Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Day 151: Job 31, 32 and 33

I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a girl. (Job 31:1)

In the 1983 film WarGames, Matthew Broderick plays a teenage computer whiz kid who accidentally hacks into the missle defense of the United States. Thinking he's found his way into a computer game company, he's eager to sample their newest product. He comes across files such as Tic-Tac-Toe, Chess,... and a very intriguing Global Thermonuclear War.

The computer asks: Do you want to play a game? And before he know's what's happening, the computer locks him out and initiates a countdown to a preemptive nuclear strike.

While the countdown progresses, the kid challenges the computer to a game of Tic-Tac-Toe. Because two evenly matched players can play Tic-Tac-Toe indefinitely and neither of them ever win a game, the computer soon learns the concept of stalemate. It starts looking ahead through all the possible outcomes of a nuclear war and comes to a conclusion.

The only winning move is not to play.

The control room at NORAD breathes a collective sigh of relief, the world is saved, and the delinquent computer genius becomes the hero.

We may think we can play the game of lust and come out a winner but we cannot. There are always consequences for playing this game. Job had taken precautions to protect himself. When it comes to sexual fantasy and lust, the only winning move is not to play.

How are you protecting yourself? ...and your marriage?

Monday, May 30, 2011

Day 150: Job 28, 29 and 30

Man puts and end to the darkness; he searches the farthest recesses for ore in the blackest darkness. (Job 28:3)
Job describes and awesome, scary picture of ancient mining operations.
He writes about cutting a shaft through the rock, dangling from ropes, and working in pitch blackness, illuminated only by the miner's lamps. No bird or animal has ever seen what man discovers there in the cave's loneliness.
But where can wisdom be found? Where does understanding dwell? (v. 12)
Job is telling us that wisdom is more valuable than ever silver or rubies, and that we should be willing to go to greater lengths to find wisdom than we do to dig up sapphires and gold.
Our hero is comparing the toils of his life to the search for riches. He has worked harder and suffered more than any treasure hunter. And he has discovered the hard truth that wisdom is more difficult to find than a vein of gold.
Do you treasure wisdom enough to to keep going until you find it?

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Day 149: Job 25, 26 and 27

I will never admit you are in the right; till I die I will not deny my integrity. (Job 27:5)

One after another, first Eliphaz,, then Bildad, and finally Zophar, Job's three friends spout off the same age-old retribution wisdom. If you're suffering, it must be because you sinned. Humble yourself and be restored.

But Job couldn't humble himself. He had nothing to confess. To feign guilt just to gain relief wouldn't have been right. Job was not about to let God off the hook just to ease his own discomfort.

Is there a lesson here for us? How often do we fall on our own sword, when we know we're not in the wrong, just to make peace. If Job is a theodicy, a defense of God's justice in the face of seemingly contradictory evidence, then it is also a study in the ethics of conflict.

How many times have I taken one for the team? While it sounds noble, it may be no better than a prizefighter taking a dive. Romans 12:18 reads: If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. But avoiding conflict isn't always the ethical thing to do. Standing our ground may be more Christian than retreat. Winning a battle for my own glory certainly does not display a proper Christ-like attitude, but falling to the mat just to avoid the unpleasantness of conflict doesn't either.

Have you ever kept the peace and lived to regret it?

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Day 148: Job 22, 23 and 24

If onlyI knew where to find him. (Job 23:3)

St. John of the Cross, a 16th century Spanish mystic, wrote The Dark Night of the Soul to describe the painfuland lonely journey of an individual seeking spiritual maturity. John wrote his treatise while imprisoned by his own monastic brothers for his attempts to reform the order. It symbolizes a spiritual crisis in which God seems far off and unreachable.

Watchman Nee, the Chinese church planter who died in 1972 after twenty years in prison, wrote about the brokenness of the outer man in The Release of the Spirit. He talked about how God uses struggles and hardships in our lives to break the shell (the personality or soul) that binds the inner man (the spirit). Nee and John could have been reading each other's emails.

We talk about times when God seems to be hiding and our prayers bounce off the ceiling, times we cry out to God but get no answer. That's what Job was experiencing. He was seeking, but God was nowhere to be found.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent (Psalm 22:1,2).

It seems that Christ also experienced the dark night of the soul.

Have your cries for God ever been answered only with silence?

Friday, May 27, 2011

Day 147: Job 19, 20 and 21

Why do the wicked live on? (Job 21:7)

There's the crux of the matter. I know bad things happen to good people, but if it at least seemed like the scales were balanced and that the wicked suffered as much as the righteous, then I could say, Well, trouble comes to us all in equal measure.

But that's not how it seems. While I'm struggling to pay my bills; while I'm suffering through illness and injury; while my kids are making bad choices causing me to lose sleep, my neighbor just bought another boat. Why does he need two boats? How is that fair, God?

It's not so much that good people suffer, but that bad people so often seem to get a pass. Why do they have the advantage?

Near the end of the 1989 movie Field of Dreams, Kevin Costner's character Ray Kinsella confronts baseball right fielder Shoeless Joe Jackson. Kinsella complains how he did all the work and went to all the expense to build a baseball field in the middle of his struggling farm, and he's about to go under.

Kinsella: Never once did I ask, "What's in it for me?"

Jackson: What are you saying, Ray?

Kinsella: I'm saying, What's in it for me?

Looking at the seeming disparity between the lifestyles of the rich and famous and the lifestyle of the average believer, can you understand why Job thought life seemed unfair?

Have you ever asked, "What's in it for me?"