Since I always like to include a photo of something we’ve eaten recently, I’ll start with a photo of a beef taco, prepared with House Sauce (page 151 from A Recipe for Survival). This is from the 14 Days of Birthday Celebrations, an annual tradition enjoyed in our household from February 1st through the 14th. Since I don’t want Valentine’s Day to overshadow Brody’s birthday, I make sure we have lots of celebrations each day for those two weeks. Often, the celebration involves his favorite foods. He is delighted with simple gestures such as love notes littering the house one day, or on another day, my taking the time to prepare Birthday Danishes (pages 164-166 from A Recipe for Survival) for a reminder of the sweetness of God’s love expressed in another year of his life. Sometimes, I simply rearrange the ingredients of a favorite dish creating a “new dish,” making his meals seem less repetitive. Whatever I come up with for that day’s celebration, he is a happy camper!
In my last post, I mentioned that I struggle periodically with an “I deserve better” or an “It’s not fair!” attitude. I think my main difficulty is that I actually think I know how I would serve God the best. In the past, I’ve recognized that it’s possible to make a god out of what I think my calling is or should be. I can fixate on what I want to do with my life — how I think I will be the “most helpful” to God in His Kingdom. That kind of thinking leads me to an angry response when my life isn’t turning out the way I had always pictured or assumed it would be.
The best antidote for me when I sense the growing anger is to read Job 38:1-42:6. The background for these verses is the entire book of Job. The first two chapters detail the financial, emotional and physical suffering Job endured as part of a contest between God and Satan. The next 36 chapters mainly contain the conversations between Job and his friends.
Finally, in chapter 38, God answers Job. He begins by asking Job a series of questions. (I counted at least 63 questions in these chapters.) God begins with questions related to the design and creation of our planet:
“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell Me, if you have understanding,
Who set its measurements?
Since you know.
Or who stretched the line on it?” Job 38:4-5
These questions regarding designing and building are especially meaningful to me as an engineer. I love to participate in design work. My favorite jobs were in the process control realm, in which I enjoyed specifying instruments to measure various parameters in a manufacturing setting. I also enjoyed writing the program for the control system to automate the control of a process. I loved to work on the programming and graphics for the human-machine interface so that the operators of the process could safely and efficiently monitor and control the manufacturing operation. I loved being a part of the team, efficiently and profitably producing a quality product without sacrificing safety or the surrounding environment. These questions from God to Job really speak to me regarding design from an engineering perspective.
After focusing on His knowledge of our planet, God moves on to questions revealing how little Job – and I – know about the weather patterns for our planet and, related to that, how we do not control the weather as God does:
“Have you entered the storehouses of the snow,
Or have you seen the storehouses of the hail,
Which I have reserved for the time of distress,
For the day of war and battle?” Job 38:22-23
“Can you lift up your voice to the clouds, so that an abundance of water will cover you?” Job 38:34
God doesn’t stop with our little globe, but asks Job Who maintains the order of the Universe:
“Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades,
Or loose the cords of Orion?
Can you lead forth a constellation in its season,
And guide the Bear with her satellites?
Do you know the ordinances of the heavens,
Or fix their rule over the earth? Job 38:31-33
Using beautiful poetry, God continues asking Job questions, revealing His wisdom, care, and power in Creation.
“Who has put wisdom in the innermost being
Or given understanding to the mind?” Job 38:36
I have never designed – let alone created – anyone or anything that had the ability to learn, reason, or design new things! God has accomplished this in creating humans! But I can’t even compete with God in designing less complex creatures:
“Is it by your understanding that the hawk soars,
Stretching his wings toward the south?” Job 39:26
When I see a bird soaring in the skies above, I ask myself, “Have I (or has any human) designed and created something like that bird, with the ability to fly and also reproduce, making more birds that can fly?” Simply asking the question helps me remember my place as part of God’s creation, and part of His design for this world. Since I tend to lift myself up in my mind, thinking I know best how my life should be, these kinds of questions help me remain humbly aware of God’s position as the most wise of all.
I already know from the Gospel how great is His love, but throughout these questions to Job, God shows his care for His Creation. He sprinkles reminders of His care in among the questions revealing His knowledge, power and control. We humans tend to fear someone in a position of authority over us… how kind of God to remind us repeatedly of His care as He speaks of His might!
He describes specific creatures He has made and how he cares for them… He even knows when pregnant mountain goats and deer are due!
“Do you know the time the mountain goats give birth?
Do you observe the calving of the deer?
Can you count the months they fulfill,
Or do you know the time they give birth?” Job 39:1-2
He even cares for land unpopulated by humans:
“Who has cleft a channel for the flood,
Or a way for the thunderbolt,
To bring rain on a land without people,
On a desert without a man in it,
To satisfy the waste and desolate land
And to make the seeds of grass to sprout?” Job 38:25-27
In the final section of God’s response to Job, He gives a detailed description of two powerful creatures, Behemoth and Leviathan. These descriptions certainly remind me of dinosaurs and dragons. God’s point to Job is: “If you are not powerful enough to face these creatures, how then would you challenge Me, their Creator?” The creature is always less than the Creator in every way, so if I cannot stand before Behemoth and Leviathan, why would I question God’s wisdom in designing my life the way He has?
To me, these verses from Job answer the question, “Who’s more qualified to design my life?” I tend to think more highly of my design skills than I ought to. I didn’t realize that I thought I knew best how to design my life until I became angry that my life wasn’t turning out the way I had always imagined it would, or how I had worked hard for it to turn out. These verses silence my complaints, just as they silenced Job.
“Behold, I am insignificant; what can I reply to You?
I lay my hand on my mouth.
Once I have spoken, and I will not answer;
Even twice, and I will add nothing more.” Job 40:4-6
“I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.” Job 42:2
“I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; but now my eye sees you;
Therefore I retract, and I repent in dust and ashes.” Job 42:5-6
I have benefited so much from reading these chapters that I’ve begun memorizing them. I’ll write more about that in my next post!
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE, Copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. www.Lockman.org