Waiting in Wilderness: A Personal Invitation

Are Job’s successes — even his holy successes — his treasure?
Or is God his treasure?
That’s the question everyone of us must ask.
And there is no reason to believe
that God will not test any one of us just as he did Job.
When he takes it all away, will we love him more than things,
more than health, more than family, and more than life?
That’s the question.
That’s the warning.
That’s the wonderful invitation.
~John Piper in “I Was Warned By Job This Morning”

For I know that my Redeemer lives,
    and at the last he will stand upon the earth.
 And after my skin has been thus destroyed,
    yet in my flesh I shall see God.
Job 19: 25-26

The warning of the Book of Job is that it could happen to us too -– everything we have strived for, cared about, loved and valued — taken away. If we are stripped bare naked, nothing left but our love for God and His sovereign power over our lives, will we still worship His Name, inhale His Word like air itself, submit ourselves to His plan over our plan?

I know I have fallen far short of the mark. It takes only small obstacles or losses to trip me up so I stagger in my faith, trying futilely to not lose my balance, falling flat-faced and immobilized.

This past year, in particular, I’ve seen people lose almost everything in the pandemic: their health, their loved ones, their financial security, their home, their worship community. I’ve looked hard at myself and asked if I could sustain such loss in my life and still turn myself over to the will of God. I would surely plead for reprieve and ask the horribly desperate question, “why me?”, girding myself for the response: “and why not you?”

The invitation, scary and radical as it is, is from God straight to my heart, asking that I trust His plan for my life and death, no matter what happens, no matter how much suffering, no matter how much, like Christ in the garden, I plead that it work out differently, that it be closer to something I would choose to do, somehow that it not hurt so much.

His plan for my life was written before I was born, personally carried to me via His Son, and placed in my hands. It is up to me to open it, read it carefully, and with deep gratitude, respond with an emphatic RSVP:
“I’ll be there! Nothing could keep me away from your invitation to me.”

Or I could leave it unopened, hesitant and fearful to reveal its contents.
Or even toss it away altogether, believing it really wasn’t meant for me.

Even if, in my heart, I absolutely know it is meant for me.

There are only two kinds of people in the end:
those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’
and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’
~C. S. Lewis from The Great Divorce

Prepare for Joy: Unshaken

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I do not think that all who choose wrong roads perish;
but their rescue consists in being put back on the right road.
A sum can be put right:
but only by going back til you find the error
and working it afresh from that point,
never by simply going on.

There are only two kinds of people in the end:
those who say to God,
“Thy will be done,”
and those to whom God says, in the end,
“Thy will be done.”
All that are in Hell, choose it.
Without that self-choice there could be no Hell.
No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it.
Those who seek find.
To those who knock
it is opened.

Everything becomes more and more itself.
Here is joy that cannot be shaken.
Our light can swallow up your darkness;
but your darkness cannot now infect our light.

~C.S. Lewis excerpts from A Great Divorce

 

So much value is placed on choice — our country thrives on it: the choice to abort or let live, the choice to vaccinate or let nature take its course, the choice to recycle or overwhelm landfills, the choice to marry whom you wish or not at all, the choice to believe or decide there is nothing worth believing in.

Each fork in the road forces a choice.  Which is the “right” road? How can we ever know?

Each time I’ve chosen a road that ends up darkening to the point of invisibility or covered in brambles, potholes or muddy mire, I must choose again: keep going deeper into the darkness, or turn around and choose again.  I backtrack, rethink, make mistakes, get lost, try again.   When I finally come to my senses and whisper to God, “Thy will be done,” only then does His light lead the way and swallow up my darkness.

My joy at seeking the light remains unshaken:  He is God and always has been, and I am not and never will be.

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