Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Gospel According to Job

I'm reading a book right now, complements of my good friend Ronn-- also the pastor of my church-- which shares the same title with this particular post. Mike Mason is the author. It has been so good for my soul, even though I'm just digging into it-- not even a quarter of the way through, yet. It is a verse-by-verse "devotional" of sorts, of the book of Job.

Crazy, but Job wasn't really (according to most scholars) "in the fold", so to speak-- he wasn't of the "tribe of Abraham". He was "from the East". Not an Israelite. Most likely, he had no knowledge of Moses and the 10 Commandments, or "The Law" that was given to "God's People"... he had probably never even heard of Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob. In fact, some scholars believe Job even PRE-DATED Abraham. Therefore, the account of his life, trials, grief, and worship were very "non-religious". He had virtually no "historical" or "traditional" religion. He simply knew the Almighty God, as His Divine Nature and Person were simply written on the heart of Job (as they are every person), and Job simply was in communion with this Almighty that superceded all religion. In fact, hundreds if not THOUSANDS of years before the Cross, Job experienced the Truth and Grace and Hope and Passion of the Gospel, in the midst of his suffering before the Almighty. Kind of humbling, isn't it? As much as we run to our traditions and institutions for answers and comfort, here is a man who lost it all. He had no "church", no "Scripture", no "denominational heritage"... only God. Yet his faith was greater than anyone on this earth today, in my opinion. He poured out ALL he was to God-- his anger, his sense of mercy, his God-given wisdom and knowledge, his pain, his hope... his "humanity". Dude GOT "worship". He GOT "pursuing God"... "abiding" in Him...

Abiding...

Now there's a concept. I was just emoting to a friend today about how Leslie was an anchor for me... she met so many of my needs. The one that I've been wrestling with lately has been this: I have a need to be affirmed... to be known... to be understood. Not by everybody (in fact, I could care less about what 99.99% of the people in this world care or think about me)... but as for those whom I love... I need to know they love me... that I bring value to their life... that I am unique, cherished, of value. When Leslie was alive, she was "enough". She got me. We were WAY different in so many regards, but she cherished me, in all my strange-ness and quirkiness. She affirmed my thoughts, encouraged the passions of my heart. She would just lie there and listen in the dark at night whilst I spilled the eternal yearnings of my soul. And she would acknowledge them. Affirm me. Love me.

And now, she's gone.

A voice whispers... "abide..."

Those of you who know me know that I'm not a man of few words. This blog in and of itself is evidence of this fact. I struggle with that-- "...be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry..." a "mantra" of mine, of sorts, since my adolescence... one which is still so elusive to this day. I'm much more likely to be the person who lies awake at night regretting what he said, rather than the one who tosses and turns thinking of the things he wishes he would have had the words (or guts) to say. Neither is a worse person... But our struggles are unique, one from the other. I'm a verbal processor, though. (I know... HUGE revelation, right?) And Leslie was the bearer of that "listening" burden for me, for most of my adult life. At least, the part I remember. And there is definitely a "void" left, in her absence. (Man, I'm full of the profoundly obvious, tonight.) But the temptation is to rush to fill that void. To be known as she knew me, by another. Anybody. Somebody. Man, woman, or blog. And God has been whittling away at me... "Really, my son... what is it that you don't already have in me that your heart is telling you it desires? Do I not listen? Am I not here with you? Have I not proven my presence? What else do you hunger for?"

As I reflected into a microphone at church today, amidst a worship set that spoke to my own heart-- sandwiched between the songs "Hungry" and "All the World Will Sing Your Praises"-- "We don't live on bread alone... but on EVERY WORD that comes from the mouth of God." I'm so hungry, indeed. But the same God that poured the parts of Himself into Leslie with which He used to meet those very intimate and emotional needs in me-- that "hunger"... The strength He poured into her in order to make her the perfect partner for me-- is STILL HERE, even in her absence... and I know He will continue meeting my needs. I confess that it is difficult to not rush to fill the void myself... to wait. To abide. To "be still and know that I am God". It's hard to find solitude when the loneliness is so loud. It's hard to let His peace settle on me, some nights, when the angst is raging through my heart and mind-- that noise that Leslie would help me absorb and tame, by her mere presence, listening ear, and feedback.

But the Almighty is still here, and He's listening. Just as He was for Job. (As if I can compare my lot to Job's!) And gradually, He's teaching me to be content with that. In Him. To... "abide".

Needing prayer for peace tonight... that I might "abide".

Maybe if I say that word enough, it will start to sink in...

Abide...

10 comments:

Becky said...

Such a beautiful and poignant post, Tyson. You have a gift for putting your thoughts and emotions into words. Still praying for you and for T.J.!

Anonymous said...

Tyson

You are an amazing man of God!!! Amazing!!!

I have tears in my eyes reading this blog entry. Your HEART is so amazing and you are such a living testimony :) I admire your strength and your huge amazing heart --I can't wait to see what God does in your life.--You are AMAZING!!!! :)

ann said...

Praying for that you will hear the still small voice.

Kelly O'Dell Stanley said...

You don't know me, and I didn't find this blog until a few weeks ago, but reading this blog is soothing balm to my soul. I haven't lost someone dear to me as you have, but I feel the Holy Spirit through every word you write. Your words exude faith and trust and love and every time I read, I finish with tears freely flowing and "thank you, Jesus!" on my lips.

I've been struggling with something similar but on a much smaller level - we so want that human touch, that human face, that human someone to hold onto. Even though God is more than enough. Even though He is all in all. Even though there is nothing better or more fulfilling, sometimes there's still a longing there... we want to touch Him. I mean really touch Him. His presence can be tangible at times, and those are incredible moments, but I think perhaps God designed it to be this way. We're supposed to long for more, so that He can fill that void. The more we seek Him, the closer we'll become. But we'll never be completely satisfied that we have "enough" of Him, which keeps us heading in the right direction, towards Him.

Praying for peace. Quiet. That soothing, still voice. And a presence so tangible, so real, so heavy, that you feel Him cradling you in bed at night. That you talk to Him knowing He gets you. He made you and rejoices in your quirks, because He designed them. He is your source - He is your all in all - your words declare that to everyone. Now, my prayer is for you to feel that on a whole new level.

Marsha said...

Praying for peace and comfort for your heart, Tyson. Thanks for sharing. Keep it up!

Anonymous said...

Tyson,

I just want you to know that I am praying for and TJ everyday. You are such an inspiration to people and I know that our loving God has so much in store for you both!

kim p said...

Thanks for sharing, Tyson. I pray that God alone will satisfy your soul and teach you to rest in His sufficiency. Thanks for encouraging us to abide in Him, too.

Linnea said...

Tyson, I don't know you :-) but I am greatly encouraged by your blog - a friend recommended that I read it. Thank you for your bravery in writing it all down, the words of truth and of struggle.

I don't know what kind of music you listen to, but please try going to www.igracemusic.com and listen to Pilgrim Days: Indelible Grace II. (Of course, having the album works better than the samples) This album has been a breath of fresh air for me today. The lyrics are rich and powerful. Our God is truly the greatest lover of our souls. He has boundless stores of grace to pour out upon us.

Anne Kindinger said...

I read a quote yesterday and immediately thought of you...it says "Faith is a footbridge that you don't know will hold over the chasm until you are forced to walk out onto it." Tyson, you have been forced to walk on the footbridge of faith through this experience. Your faith has been called into action and you are "passing the test". You are being refined like gold by our Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer, Jehovah, and Abba Father. He is our Laminin. I heard a correlation drawn between the colors on the leaves in the fall and cold nights. In order for the chlorophyll to die in the leaves we have to have cold nights. It is those cold nights that draw the vibrant, dramatic colors that we get to experience and glory in during this time of year. As Christians we will go through "cold nights".....trials. What is in our hearts will begin to bubble out (Matt. 12:34b). These "cold nights" will draw out what is inside of us and it will either serve to bring colorful glory to our Father or make us turn away from him. Tyson, you have taken your "cold night" and have allowed God to turn you into a vibrantly colored creation that is bringing glory to HIS name. That is what we were created to do....to glory in HIM, HIS Supremacy and the work done on the cross by Jesus Christ. I continue to lift you and TJ up in prayer. I pray that God will make himself obvious to you in the times when you are so hungry for him.

Henny said...

Hi Tyson,
I have learned that sometimes God does want us to live with the "void" instead of looking for ways to fill it. So hard, but ultimately I think learning to live with the empty part of your heart is how He heals your soul and draws us more to seek Him and become like Christ. God is using you greatly to reach the heart of others just by being you who are. Still praying for you and TJ.
-Henny