I was in a Bible study with a group of about 20 people. We were studying the life of Job when one individual said, "I could never be a Job." He said it just wasn't in him nor could it be found in him to have such dedication an experience as Job had.
I disagreed and shared the above text as my favorite text in the whole book of Job. Job did nothing that you and I are not enabled to do if we will, "Acquaint ourselves with Him and be at peace." I proceeded to share with the group that Job's identity was not in his possessions, nor in his profession, his family or his wealth and health. Job's identity was in God and God alone. That's why he could be at peace when everything was unfairly taken from him. He truly acquainted himself with God and rested in God and cooperated with His grace for everything.
You and I are offered the same gift that was offered to Job. The only difference between Job and us is that he dared to open the gift daily. That gift is the presence of Jesus Christ with us, through His Holy Spirit asking us, if we want His power, in this moment, to live His life.
So when God allows us to be touched - Who is the one? What defines you? Do you join the ranks of Job and open the gift? Or does your demeanor; your attitude and your emotional response reveal that your identity is found in the item or items that were touched? Perhaps it's fame or fortune that your heart desires or it could be the false comforts of romance novels, Hollywood movies, a different man or different a woman, favorite foods or an easy life. These are honest and heart-searching questions we all need to explore in our heart of hearts.
Wouldn't it be lovely if character could be developed on a South Pacific island, while lying in a hammock, sipping lemonade while somebody fans us? Unfortunately that only feeds a present want instead of a real need. Character is determined in a crisis. The current crisis is an aid to help us open the gift. The crisis makes clear our need of Christ - a power and wisdom outside of ourselves.
I don't know about you, but I do know that when I wake up in the morning and I lift up my head, my Jesus is there to offer me His power. Even as my feet hit the floor I have a new opportunity to be empowered and receive God's grace--or go it my way.
Faith, is a funny thing. It isn't something tangible that you can see--but its effect upon your day can be seen. Already in place is God's Holy Spirit whispering to my conscience, "Why don't you make the bed?" Now, typically, my queen makes the bed. I respond, "I don't want to make the bed." Then that familiar still small voice says, "It sure would help your wife's day." The only question that remains is, will I open the gift? Quite often the opening of the gift requires sacrifice. Not that making the bed is a huge sacrifice. But my attitude toward Who's in charge is the sacrifice. Will I surrender myself to the will of my God, or will I run my day myself? How goes it with you? When you lift up your head in the morning and roll your feet out of bed, what is the gift Giver saying to you? How do you respond when the God of the universe is trying to direct your steps? First I argued and then I made the bed. Not how I wanted to make it. But how I knew Sally likes it made. How do you respond to God throughout your day? The gift of God's grace is nothing we find in ourselves, but it is God initiating and you responding, that's His grace in action!
That's sacrificing yourself for the benefit of someone else. That's opening the gift. That's how Job eventually got to where God could allow the devil to touch him in such unfair and despicable ways, in order to help you and me understand the inner results of opening the gift in a 1000 little ways, every day. This is, "acquainting ourselves with God and being at peace."
David understood this. He knew how to abide in the secret place of the Most High. He knew the freedom of how to choose which reality he would live in - the seen or the unseen world -God or circumstances. David was hunted like a dog, living in caves and hovels for over 16 years after he was told by the prophet that he would be the next king of Israel.
Which reality are you choosing, God or your circumstances? In each unique setting of our day and life, God gives us the opportunity to open the gift. Just the other day, my lovely wife Sally, asked me as she was going out the door, if I would scrub the double copper sink in our kitchen. Now she typically does that and I had a full schedule of duties and phone calls for my day. But God's gift was waiting there for me to open and open it I did. That gift is Jesus Christ, living in us, living through us, in order to enable us to live for the benefit of others.
A living faith, regardless of the circumstances and unfairness, chooses the unseen world. It chooses to surrender itself to the will of our unseen God, Who empowers each person to rise above the unfair circumstances surrounding them. Choose Him often enough in your daily circumstances and your identity will merge into God and God alone, just like Job.
Living in the secret place of the Most High, as alluded to in Psalm 91, is merely a constant trust, sustained by a continual communion and appropriated by living faith. This gift is obtained rather than attained. In other words, God brings it to you by His grace, and all you have to do is surrender to it, and depend on it, instead of trying to work it up!
Let me explain. A fellow church member stopped over to drop something off for Sally and me. I asked if she would like to stay and chat about her marriage, which I knew was in a death struggle for life. It became quite obvious that she had spun a cocoon around herself and was comfortable in her dysfunctional marriage. When I asked her if she had seen a change in her husband for the better, her response was simply that he has now become everything she wanted him to be. This was her answer to the question regarding what she was doing about opening the gift God was offering to her. Her response greatly saddened Sally and me.
She just did not want this Jesus to rule over her! Is that the issue in your life? She was aware of the gift, but it would require self-sacrifice to leave off her old ways and surrender to Jesus Christ. Her husband told me she came home spitting nails. However, the next day she made breakfast for him, helped with the dishes and began to become a new wife to him. That's opening the gift. It's giving up the old ways and learning to say, "no" to self and "yes" to God. If she does this often enough and if you do this often enough, and do it in 1000 different ways that God brings to you, you will become a Job in your own right. You will form your own identity in God and God alone. You will experience the regeneration by faith that the harlot Rahab discovered, and that qualified her for the hall of faith found in Hebrews 11. Certainly if a harlot, who knew not God, who had not the benefit of being raised in the church, could so give herself to God by opening the gift daily, so can we!
I could go on with different illustrations, but the Holy Spirit is personally calling to you as you read this. I don't know the crisis you may be in or the areas in your heart with which you struggle. I do know that all you need to do is decide if you're going to open the gift--or have it your way. May you be willing to open God's gift to you!
Opening the gift,
Jim & Sally