The Bare Soul - October 21 2012
The Crucified Life

Job 13:15 - Though He slay me, I will hope in Him. Nevertheless I will argue my ways before Him.

When I was in the throes of my alcoholism, I had frequent conversations with God. Most of them were of the sort as "what's  a nice guy like me doing in this sort of predicament?" As most of us know, addiction is a self-perpetuated illness that has only one treatment -- abstinence. Whether it is truly a disease or not is for others to decide. I know in my case it meant coming to a place of both desire and the need for the power to change. While I often possessed the former, I came up short time and again with the latter. When Jesus finally delivered me from alcoholism, it was a final blow to my addiction which I have not returned to in more than 20 years at the time of this writing. There but for the grace of God go I again if I ever believe otherwise regarding Who empowered me to overcome this awful beast. My gratitude is reflected in my continued understanding that to indulge in the smallest measure of alcohol would be to "uncrucify" myself from what once enslaved me.

It is one thing to be wallowing in sin and complaining to God about one's woes. It is quite another to be as Job and to know you have done "the next right thing" repeatedly. Then, to witness your life come crashing down around you is beyond mortal comprehension. The patriarch knew his life was blameless according to the knowledge God had provided him and his friends. However, as Job's story continues and we hear from God in the final chapters of this book, we then understand how little we know. In the final judgment, neither myself or Job "deserved" anything other than the wisdom of how God decided to order our lives. What played out was for God to decide. Fortunately, the outcome in both cases was good from human standards. God restored Job's health and fortunes as well as giving me wholeness and prosperity once again. But God was not obliged to do either. It is sometimes impossible to know exactly when the Lord will deliver us. It is certainly not on our time-table. And in deliverance there is always a crucifixion of sorts allowing something within us to die and God's new life within us to begin. Where and when this will happen is often an enigma. God never changes and deals with people in the same manner throughout time. While Job's crucifixion and resurrection was markedly different than that of a disciple of our Lord's a few thousand years later, it nonetheless arrived at the same conclusion.

From our lead verse, we can see Job's willingness to get through his crucifixion of self and to resurrect into the true knowledge of the Lord in this trying situation. Likewise, Peter made a bold promise to Jesus that fateful Passover night nearly 2000 years ago. The difference between Job and Peter concerning their resolve to die for God were their respective crucifixions. While it has already been established how Job lived millennia before Christ's sacrifice, he understood how death to self and trust in God was the great difference. When Peter proclaimed his allegiance to Jesus and said boldly he was ready to die for His Lord, he was only part right. He would indeed die for Jesus, but he would only truly begin this journey of death after understanding crucifixion. From that point on, it became a selfless adventure toward his inevitable fate. For both the patriarch and the disciple, there needed to be a stepping through the veil of ignorance to a place of divine understanding.

Job had some understanding of crucifixion while he was going through his struggles. Once he was on the other side he truly understood its great significance. (Even our Lord felt the anguish of separation from His Father's counsel when He shouted from the cross His feeling that He had been forsaken [Matthew 27:46]). Are we like Peter before the cross, trying to choose the place of our death? Or are we like Job who no longer sees himself as his friends did in their misunderstanding of his intent. Once we bow to crucifixion and our old man of self-centeredness, then we will we say like Job ... it matters not where or when we die -- we are God's no matter the outcome.

Father, while we will never understand Your total counsel, we will trust in You when we when we go through our respective crucifixions. Help us not to attempt to choose the place of our death, but to embrace it when it comes. For in so doing, Your promise of resurrection is on the other side. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Your Barefoot Servant,

Rick

 

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