If Only I Knew Where to Find Him

 

Job 23:1-9, 16-17

Psalm 22:1-15

Hebrews 4:12-16

Mark 10:17-31

Just after last week’s reading, in 2:11, we read: When Job’s three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort himNIV They sat with him for seven days without speaking—often the best thing friends can do.

The first verse of chapter 3 is: After this, Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birthNIV That cursing takes up all of chapter 3, yet, he does not curse God.

The next few chapters include efforts by his friends to get him to admit to his sins so he can once again walk with God. Their advice is sound, but only if Job sinned.

Job is upset precisely because he had not sinned. If only I knew where to find him; if only I could go to his dwelling! I would state my case before him and fill my mouth with argumentsNIV

We see Job in the same state that all humans are in, at least from time to time. Sadly, some people live their lives apart from God. It is not easy to stay tuned to God. We live in a world of sophisticated radio transmitters and receivers, but the receiver we use to hear God is more like the very first crystal radio which required constant tuning. By constant, I mean a person had to wiggle the tuning nob all the time to stay with the changing signal.

Unlike those first wireless transmissions, God is constant. His Word to us does not change. But our receivers are defective. Our sin overpowers the message. That is especially true when we do not keep our hand on the tuner.

Many preachers tell us we must read the Bible and pray to know His Word. That is not bad advice, but it falls short of helping us all the time. Like Job, we want to sit down with God face-to-face and get clear-cut answers.

In the 1920’s, G. Campbell Morgan wrote a book called The Answer of Jesus to Job. I have lost my old copy from the sixties, but his theme was, no surprise, Job wanted to talk with God, he can do it by looking at Jesus.

Morgan stated Job’s plight this way. Bluntly Eliphaz had said, get to know God, and all will be peace. Job replied in effect, that is the difficulty. How am I going to do it? And in these actual words, “Oh that I knew where I might find Him!” It is one thing to tell a man to acquaint himself with God, but quite another to show him how he is to do it.

Jesus’ answer is that we can only find God where he lives. Man cannot make contact with God by any action which is earth-bound. Morgan goes on. We find ourselves in an upper room with a group of men of our own humanity, men who have also known this desire of the spiritual life for God. In the midst of them there was One, a Man of their humanity, looking with human eyes at them, as they are looking at Him.

By looking at Jesus, we can see God. In John 14:9, Jesus told Philip, The man who has seen me has seen the FatherPhillips In this passage, Jesus had already responded to Thomas by saying, I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. NIV

Notice how Jesus stressed action: I am the way. Following Jesus is not about sitting in a pew. Attending the Ecclesia—the church—renews us for the real work of following in the Jesus way.

Too many people today identify with Job, and Thomas, and Philip, but there is no need. We can see Jesus in the reading of the Bible, and we can see him at work in the lives of people around us.

After the death of Mother Teresa in 1997, her private letters were published, revealing her inner Job-like struggles. In one letter she wrote, Where is my Faith—even deep down right in there is nothing, but emptiness & darkness—My God—how painful is this unknown pain—I have no Faith—I dare not utter the words & thoughts that crowd in my heart—& make me suffer untold agony.

But she worked on. She walked in the way of Jesus, even as she struggled to see him. Too many super wealthy TV preachers make it sound so easy, and perhaps it is with $200 million in the bank. But for those of us who grind our way through each day, trying to see through the mist to find the goal, it is not so easy.

Don’t feel too bad, Thomas and Philip stood next to the living Jesus and asked to see God.

 

Read my earlier comments on this theme here.

 

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence

A Gentleman in Moscow

You may have noticed that it has been about three weeks since I posted a book review. The main reason for that is that this book is not a trifle. Yes, at 462 pages. it is longer than most books, but this one must be savored like a K+M Extravirgin Chocolate. (I haven’t had one but I can dream.)

Towles is an artist. His words are pasted to the page with the most delicate brush strokes. He is never heavy-handed. No words are wasted; every sentence sets up the next.

You may wonder in the early chapters where the story is headed. Put away that idea. It is the journey that matters.

As you may have noticed, I read mystery genre mostly, but a beautifully written book in any genre is a pleasure to read. On the other hand, a poorly written mystery often is not worth my time.

When I looked at the cover and title of the book, I assumed it might be a spy novel or something of the sort. At the root, this is a love story. No, not romance, not a love triangle. Nothing so squalid. Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov in 1922 was found guilty of being an unrepentant member of the leisure class. But rather than shoot him, he was sentenced to spend the rest of his life in the Hotel Metropol, the greatest hotel in all of Russia. Should he set foot outside he would be shot. The book covers the next thirty odd years.

In all that time he lived in a 100 square foot room in what had been servant’s quarters. None-the-less he was able to befriend almost everyone he met, from a young girl to a senior Soviet government official. Each person became important to him so that he took great risks to help them. They, in turn, helped him when needed.

Let me give you a taste of the writing:

As the Count waited for his wine, he gazed around the restaurant, but his fellow diners offered no relief…. That is, except for the young girl with the penchant for yellow who appeared to be spying on him from her table behind the fountain.

According to Vasily, this nine-year-old with straight blond hair was the daughter of a widowed Ukrainian bureaucrat. As usual, she was sitting with her governess. When she realized the Count was looking her way, she disappeared behind her menu. … 

But when the Count opened his eyes, he nearly dropped his spoon. For standing at the edge of his table was the young girl with the penchant for yellow–studying him with that unapologetic interest peculiar to children and dogs. Adding to the shock of her sudden appearance was the fact that her dress today was in the shade of a lemon.

“Where did they go?” she asked, without a word of introduction.

“I beg your pardon. Where did who go?”

She tilted her head to take a closer look at his face.

“Why, your moustaches.”

Thus began a great friendship that sprouted anew throughout the book to the very end. There were many others, including a famous actress of the silent films who managed to reinvent herself in the industry to survive, literally to the last page of the novel.

The Gentleman in Moscow goes on my list of favorite books. Oh, did I mention it was the New York Times bestseller for 2017?

Mike Lawrence