Saturday, February 27, 2010

I'm looking for wisdom . . .

The book of Job is filled with poetic images, metaphors, analogies . . .
That's probably why I didn't like it before. Poetry moves more slowly than prose, and I'm always in a hurry.

Plus, the book includes a lot of back and forth conversations about the same things. Job's friends say, "You're guilty." Job says, "No I'm not. God is after me." Job's friends say, "Well yeah, that just proves you're guilty." And then we start all over again.

Not only that, but some of the things Job's friends say? I've heard them in sermons at church. Spoken as fact. It's sort of confusing.

I'm looking at the book differently now, and it challenges me.

Why does God do what we do? Why do experience disappointments? Is God punishing us? After all, none of us are perfect.

I think of the loss of two pregnancies.
Or of Duane losing his job with UPS.
I think of dear friends of mine who are experiencing significant challenges right now. He took a risk and pursued a career choice he has dreamt about his whole life. Door after door has been slammed in his face, and he has been told he is not suited for the position because he lacks integrity. For a man who has built his entire life on the concept of doing the right thing, as this man has, accusations like that are incredibly wounding. He started in a different direction, and again, opportunity dried up. My heart aches for them. What is God doing?

Job offers a new perspective on these situations.

Chapter 28 is different, though, and I want to focus on that chapter today.

Job begins with a very descriptive passage that sets up a question. He says, "We know where we can find things of value, like silver, gold, iron, copper . . . But we have no idea where to find wisdom. We don't understand wisdom's true worth, and the search for it is elusive."

The personification is beautiful. Listen: The deep says, "It's not in me." The sea says, "It's not in me." Nothing, not gold or crystal, not topaz or rubies, is more valuable.

So where can we find wisdom?
"It is hidden from the eyes of every living thing, concealed even from the birds of the air."

Death and Destruction have only heard rumors of wisdom.
Interesting that Job identifies these two characters as not really acknowledging or understanding the existence of wisdom. It's definitely not found there.

Job demonstrates true wisdom in his next section. He says, "Only God, who created the world, who established the force of the wind, who measured the depth of the sea, who designed the rain, who knows everything . . . Only God understands the path to wisdom, and only he knows where to find it. Only God understands the true value of wisdom."

And then we read the familiar phrase, "The fear of the Lord--that is wisdom. and to reject evil? That is understanding."

Knowing God.
Recognizing his worth.
Celebrating his awesome mystery.

That is wisdom.
There is no wisdom when we focus on ourselves, our strength, our talents.

When we seek God, when we focus on his character and respond to that character, submit to his will, we will catch glimpses of wisdom.

And suddenly I remember the book of James. "If any of you lack wisdom, ask God for wisdom, because he is a generous God who gives his children everything they need."

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