do! If we refuse to turn on the light then we reason we need to move the nightstand!!! We get confused easily. When there is even a small amount of light, the nightstand becomes clearly visible and we are able to see the proximity of our big toe to the pain-invoking leg of the nightstand! Sometimes (most of the time) we just need a little more light!
- We don't get it "first-hand" from the source. We live by "rumors" of how things could have been caused instead of asking straight-out to the one who really knows. We call this speculation. Anytime we think we have God figured out, we are merely guessing! Anytime we form a belief without having sufficient knowledge of the facts - we are speculating or forming conjectures. The problem with this - when we don't have all the facts, we often are missing the critical elements we need to be able to interpret the issue! I have been guilty of this way too much in my own life. I "jump" to conclusions faster than I'd like to admit! I find it is the easiest bit of "exercise" I do in life!!! The danger in not getting to the "source" of the issue is living with half-baked ideas of the situation. God is the only source I will trust - so in learning to go to him with the issue first, I am learning to "jump" less!
- Last, but definitely not least, we live on rumors instead of going to the source. It is like a dog licking up the crumbs under the table. He gets a little idea of what the entire meal was like, but he really does not have the enjoyment of having participated in the full meal! Job had a lot of friends who assisted him in believing a few rumors - bringing him crumbs from their own experiences. The fact remains - we all experience life a little differently. Even two people with the same "disease" don't experience it the same way. I had two kids with chickenpox just weeks away from each other. One sailed through it, the other spent her day in the bathtub trying to get relief from the itching in the oatmeal baths! Each had the "same" disease, but each had a differing experience (different crumbs under their tables, so to speak). When all we have is the crumbs - we don't have the facts which come through the actual experience. Job had to learn to seek God's perspective in order to understand what he was experiencing - no one else's crumbs were quite able to provide that answer!
So, if you find yourself being a little too intent on being "king of the hill" in your life today, might I just challenge you to come down off your hill? Digging in your heals and assuming you know why it is you are where you are right now is by your own effort or something you did in your life may not always be the reality. In fact, as you take time to enthrone the right KING on the hill, you might just be given a perspective which dispels a few "rumors" you have been listening to which had steered you wrong!