As some of you may remember, I started a journey through the scriptures a few years ago. My goal was (and still is) to read straight through, from page 1 to page … whatever. Luckily, I didn’t set a time limit for myself because if I had, I would have failed over and over again. I reasoned that it didn’t matter how long it took me, the point was to get there one day.
For a while, I was blogging every day. That’s because I was in the early books where many of the really good stories are. Then I hit some very dry books in the Old Testament and I ran out of things to talk about. That’s not to say that I didn’t have any Aha! moments. I had quite a few. For instance, while forcing myself through some eye-blurringly dull lists of genealogy and wondering why God included them in so many books in the Bible, I realized that one reason God may have done that was to impress upon us that if He noticed some obscure descendant of a son of Israel’s second cousin’s nephew thrice removed, and remembered that guy’s name, it’s very likely that He notices each of us and remembers our names. At least, it made me stop and think about it.
And then there’s the story of Gideon, which I skimmed right past but then had to go back and study again when I attended a Bible study class on (you guessed it!) Gideon, and his fearful self. And isn’t there a lesson for all of us in that? We squirm around thinking we’re not made of the right stuff, we argue with God when He calls us.To prove our point, we list our weaknesses and our failings so God will realize He’s asking too much. He counters by giving us a little strength. We do the thing, and then we start taking the glory for ourselves. Hey! Look what I did! God didn’t bless me, I worked for what I have. I did this. All by myself.
We’re guilty of us even in those times when we pray for help and wake up the next morning with an answer. Instead of showing gratitude, we give God a little wave and tell Him not to worry about it, we figured it out. Here’s the good news: He loves us anyway.
I made my way through the Book of Esther, which is an amazing story, made even more amazing if you study up on Xerxes a bit and realize what a violent nut case he really was.
And now, after a whole lot of procrastination, I’m in the Book of Job. It’s probably a good place for me to be since I’ve spent a lot of my life feeling like a female version of the guy. So the first thing I can report after beginning the book is that yes, I’ve had some troubles, but I’m removing myself from the list of Job impersonators. My stuff doesn’t really even come close.
The other thing is that I’ve realized that Job did whine a bit. He may not have lost faith in God, but he wasn’t all yippee-skippee about the stuff Satan hurled at him. He didn’t shrug it off and say, “My whole family died in a tornado? No big deal. I’ve lost all my wealth? I didn’t even notice.” Nope, he whined. He rued the day he was ever born. He had bad days, and he fell short.
And nothing Satan threw at him got through without God’s permission. Why is this good news? God trusted Job. He said, go ahead. Do your worst. Job will not fail me. I mean, how awesome is that? How awesome is it to think of God trusting us? It boggles my mind.
As for the whining, as someone with a Master’s Degree in whining, I consider the fact that Job let go with the self-pity good news, too. In fact, that’s the over-reaching lesson I’m learning as I slowly make my way through the Bible. The book isn’t about perfect people who’ve never made a mistake, slipped up, lost hope, and been swallowed whole by fear. It’s about how God forgives all those weaknesses and rewards the fact that we eventually shake ourselves off, get up again and keep trying. People just like you and me. Which makes the Bible relevant to us today, even if the stories are from a different time. Styles may change. Politics may change. Language may change. But human emotions never do. What we feel today, people felt 3,000 years ago.
As a good friend said to me yesterday, our chance to make good decisions renews every morning, just like God’s grace does. So what if I had a bad day yesterday? Today can be better. So today isn’t better. Tomorrow just might be.
In fact, I’m counting on it.