Monday, June 13, 2016

Slow down, flagman ahead: a short detour to the land of Uz....

Our pastor Sunday spoke about loving God in the good times and bad and showed Job as an example.  In my post yesterday, I mentioned how everything goes before the Father, even as those angels who behold the face of the Father for us watch and listen.  The extraordinary tete de tete God had with the "Sons of men" and Satan is fascinating.

"There was a man in the land of Uz
(I take that as the land of us, meaning this is for us)
whose name was Job; and that man was blameless,
upright, fearing god and turning away from evil.
Seven sons and three daughters were born to him...
His sons used to go and hold a feast in the house of each one on his day,
and they would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them.
When the days of feasting had completed their cycle,
Job would send and consecrate them,
rising up early in the morning and offering burnt offerings
according to the number of them all;
for Job said, 'Perhaps my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.'
Thus Job did continually.

Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord,
and Satan also came among them. 
The Lord said to Satan,
'From where do you come?'
Then Satan answered the Lord and said,
'From roaming about  on the earth and walking around on it.'
The Lord said to Satan,
'Have you considered My servant Job?
For there is no one like him on the earth,
a blameless and upright man,
fearing God and turning away from evil.'
Then Satan answered the Lord,
'Does Job fear God for nothing?
Have You not made a hedge about him and his house
and all that he has, on every side?
You have blessed the work of his hands
 and his possessions have increased in the land. 
But put forth Your hand now and touch all that he has;
he will surely curse You to Your face.'
Then the Lord said to Satan,
'Behold, all that he has is in your power,
only do not put forth your hand on him.'
So Satan departed from the presence of the Lord.'
(Job 1:1-10)

Life is fragile. One puff and it is gone.
Now this is some strange stuff but has some wonderful things for us to glean.  First off, it is a matter of Job's example  of parenting.  Evidently, his children enjoyed each others company and they liked to party, each on his day (birthdays?).  With ten kids, that happened--if he used our calendar--almost every month.  This is kind of like our family with six children and their spouses and nineteen grandkids., someone is always having a birthday.  If we were to be like Job's family, the parties would never stop!  And the parties had days of feasting. This is a good thing, right? That his kids liked each other that much to hang around?  But the parties, eating and drinking?  Hmm.  It was enough to send Job to his knees and CONTINUALLY consecrating them before the Lord, presenting them with sacred offerings, devoting them solemnly to God.  That's my take-away.  I do pray just in case, just perhaps, some of my dear ones slip and sin.  The result of his prayers and consecrating them before God was that it was used by God to put a hedge about him and his house on every side with blessings.  Hmm. 

This weekend, we got the call that our son in the group home did some self-harm when he got upset this week.  His father and brother had just been to see him a few days before.  But mental illness does not mean things always go smoothly.  He had to go to the hospital, not terribly injured, but needing a psych-hold to be evaluated, much to his anger.  He was not tip-toeing through the tulips.  These are those times when you wake up with a renewed sense of needing urgent prayer for your child, that hedge around them to keep Satan from entering in. 

I do not pray for the hedge of protection around my children so that they have blessings unlimited and are able to party-on, though that is certainly nice.  However, I do pray, consecrate them continually in the light of eternity, that they include their heavenly Father in their party plans until they are ready to see Him face to face.  Sure enough, a tornado hit and all Job's children, all ten of them, died instantly right in the middle of a party.  The ultimate goal is not blessings for this life, but to prepare them for the next.  That's the hedge of protection I'm talking about. 

We have relatives who like to claim, Psalm 91:11 over us every time we part.  Every. Single. Time.  Whether it is on a daily basis or whether, they say it during a parting after a rare visit, it is their mantra.  Who wouldn't want that?  Psalm 91:11 is where I just visited in the Psalms where the prayer is that God would give His angels charge over me so that I won't so much as stub my toe.  However, my concern for my children is not necessarily for this covering but as for their eternal souls. I have ones who need that kind of prayer right now who are putting their toes outside the hedge of protection.

Then there is the weird and wonderful conversation God had with Satan.  Of course He knew exactly where Satan had been, like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour wandering over the earth.  We need to recognize our foe, the enemy of our soul.  Then to show Satan that even when tough times come, God would prevail in his child's life though buffeted in every way, God allowed Job to be tested.  Job lost all his children in one swoop.  His wife told him to curse God and die, and then he became painfully afflicted with disease and even more so, afflicted with self-righteous taunting friends.  So family-less, wife-less, friend-less, in his lowest point physically, Job cried out to God.  God heard, God knew, God revealed His true self in trusting in His servant Job.  He saved Him and rewarded him by giving back all that he had lost; well, I don't know about his nagging wife, it doesn't say.  But even at the end, Job had the grace to pray for those misguided friends.

Now don't get me wrong, I don't wish to lose my children like Job lost his, like some of my friends have lost theirs' this year.  They say that it is the most painful loss of all: no parent expects to outlive their child.  However, as Job prayed for his children, hopefully that meant that God just pulled them up beyond that curtain, that veil that separates us from eternity, just out of sight, but not far in the perspective of eternity.  In a sense, did Job lose his children?  I think it is safe to say that the way this father prayed, his children though absent from him here, were safe in God's presence.  As Paul said, to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.

The end result of Satan's conversation with God is that Satan departed from the presence of God.  The good news is that no matter what comes our way, we never have to be apart from God's presence.  Now that's what I'm talking about!


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