Sunday, August 14, 2005

The Watcher

“I Loathe my life: I would not live forever. Let me alone, for my days are a breath. What are human beings that You make so much of them, that You set Your mind on them, visit them every morning, test them every moment? Will You not look away from me for a while, let me alone until I swallow my own spittle?”
Job 7:16-19

It can be a fearful thing, living under the gaze of the almighty maker of all things. The omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent I AM is too much for us to bear.

". . .And He said 'I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will show mercy to whom I will show mercy. But,' He said, 'you cannot see My face; for no one shall see Me and live.' "
Exodus 33:19-20

This is the creator. The Big Bang that excites physicists so much is the very breath of God. He said “Let there be” and there it was! (All praise His name!) Creator of the universe. Uni-verse = one word. His word. The word. The Living Word. And He still holds it all together (John 1:3).

So Job, struggling to understand the WHY, wants out from under His gaze. He has lost everything that is dear to him. If only he could hide, to crawl away from this intense scrutiny, and die.

But he is too completely the LORD’s servant. He knows that God is watching. He would take his own life to make the pain stop, but he cannot die under that powerful gaze.

King David sings in praise: “. . .What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?” (Psalm 8:4) Why do you love us so?

Job moans in despair: “What are human beings that You make so much of them, that You set Your mind on them, visit them every morning, test them every moment?” (Job 7:17)

Job’s torment is so great. “. . .I will speak in the anguish of my spirit; I will complain in the bitterness of my soul. . . When I say ‘My bed will comfort me, my couch will ease my complaint,’ then You scare me with dreams and terrify me with visions, so that I would choose strangling and death rather than this body” (Job 7:11-15).

When my son Willy died I was haunted by nightmares filled with blood and death, guilt and self blame, of past and future hurts.

I imagine Job dreaming of his employees bleeding in the fields, his children gasping for breath as their nostrils clog with debris, the fallen walls squeezing the air from their lungs, dust settling upon their open eyes. His dreams are disturbed by the weeping sores of his skin, his life is all ashes. And when he awakes he looks up at the slowly drifting clouds and knows the He is watching. He is watching!

“Do You have eyes of flesh? Do You see as humans see?” (Job 10:4) He is pleading. How can a loving God allow such pain? He cannot live with it. He cannot die. It is intolerable.

Job is trapped. He knows that the LORD is just, fair, righteous. He also knows that he is innocent of any great sin. Job is trapped in the trap that all men faced before Christ. He is under The Law.

There is a saying: “Forgiveness is for Christians. Guilt is for the Jews.” For Job and those of his age, there is no recourse under The Law. Prayers and sacrifices, obedience and humility before our maker are all we can offer.

Today there is another option. This is one that makes it bearable to be under the eye of the almighty. In fact, we count upon it.

“’I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that can do nothing more. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear Him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into Hell. Yes, I tell you, fear Him! Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God’s sight. But even the hairs on your head are all counted. Do not be afraid; you are of more value than sparrows.’” Luke 12:4-7

God is an intent watcher. And more. He loves us. He desires us to choose Him for a relationship. We have free will. We are designed to make choices. And we have appetites that we wish to fulfill that tend us toward poor choices. He waits for us to choose Him (Rev. 3:20).

Poor Job lived on the other side of the cross. The side where a relationship with Yahweh is tainted by our inherent failures.

Life on Earth is temptation. We will fall into it. If nothing else, we will fall to some form of selfishness. We want to be praised, honored, regarded, considered, consulted, loved, respected.

We are a curious mixture of traits. We have a spiritual nature that seeks God. We cherish beauty and goodness. We marvel and appreciate. Something lifts within us when we turn our heart and mind to higher things.

We have a physical side that has much in common with the other living things on this world. We hunger for food, for resources, for sex, for control.

We have the capacity for discernment. We have an intellect to make choices, and to implement those choices. To plan, to maneuver, to accumulate, to devise, to deceive. To focus on blood or rainbows, wars or friendships, tortures or healings.

We have an animal nature that hungers. A spiritual nature that delights. A mental nature that decides.

Why do we have these traits? How can they benefit Him? The LORD has spiritual beings who were created to serve him, to praise Him. Beings who have been doing so for thousands, perhaps billions of years. Why would He create us, creatures who are so flawed?

In this book of Job, Satan stands before the LORD as a sort of prosecuting attorney. He is making the case that even this very good man would fail the LORD if things were not so good. Satan wants a warrant from the divine court to set up a sting operation. To prove that love is something God has paid Job to do. God believes that it is in Job’s nature to honor and love and worship regardless of circumstances.

It’s a wondrous gift when someone chooses to love us.

Could it be that when He created us that Satan argued that we are unworthy? Unworthy of His love, unworthy of spiritual gifts, unworthy of eternity? Could it be that the story of humankind is set against a backdrop of a spiritual debate?

For a moment consider that Satan may have felt slighted by our creation (or the plan of it). Satan may have felt that the LORD was wrong in including creatures that sweat, and grunt, and hunger into the spiritual club. That we have no place alongside cherubim, and seraphim, and archangels, and powers, and dominions, and principalities. We do not deserve to be so cherished.

Perhaps the events of human history are under the watchful eyes of the LORD and Satan because we are the Job story. That tale begins with the creation of Man, with his flaws, and a temptation. It also begins with a relationship. Man and the LORD.

Adam walked with Him. “They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and the man and the woman hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God. . .” Genesis 3:8

They hide because of more than mere shame. Prior to this they were face to face with Him. They could be in His very presence. Adam was with Eve when she chose wrongly. He failed her and himself. And then they were fundamentally different creatures. Creatures that indulge their baser appetites. They were human.

“’But,’ He said, ‘you cannot see My face; for no one shall see Me and live’” (Exodus 33:20). Part of the reason the first couple hid was simple self-preservation.

So He is watching. Has been all along. Sometimes that is a dreadful thing. It means that if we are in tune with that truth we cannot do anything without being aware of Him.

It is also a wondrous thing. He is aware of every sparrow, but He loves us.

Satan was so sure of the inherent corruption of being human, that the mixture of animal needs and desires with a divine nature, a soul, that he bet it all. He thought that even God incarnate could be tempted while in the form of a man (Matthew 4:1).

So where is our victory for Him in what we do? It is love. Love for each other, love for our creator. When we love we beat the odds. When we praise Him we tally another victory on the side of the LORD. And when we love Him despite the difficulties we face, it is a special triumph over the forces of darkness.

Satan is whispering to us to give up, to despair, to curse God and die. He tells us that we are unworthy, that we are cursed, that we are mayflies burning out our lives in futile desires, we have no hope in deserving His love.

Ah, he is very good at mixing lies and half truths. We are unworthy. We are selfish and animalistic and base. We are crude caricatures of divinity. But that is what is so marvelous! We wade chest deep in the muck of human frailty. But when we stand on our toes, we can lift our hearts above the primordial soup of our desires so that our hearts are pushed above the gunk of mortal existence. We can look upward and love. We raise our hands out of the sloppy mess and lift them in praise. And when we hold up our gratitude to him, especially when the offering itself is painful, we show that the spark of divinity that He has given each of us, that the LORD of creation lives within that heart temporarily above the ooze, we achieve a victory for more than ourselves.

It is a victory over darkness.

So, those of you who struggle, those of you who are hurt, those of you who are beaten and bruised and afflicted and are damaged goods, PRAISE HIM! In praising your creator who loves you more deeply, more fully than we can possibly understand, you claim a victory for Him that proves that love is the strength that binds the universe together.

Praise Him from whom all blessings flow!



MMM said...

I am standing here, in the middle of my Desert of the Real, with your words still quivering at the end of the blog arrow still lodged deep in my GodSpot.

And I will still praise Him.

Amen, and amen.

Tamara said...

I just finished reading your entire blog - like a book I was drawn to, and had to finish in one afternoon. I had work to do, but will finish it later. This seemed far more important for me today. God led me to your blog - to your words, to the scriptures you post. I am humbled, and honored, and blessed to have visited - and will return to read about your journey.

Cindy-Lou said...

Such a good post... isn't it wonderful that we have His grace? God is truly awesome!

David said...

Job said it well , he felt like I did after two hours in the dentist chair.

Thanks for your kind words on my Sugarloaf mountain blog

Heidi said...

Curious Servant,
Thank you for visiting my blog, and for your prayer. It moved me to tears, knowing that a brother in Christ from another country is willing to pray for me. God bless,

jayme said...

My husband is a preacher...and he loves the book of Job...well you least as much as you can really love the story of Job..I think he would love this entry. I will share it with him. Thank you for visiting my blog!

Neal W. said...

CS -

Really great stuff. I teach from Job a lot. As far as the church setting goes, it forces us to ask ourselves the question "Why are we here in church?" Is it because God has blessed us with children and wealth and status and our presence is a down payment for more...or is it because God is so big and powerful and loving and everything we're not and we can't help but praise him. Satan had a point when he told God that praise didn't mean much coming from a blessed man...but it meant something when coming from a broken and grieving man. Good blog, I'll be back.

- Jayme's husband

Anonymous said...

CS, thank you for visiting my blog. I popped over here to check yours out.

This was a great post!

Anonymous said...

OK, I just read your earlier entries, CS. Yours is a compelling story, to say the least.

But you surely seem to be steadfastly persevering in the journey. What an awesome testimony.

God bless you and your family~

QueenBee said...

What amazes me about the story of Job, aside from God's faithfulness etc... is the fact that no one, and I mean NO ONE stood by Job. Even his wife said, "why don't you just curse God and die." I want to be the friend who encourages "Job",who is really there for "Job" and who does not condemn "Job" or look for the sin in his life that is the cause of all that is wrong with him. OH, to be that kind of friend.

Jeff said...


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