Saturday, 25 August 2012

Have You Considered My Servant Job?

One of my favorite Bible stories of all times is the story of Job. Actually, lately, I've been going through a season in my life where I feel God is revealing to me more and more of His character, of who He is, through Sunday morning messages, passages read for morning devotions, Bible studies (no I'm not just tryna say I'm a busy Christian lol), I've been standing in front of a mirror, praying that He show me what I fail to see, and He's just upstaged me completely. Haven't quite worked out what it's all about yet, but I am exploring it with a fervent hunger. 

But yes, back to Job. His story gets me every time. But you know, it's not the fact that he lost everything and didn't blame God, it's not the getting it all back, it's not the wise responses he afforded his foolish friends, it's the part when God speaks that gives me goosebumps. 

Let me lay it out how I see it. So you have this guy Job, he is as perfect as a human can be (other than Jesus). This guy is so good, that if he hears that his children are throwing a party, he offers sacrifices for them afterwards, in case they have sinned and need redemption. Job used to stand by the road miles from his house and insist that travelers stop by his house to rest. More than that, he didn't even boast about it, if he had, then his friends who came to council him later on would have known all this and had less "ammunition" with which to judge him. He got someone's attention though, I mean by God's own testimony the man was "blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil." (Job 1:8) (wouldn't I love to be described like that by God... wow)

So yea, the devil is like, yea, yea of course he's perfect it's cus his life is so comfortable. So God gives him freedom to make it uncomfortable. Long story shortened, Job loses everything except his life, then has to defend his honour to friends who are convinced that he's suffering due to un-confessed sin (where have I heard that before... *rolls eyes*).

Right, so I'm following all this right, and I am just so impatient for God to jump in and be like "Oi! This is my blameless and upright son you are talking about, leave him alone." I mean imagine yea, the book of Job has 42 chapters. The whole thing about Job's life, how good he was, how he lost everything, is summed up in chapter 1 and the first half of chapter 2. By chapter 2 verse 11, Job's friends have already showed up. and they talk straight through to chapter 37!! By this time, I am heated, and I mean, I know how the story ends, I can't begin to imagine what it's been like for Job. I'm just itching for him to be put out of his misery.

So finally, chapter 38, the Lord speaks out of a storm, and what does he say?

"Who is this that darkens my counsel 
with words without knowledge?
 Brace yourself like a man; 
I will question you, 
and you shall answer me."

Not bad right, except, He's talking to Job!!! Now, I'm sorry, I am not a Bible scholar, so maybe I missed something, but I have been over the preceding 37 chapters again and again, I have read various commentaries and I fail to see what Job did to warrant the 4 chapters of God's answer, when his 3 friends get 4 verses! 

But that's just it, that's why I love the book of Job so much. I mean Where was I when God laid the earth's foundation? Do I know when the mountain goats give birth? Where does darkness reside? I don't even know how to put into words what goes through me when I read those 4 chapters of God's questions. It is a mixture of awe and confusion and reverence and fear... it's a glimpse into the actions of a being who "will have mercy on whom He will have mercy, and will have compassion on whom He will have compassion." It is a reminder that not even a blameless and upright man can contend with the Almighty. 

So what's my point? The next time you're having a bad day, you know the kind [see: previous post], and your mind is telling you that you did nothing to deserve it, just listen out for that still, small voice whispering, "Have you considered my servant Job?". I end with the following verses that send shivers down my spine each time I read them. 

"Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you will answer me. 
Would you discredit MY justice? Would you condemn ME to justify yourself?
Do you have an arm like God's, and can your voice thunder like HIS?
Then adorn yourself with glory and splendor, and clothe yourself in honor and majesty.
Unleash the fury of your wrath, look at every proud man and bring him low, 
look at every proud man and humble him, crush the wicked where they stand.
Bury them all in the dust together; shroud their faces in the grave.
Then I myself will admit to you that your own right hand can save you."

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Hypothesis Testing

Jesus - Matthew 10:22: 'People will hate you if you start talking about me and what I teach.'

@Creationtips: "Some people will tolerate anything except Christians who believe the Bible." 

Let's test this hypothesis shall we:

Do you know that I'm a Christian?

Of course, you go to church, and sing and stuff, but it's not like you're one of those bib...

Bible Bashers? Hmmmm ok, Did you know that I believe that God created the world in six days? That Jesus Christ was the son of God sent to Earth to die for man's sin and offer us the free gift of salvation? That the Bible is God's Word?

Lol, Joy-Ann, seriously....

Right, ok, seriously? More practical? Did you know that I believe that swearing, gossiping, and sex before marriage just like lying, stealing, and murder is a sin?

Huh? But you've... But Ro... 

I said I was a Christian, not perfect. In fact I believe that everyone sins, and therefore fails to earn God's grace (Rom 3:23). 

Ok... but it's not like you're saying things like...

Did you know that I believe that homosexuality is a sin? Did you know I was pro-life?

Whoa! Hold on a minute...

Yup, here we go, did you know that I believe that the only way to get to heaven is through the acceptance of Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Saviour?

Who are you to judge? I'm going to be very honest, I'm not sure we can be  friends, you're starting to sound very intolerant and close minded....

I had a feeling you might say something like that. That null hypothesis is looking more and more verifiable... Now let's test yours? I'm prepared to lose reputation, job opportunities, status, friends, and yes, if it came to it, my life, for His sake (Matt 10:22).
But before we agree to disagree on the rejection of H1 versus H2, before you hit that unfriend button, please consider this; I have always held these beliefs. Yea, its true! The same way that I've always (well since I met you) known what you believe. You know what I mean, that Christians are narrow minded, judgmental, damnation preaching, Bible bashing hypocrites who were gullible enough to be taken in by bad people using religion as a tool of oppression and control (or some variation or the other). My beliefs have not changed, the only difference is, now you know for sure. What you do with this new knowledge is up to you. I'm still me.

Friday, 17 August 2012

A Stranger on Memory Lane

It’s a frightening moment when you recognise the part you played in the failure of something. A relationship, a business plan, a group, a band, a church; the particulars don’t matter.

The realisation tends to hit you in hindsight of the event. It’s been years, you’ve told the story countless times to many people, and have offered your unbiased opinion about how the end came about. Even you believe the story you tell.

Then one day, out of the blue, something triggers a memory. Often, the memory is about the good times, you know, before things went bad, before it all fell apart. And you casually take a stroll down memory lane, oblivious to the changing of the lights, the little red man that is desperately trying to warn you that it is NOT safe to cross. You’ve duped yourself into believing that you know every bend and dip in the road. You know where it twists, where it turns, and all its visitors. You are convinced you could travel this road blindfolded, and safely arrive at your all too familiar destination; the failure.

BEEEEP BEEEEEEP!! Whew, you’ve narrowly escaped being run over by misremembered (conveniently forgotten) facts. It unnerves you, strangers do not travel this road, this was unexpected, surely it must be a mistake. A wrong turn, a faulty map, the need for directions. You have to investigate. The car has stopped, the driver is still inside. You approach the window to give assurance that you are ok, and offer assistance; directions and a friendly warning that they’re lost. You get there, and YOU are driving…

It’s ok, deep breaths, it was a long time ago, you were younger, you now realise the mistakes you made, it was partly your fault, in ways you hadn’t realised. It’s a tough pill to swallow, you take a moment to process this new information, it gets worse, this older model of you, the one whose existence you have only just come to terms with, turns to you, stares straight into your eyes and asks; “what now?”.

What now indeed. Do I call up the people involved and plead my case? Explain I’ve changed, now see the error of my ways. Have they been enlightened the whole time? Have they moved on? Should I?

I have yet to answer Joy-Ann version 1.0. My inner voice is offering up various courses of action far too quickly, and too loudly to be trusted. It’s drowning out that still, small voice that I should be taking advice from. So I’m going to wait it out. I know from experience that, that still small voice will out last the loud one and offer me a solution that is a part of a grand picture that I can only partly see.

For I know the plans HE has for me, plans to prosper me and not to harm me, plans to give me hope and a future. Boy do I trust those plans…