It’s not comfortable! That God can’t be confined to a box, a box of our own making. Some make the God-box large, granting Him lots of room and space to move about. Others make the God-box so small, so tight, He couldn’t move, couldn’t even breathe, let alone act on His own.
We feel safe, comfortable, most of the time, with the God-box we’ve constructed. Job’s friends spent conversations increasingly more painful with Job, describing in detail the God-box in operation over Job’s life, over all life. They spoke in growing frustration and aggravation with Job … because he didn’t validate the predictability of God living within their God-boxes.
Job knew, really knew, something his friends didn’t begin to grasp. God is sovereign. He doesn’t live in a box, nor act within the confines of a box man’s understanding painstakingly builds for Him.
Job knew this as he spoke of the Almighty: “But He stands alone, and who can oppose Him? He does whatever He pleases.”
Job doesn’t mean that God acts capriciously. However, God doesn’t jump through anyone’s hoops. God gives Isaiah insight into the LORD’s ways – “The LORD of Host has sworn saying, ‘Surely, as I have thought, so it shall come to pass, and as I have purposed, so it shall stand …’ ” (14:24)
It confirms God’s words to Israel “God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should change His mind. Does He speak and then not act? Does He promise and not fulfill?” (Numbers 23:19)
This is what Job knew of God, and it filled him with ‘fear’ – a reverential awe of God that C.S. Lewis reflected when he wrote, “Safe? No, He’s not safe; but He’s good.”
Job had laid hold of the sovereign element of God’s nature, and he knew it was that sovereignty in which he lay, in which he now rested. Moreover, Job knew God’s sovereignty did not always feel like a comfortable place, though it was a place he could trust. We hear it when, with confidence, Job speaks:
“But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold. My feet have closely followed His steps; I have kept to His way without turning aside. I have not departed from the commands of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my daily bread.”
As I write these words, as much as I would like them to be mine, I know they can’t be. Job wasn’t talking about being without sin, but he was talking about a commitment of life, of walking … a choosing to faithful put aside his own will and way and choose Another’s. I’ve known that walk, during seasons of my own life. But I can’t say that the overall description of my life could be “My feet have closely followed His steps; I have kept to His way without turning aside.”
Here is a man devoted to God with everything he is, not for reward, but because he knew it was the right thing to do. Because he desired God and obedience to His way.
Job’s words put me in mind of other words: “Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you manna, which neither you nor your fathers had know, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes form the mouth of the LORD.” (Deut. 8:3-4)
Words that a Son would later speak, in the testing of His own wilderness.
For me, one of the beauties of Job is his testimony of faith … not a faith forged in ease, but a faith walked out in the night seasons … seasons of darkness and pain. A faith that wouldn’t deviate from God’s way, a faith that treasured the words of God’s mouth more than daily bread, even when the counsel of “worldly wisdom” would lead him to turn his back on the God he knew and lay hold of a god living in a God-box of man’s making.
That’s the faith I want. Though I understand faith of that caliber is forged in night seasons, clung to and strengthened in desert places, I long for the grace to grow me into the faith of Job. A faith that will not be moved. A faith that fears God, a faith knowing that God does whatever He pleases, a faith knowing that even when I can’t understand the moving of His hand it always moves in love for me.