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Bedford, Texas, United States
Pastor of Woodland Heights Baptist Church in Bedford, Texas and former Professor of Old Testament. But mostly I am a husband of an amazing wife, father of gifted children, and servant of an AWESOME God.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Fringes of His Ways

Behold, these are but the outskirts of his ways, and how small a whisper do we hear of him! But the thunder of his power who can understand?” (Job 26:14, ESV)

This morning I was given the task of putting medicine in the ear of my dog. When I called her she submissively came, laid down, and let me put the medication in. She whimpered because her ear hurt as I did it, but she didn’t give me a hard time. As I was doing it, I felt bad about the pain I was causing her and I also felt bad because I knew she had no idea why her master was causing her pain when she had done nothing wrong. I knew it was for her good, but I also knew she had no idea that was the case. It reminded of one of my favorite Bible verses and the journey of discovery God took me on when I first came across it.

The Job 26 passage above is one of my favorite meditations on the greatness of God. It was first shared with me by a friend while we were in Nashville considering in-utero surgery on Jonathan to repair his Spina Bifida lesion on his back, shortly after we received the diagnosis in 2002.

There are two things I really love about the verse. One is the simplicity, yet depth of the idea that all the wonders of creation are but the outskirts (or fringes) of God’s ways. It takes the reflection of Psalm 8, where the writer examines the cosmos and wonders about man’s place in it, and expands it exponentially by relaying the truth that the stuff we see is not even a recognizable portion of the power He maintains. What we see is indeed enough to know He is present, powerful, creative, and magnificent, but not enough that we can assume that we can understand even a portion of what He is capable of or how He might work. Except, of course, in the ways that He Himself has revealed to us truths about who He is and how He works.

The second thing about the passage that makes it so significant to me (and probably why it has stayed with me) is that Job utters the observation when he is at his lowest. Not only has he suffered immensely by the loss of everything, but by this point in the story he has already had to endure the unhelpful theologizing and the damaging accusations of his friends. Job is spent - physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Yet, it is the knowledge of who his God is that spurs him forward, away from the fatalism of his friends and the surrender that so often sets in when life overwhelms. He will seek an answer; he will try to find understanding; he will experience deliverance – not because he is stubborn and willful, but because his God is big.

By the end of the story Job does submit to the situation. Not because he was proven wrong or sinful. Not because he was beaten down and proven to be worthless – in fact, just the opposite has taken place. No, he submits because he is allowed to catch another glimpse of God’s greatness and majesty and that, coupled with an already vibrant and passionate theology of God, was enough to answer his questions and deal with his biggest fear – was God in fact with him all the while?

Like my dog with me this morning, I don’t always understand what God is doing in my life and why His actions toward me hurt. After all, all I can see are the fringes of His ways. But I do know that He is loving in all His ways and He is with me through it all. How do I know that? Because I have experienced His deliverance through some tough times of my own and more importantly, because that is the God He has revealed Himself to be in His word.

Be encouraged!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I really like today's blog as it relates so much to the difficulties I'm going through now. I fine it helps me to continually remind myself to keep my focus on our Lord and to give Him praise for all the truly wonderful things He has blessed me with.