I think we learned this from a friend in college... but every time the clock turned 6:27, I'd start singing happy birthday to him until the clock turned 6:28. We were usually only awake for one of his clock-birthdays. We were usually awake for both of mine. Sometimes I'd join in and sing happy birthday to myself. Just one of the things we used to do together. So I sang him a happy birthday in my head.
Last year... around this time... I think I was also reading through the book of Job. I read it with Anderson sometime in April 2009... and again on my own in June. It's so amazing that every time I've read through Job, something different stands out to me.
When Anderson and I read it together... these were his thoughts:
85% of people who want to comfort us, they have no idea. They're just like Job's friends. Few people know what they're talking about. no one to blame... just the way it is. People just can't understand. Job understands. He got it. Job was venting. He's OK to vent, he's kinda got a right to. like shouting into a pillow or punching the bed. Like weight lifters in the Olympics shout so they don't pop a blood vessel. Have to let it out. I look up to Job for not cursing God for everything being taken away from him. It's the right mindset to have.Here were some of mine when I read it on my own last June:
Ahhh... Job. I identify with him when he says, "the Lord gives and the Lord takes away... blessed be the name of the Lord". Our situation isn't the same, but I am always encouraged by Job and his courage to be honest and say what was on his mind, even if it's ugly or asking questions, or cursing the day we were born and wishing we never existed. Also encouraged when the devotion said that we're never tried outside the will of God... so despite Satan wreaking his havoc, God is still on our side and still limiting Satan's work so that we only get what we can handle.The book of Job... and the song, Blessed Be Your Name, remind me of Anderson. When we read through Job together, we memorized the verse, "The Lord gives, the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord." We said it together a lot. We needed to remind each other... a lot. When things got tough... and when they got even tougher... we needed to remind ourselves. When his surgical scar popped open and I thought he was going to bleed out because his platelets were dangerously low, I remember... after running out and getting the nurse... I came back to him, and we looked into each others' eyes... and said... "if this is it... I love you". I can't remember if we said that verbatim but that's what we meant. I remember sitting in my chair... head in my hands... and I prayed a prayer of preparation in my heart... that if God took him right then and there... that I would be ready. But that wasn't his time yet and God knew I wasn't ready. Not yet, my child, He seemed to say. Not yet. It took me a long, long time before I could sing Blessed Be Your Name without bursting into tears when it gets to the part "He gives and takes away, He gives and takes away, my heart will choose to say, blessed be Your name." It still makes me cry sometimes. But crying is good. I like crying. I just don't really like talking about it until I'm ready to talk about it.
The words that come out of Job's mouth... like "though he slay me, yet I will hope in him" are really inspiring to me. He had a good understanding of life and God... and yet he still pours out his heart to Him and asks for mercy. I think I would have smacked my friends if that's what they came to say to me, but he still listens and rebukes them, yes, but he still listens. Maybe he's just waiting for the words that would help... but they never come.
This year... when I read through Job... I think what hit me most was that through Job's suffering... he remained faithful. Everyone around him felt that he was being punished for something he did wrong... some sin he committed... but he knew in his heart that he hadn't... and if he did, he prayed that God would reveal it to him. I'm floored at his unwavering faithfulness and single focus on the Lord. God was so, so right when He said that in all the earth, there was no man like Job.
This man was stripped to the core. He lost his children, all his wealth, his reputation, his livelihood... all in one day... his wife told him to curse God and die... his friends were attacking his character... making things so much worse for him. He was utterly alone. Just him and God. And this is where he needed to be in order to truly SEE God... to be brought into a deeper, more intimate relationship with Him.
But even before that... God said that Job was upright and blameless... and Job, himself, said that he had only heard of God with his ears. It was only after all the suffering... and after all his friends tore him down... that God spoke to Job... and THEN came the understanding... only then was he able to say that "now my eyes have seen You." Blessed are those who have not seen and believe... I know Jesus was talking about seeing Himself, but seeing is seeing. Blessed is Job. He had only HEARD of God before. Faith does come by hearing (Romans 10:17)... but Job didn't need to understand everything in order to be faithful. He was obedient with all his heart in the ways that were revealed to him at the time. Even when life became a horrible nightmare that he couldn't wake up from... he still said, "though he slay me, yet will I trust in Him" and "till I die, I will not put my integrity from me". God had Job's heart... through and through. Job loved God with all he had. He was faithful.
We always want rewards for being faithful, but God calls for obedience and submission regardless of earthly rewards. "Good things" are not to be our motivation. God loves to give good gifts to His children, but He will give us what we need and what things are good for us, even if we don't think they're good at the time. Trusting that He knows best is what gives us peace that surpasses understanding in situations that are so horrible and through pain unimaginable. Our motivation is to be... love. We love God, therefore we obey. Our reward is a deeper relationship with Him and believe me when I say that it is absolutely, hands down, completely worth it.
I think I thought I loved God my whole life... but my actions didn't really show it. I didn't know how to love God... mostly because I didn't know how to love. My life up until now has been one long journey to teach me what love is and how to love. To love God and also to love others.
From Experiencing God:
What you value most is your treasure. Where you spend your time and your money is your treasure. Whatever dominates your conversation is what you treasure. What others know you for is a good indication of what your treasure is.Keeping track of my expenses nowadays... my pie chart tells me very clearly where my treasure is. What I love to talk about also tells me what I treasure. Looking at my google calendar also tells me a lot about what I treasure through how I spend my time. I think it's time for some analysis, evaluation, and adjustments.
Most Christians are quick to claim that God is their first priority. Yet often their actions reveal that their treasure is not God but things of this world.
I need to sleep now... but I just wanted to end with something our instructor told us in class the other day. He said he tells it to his patients... especially those who have compliance issues with the diabetic lifestyle.
He said, either you can control your disease, or your disease can control your life. If you want to control it, you need to do what you know you need to do (i.e. stick to the diabetic diet, exercise, take your insulin). If you want your disease to control you, just keep doing what you're doing and I'll see you in the hospital again soon.
Um... I already forgot my point... but I think it was something to do with getting right with God. Your actions reveal what's important to you... either God is priority and you make choices that reflect that... or you just give in to the desires of your flesh... and that will be revealed in your lifestyle and your choices. The more you choose God, the easier it becomes to choose Him... the more you WANT to choose Him. Choosing God is good for you... and your spiritual health will reflect that. The more you choose your flesh, the weaker your spiritual health will be... the sicker you will become. OK. I'm going to have to write more another day. I need to sleep. Night!