Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Who's the boss...

I have eagerly awaited today's passage since beginning this Job journey. Chapters 38 through 42 highlight God's authority and majesty as he answers Job and his friends.

Reading through God's resume is astounding, and Job's subsequent appreciation of his comparative nothingness and powerlessness is convicting.

Take a look at these verses from chapter 42 as Job replies to The Lord,
2 “I know that you can do anything, and no one can stop you. 3 You asked, ‘Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?’ It is I—and I was talking about things I knew nothing about, things far too wonderful for me. 4 You said, ‘Listen and I will speak! I have some questions for you, and you must answer them.’ 5 I had only heard about you before,
but now I have seen you with my own eyes. 6 I take back everything I said, and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.”NLT

I think the subject of today's entry has to be control. Or maybe the lack thereof.

The truth is, we are not in control. Sometimes, I fool myself--thinking that I am, that somehow I can wield a measure of change-invoking power, but the truth is, in most circumstances that is not the case.

Books and magazine articles, television shows and news stories have suggested throughout my lifetime that it's possible for people to control their destinies--and I'd be dishonest if I didn't confess that the idea appeals to my flesh nature. But in reality, it is only true with respect to the fact that one's personal choices generally affect his or her life course.

As far back as I can recall though, I wanted to be in control. Our childhood playhouse was headquarters for our neighborhood club--and I was the president. I was a great order-giver, especially after I'd designated my youngest sister "club gopher," a title she proudly assumed, unaware that my intention would be for her to "go for this, and go for that," whenever we needed something from the house.

It's entirely possible that my desire for control may have even guided my initial career path in medicine. I think maybe a quest for knowledge about the human body, its intricacies and complexities, its fragility and resilience, was prompted in part by a desire to manage my health and the health of my patients. Unfortunately, it also afforded me knowledge of human errors, those big and little huh-ohs that have made me fearful to relinquish control even when I should.

As an example, years ago my doctor recommended surgery for an ongoing health issue that I've battled since my late 20's. I wanted (and knew I needed) the surgery, but I was just not willing to submit to general anesthesia without a guarantee that the procedure would be successful--and she couldn't offer that. Stupid? Maybe. But like I said, I don't like giving up control, and I do not want to be unconscious unless it's medically unavoidable.

In contrast, a friend of mine loves surgery because of the anesthesia. She made the remark to me one time that there is no sleep as enjoyable as the restful peace she feels after a good sodium pentothal drip. I listened in amazement to her statement, comparing our two vastly dissimilar opinions of the same process, and I found myself envious of her childlike confidence in doctors. Confidence that I liken to the kind of trust--no, faith-- that the awesome God who answered Job in his distress deserves.

A line from a song that was sung years ago by the group First Call comes to mind as I consider his infinite power and greatness:

I may not know what the future holds, but I know who holds the future...

and isn't that what it's all about in the end? Trusting that because God is in control we can know peace when all the world around us cries in fearful unrest is a beautiful gift that he offers to all who will receive it.

Job humbly recognized that he was not in control because of his suffering. Tonight, I praise God that he has revealed this to us through his Word. Our Holy God, the creator and sustainer, maker and keeper of the universe, the one who holds back the oceans and makes the sun rise in the morning is almighty, all powerful, all knowing, and ever present, and he alone is in control.

There are life functions that I can control at this point (what I eat, drink, read, watch, do, and say) but the truly important stuff is all up to him, and in my heart of hearts I am so very glad that I can trust the controller whose ways are infinitely higher than my ignorantly bossy mind can comprehend.

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