Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Wrestling With God

Every other year, for the last 16 years, I read all the way through the Bible. This is that year for me.

I'm reading in Job right now. I used to just hate this book -- mostly because I didn't understand it. My thoughts vacillate wildly...

God was completely unfair, cruel even;
The words of his friends often sounded right, true, yet God rebukes them;
I hate that there are no sound answers, nothing gets answered or settled.
I want crisp, clean lines. Clarity. Definitive answers. Job does not give that.

Job's friends were like me. They needed clarity. They needed
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right versus wrong. Us versus them. Formulas that leave no room for doubt, error or failure.

Just as they did, I forget - I get things twisted, I "major on the minors", I screw things up, I don't love, I'm selfish and unforgiving.  I want to be right, yet even when I'm right, I'm often still wrong.

I can get caught up in the drama. Who is right and who is wrong; who said this or that; the list making; the defending and posturing; the attacking; the quoting and misquoting.

With Job's friends, God shuts the whole thing down. And I find it ironic that He shuts down all the arguing, posturing, judgment - not with answers, but with questions. Questions they couldn't answer. Questions we can't answer.

Why? Because He is the answer.

I'm learning to lean into the doubt just a bit. Learning to rest in the unknown - in the unknowable.

I have spent my life leaning on formulas that promised clarity and blessing, but formulas always disappoint. I've spent way too much time trying to figure out who is right and who is wrong, and not nearly enough time with Jesus.

I've become angry and cynical with those who know it all (myself among them).  It's all beginning to sound like Job's counselors in my ears. All. The. Answers. Many of them sound really good, true even. But, as with Job's friends, they're missing the point.

When we make it about us, we fight all the time.  We wrestle and cast easy answers and judgements about.  We don't love enough.  We have to be right.  Always.

When we make it about Him, we can let some of that go.  We can be as patient in people's searching as He has always been.  We can love people right where they are - right OR wrong , as He always has.  We can slosh through the doubts because He walks with us in that journey. We can make it safe to struggle. Because, as with Job, God's still got this.

It's about Him.


So. Here's what I've determined to do...

I'm going to keep leaning in to my doubts, the unknowns. He is there in the midst of it.

I will look my doubts in the face and not be ashamed of them. God is big.  He is certainly big enough to not be threatened by my questions - He was not threatened by Job's and I don't believe He's threatened by mine.  I'm going to keep asking questions, searching ... knowing I will likely never have all the answers.

But I'm tired of fighting - tired of needing to always be right - and certain.

I'll wrestle with God, but I'm not wrestling with you anymore.

I will love  - without having to have all the answers.
I will love extravagantly.
I will get my hands dirty.
I will learn to say, "I don't know," and be okay with it.
I will worship because He is worthy.
I will celebrate because there is still much good to celebrate.
I will rejoice because He will one day fix all of this and make all things new.

I will try to rest. I will never have all the answers. But just as Job learned, He is the answer. That's enough.