An Act of Obedience

“It’s not about the outcome — it’s about the obedience”

My friend Kris, said that to me on cool afternoon while we were chatting, it was in response to this question:
“What if I go the entire summer with no job, no money in my bank account and things go terribly, terribly wrong?” 
I let her words sink deep and they tumbled around.  I struggle with this complete and desperate trust in God. I struggle with a faith that doesn’t have a step by step plan.  I want a linear faith, one complete with flowcharts and templates one that has me moving from one to another with an easy and fluid grace.

I want a faith that more closely resembles Newton’s law of motion, a “do this and this will happen” kind of faith.  When it all really boils down to the truth of what niggles away at my heart I want a feel good kind of faith.  You know the kind I mean the one wrapped up in “you’re a good person so good things will happen to you.”

I’ve written about it before, how I struggle with a gospel that includes suffering and yet somewhere beyond the I wish fors, and God couldn’t you do it this way, just this once, I really want a gospel that brings me closer to Jesus – even if it means donning a sack cloth and heaping proverbial ashes on my head. 

After Kris and I said our goodbyes I held on to our conversation and let it simmer there in my heart but it wasn’t until the next morning that God showed me the faith that my heart was built for.

I turned the page in my chronological Bible and the very next thing that I was to read was Job.  I said “Really God, the whole thing?” I’m not going to lie I may have actually groaned out loud.  But I read on…

Here Job was, rich, prosperous and enjoying the singular distinction of being labelled “blameless” by the almighty.  He had a wife and kids and land and houses and fields and so on and so on.

In the middle of his good life he can’t hear the dialogue that’s happening in the heavenly realms.  It’s like his life is the stage and behind the curtain and God and Satan are having a little chat…

“Of course he’s good and blameless look at what you have given him.  Take it all away and he’ll curse you.” 

What I find astonishing, even more than God allowing suffering to be heaped upon Job is that God trusted Job’s attitude.  It’s the only human explanation I can come up with for why God allowed the next things to happen.

In a single day messenger after messenger reported bad news.  The bible says that before one even finished talking the other came to report more bad news. Job must have felt like he was standing in the middle of an air strike, bombarded by fire bombs.” 

You have to understand – he lost everything.  Literally.  EVERYTHING. In one day. 

He didn’t have a chance to warm up to the idea of suffering.  He didn’t have a chance to prepare for the death and destruction that came knocking.

“Job stood up and tore his robe in grief.  The he shaved his 
head and fell to the ground to worship.” v. 20
It was this verse that had me going back to my conversation with Kris from the day before.  It was these words that brought me up short.  The faith I wanted for my heart was right here in these two lines.  It’s an authentic faith.  A faith that helps me keep a posture of waiting WITH God instead of waiting FOR Him. 
Two things strike me about these verses.
First, Job reacted as one might expect one to react when they have just lost everything!  The tearing of a robe and shaving one’s head in Hebrew culture was a sign of ultimate grief.
God expects our grief.  God desires our grief, our anger, our sadness, our fears.  When we’re feeling like life is pressing too close or like there is more going on than we can handle it is an act of worship to share those feelings with God.  
Second, “he fell to the ground,” the Hebrew word here indicates that he bowed down low.  His falling was more than a collapse it was an actual bending in worship.  In the midst of his most devastating loss and tragedy he worshiped. 
What’s even more startling is that not once did a curse cross Job’s lips.  He knew that his hope was in God alone, he knew that God had ordained every step in his life and that nothing escapes God’s sight.
“I came naked from my mother’s womb and I will 
be naked when I leave.
The Lord gave me what I had, and the Lord has taken it away.
Praise the name of the Lord!” v. 2
The freedom of these verses.  The absolute joy giving freedom of these verses that are couched between tragedy and disaster.  
A freedom to worship God in the middle of my suffering, to understand that I can come as I am to a God who knows my future.  
It doesn’t matter what might upend me this summer, it doesn’t matter what fires I may face I will fall down in worship before my God – in obedience. 

Linking up with my friend Holly Barrett for Testimony Tuesday.  Won’t you read other bravery here?

Holly Barrett

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