Going back to Job, we see that he makes the same assumption in chapter 29 when he reverts to reviewing his life before his trial began, in “those months of old.” While trying to survive my crisis in Ann Arbor, the only comfort I had were the memories of effective ministry in Kalamazoo. Ironically, those “precious” memories were also the cause of much of my pain.
During this time of reflection, Job draws a vivid picture of his inner and outer life as a man who truly walked in fellowship with God. He also unconsciously reveals why the Lord probably placed him in the crucible, in the first place.
His very first words show that there was a little bit more work that had to be done, a further stage of surrender to God that he still had to learn. Without hesitation, he had bowed to the will of God when blow after blow came on him at the beginning of the whole ordeal. However, during his prolonged suffering, when he was in essence being poured from vessel to vessel of pain and suffering, it never occurred to him, or to me during my crisis, that to let our minds dwell on our past experiences, and crave their return, was not a full abandonment to God nor a total acceptance of His character, love and purpose.
It has been said that you need an absolute surrender to the will of God in the heat of battle to never look back with regret on the past, or forward with any wish for the future. It’s obvious that those regrets or desires are inconsistent with a true and complete abandonment of our whole being to God.
Satan knows this. That is why he will continually occupy our minds with what we once were, and, apparently are not now, or what we should be and seem not to be! If you constantly compare yourself with yourself, it will destroy your present rest in the purpose and perfect plan of God.
That one thing alone almost destroyed me when we moved to Ann Arbor. “Oh that I were as in the months of old.” If only things could be like they used to be.
Job says very little about his wealth, loss of property and home, because his heart wasn’t focused on those things. Instead, he dwells mainly on his fellowship with God and his life of service for others.
Experiencing the Cross
It was at this point that I found the answers to my own trial. My complaint, and apparently Job’s, wasn’t the loss of things, but the cloud that apparently came over our fellowship with God.
Like Job, my memory went back to when I knew the Lord was watching over me, guarding and guiding every step of my life. It was almost as if a lamp was shining on my head and it did not matter if deep darkness was all around me because the Lord would “light my path,” and I would walk right through that darkness.
“Oh that those blessed days were mine again.” It seemed as though everything I put my hand to prospered. Then, when we moved to Ann Arbor, everything changed. Sure, deep down inside I knew the Lord was with me and would never forsake me, but I just couldn’t understand this new aspect of His dealings. I can’t describe the pain of walking through darkness with absolutely no light on the path. I had absolutely no certainty of being led by His light through the darkness that surrounded me. In reality, I was being led by the Holy Spirit off the path of illumination, into a walk of pure faith in the Faithful One.
I never realized how much I had relied on the “light” of God, instead of on God Himself. All this time I was walking by sight when the path was lit and not by faith alone.
Just like Job, I knew what I had lost, but it is not until you are put in a situation of total loss that you finally get a glimpse of the depth and width of the “way of the cross.” It then becomes more than theory or doctrine, it becomes your life. It is like graduating from college. You spent all that time learning the theories and studying the principles, now it’s time to experience the real world.
Job’s own language plainly shows his position. God was watching over him. The lamp of God was shining upon him. His light shone upon his path. Job was to lose all this for a deeper and more intimate knowledge of God Himself and gain a deeper understanding of His ways, a knowledge which is only possible to a faith that rests on the character of God alone. It is a faith that says, “I don’t know all the whys and wherefores, but I know my Lord’s desire is for good, not for evil.”
If you are interested, you can download the whole study of Job.
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