Foreshadowing

job

You will call and I will answer you;
    you will long for the creature your hands have made.
Surely then you will count my steps
    but not keep track of my sin.
My offenses will be sealed up in a bag;
    you will cover over my sin.
Job 14:15-17 (NIV)

The book of Job is an epic poem (bookended with a prose prologue and epilogue). It was likely an ancient story and scholars suggest that the protagonist of the story lived sometime between 1000 and 2000 B.C. The story of Job and his three friends was likely shared through oral tradition for many generations before a Hebrew poet and scribe penned it in the form and structure we read today. The date is unknown, but historians place the books writing anywhere between the reign of Solomon and when the Babylonians conquered Jerusalem and forced the Hebrews into exile which would put it roughly 600-1000 years before Christ.

Realizing that we’re reading a poem penned so many centuries before Jesus was born, what struck me in today’s chapter was the foreshadowing of Jesus that came out in Job’s words:

You will call and I will answer you;

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” – Jesus

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” – Jesus

You will long for the creature your hands have made.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son…. John 3:16

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.” – Jesus

Surely then you will count my steps,

“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.  Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” – Jesus

but not keep track of my sin.
My offenses will be sealed up in a bag;
    you will cover over my sin.

“This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” – Jesus

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

God is telling a story, and it is woven through His Message. Job is a part of that story. His ancient words not only speak to me of my very present human condition, but also foreshadow a chapter of God’s story which would not unfold for many millennia.

This morning, I’m thankful for the rich layers of story and of meaning told through Job, and through the books of law, and history, and wisdom. I’m thankful for the ways I daily relate to them these thousands of years later, and the ways they richly reveal God’s story as it unfolds across time.

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The Crossroad of God’s Silence

source: shibanov via Flickr

source: shibanov via Flickr

Then summon me and I will answer,
    or let me speak, and you reply to me.
Job 13:22 (NIV)

This past Saturday night Wendy and I went to see a production of Rabbit Hole at Central College here in town. The play is an intimate look at a married couple struggling with the accidental death of their young son. It is a wonderfully written script, though certainly not an easy one to act or a comfortable one to watch. It is a continuation of the questions with which Job and his friends are grappling.

After the show Wendy and I spent some time unpacking our thoughts and feelings about the play. To be honest, it stirred some of the same deep questions and emotions Wendy and I struggle with in our journey of infertility. Like Job, like Rabbit Hole, our own experiences are simply a different facet of the same stone.

In this morning’s chapter, Job alludes to one thing Wendy and I have found incredibly difficult in our own journey, and which we saw allusion to on stage the other night. When you are walking through senseless suffering, you want an explanation from God.

Please God, simply reply to my questions. Sit down and explain to me ‘why.’ If I’ve done something to deserve this, I want to know what it is. If there is a reason for me to suffer this, then by all means lay it out for me so I can process it and move on.”

But, God remains silent.

I have found this intersection of my questions and God’s silence to be a crossroad. It is a crossroad which beckons me to choose. I can choose out, raise my middle finger to heaven, and walk away from God. I can choose in and press forward being assured of what I hope for based on evidence I do not yet see. It is a crossroad at which most all of us will stand at some point in our life journey. Despite the throng of people who have stood there before, those standing on either side, and those waiting their turn behind us, we each stand at the crossroad oblivious of the crowd. When we stand at this crossroad, we feel utterly alone.

I have equally found that this crossroad is not a one-and-done affair. No matter what I choose in the moment today, I find myself standing there again another day. When I choose out at the crossroad yesterday, then God leads me back to it. I have discovered again and again that God is big on second chances. If I chose in yesterday, then I will go to a play tonight that leads me back to the crossroad mulling over the same questions, feeling the same silence, faced with the same choice once again.

Today, I’m praying for all who find ourselves standing at the crossroad hearing God’s deafening silence. Despite our feelings to the contrary, we are not alone. We’re standing here together.

I’m choosing in.
Again.

You’re welcome to join me.

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Wisdom, Age and Suffering

source: mythoto via Flickr

source: mythoto via Flickr

Is not wisdom found among the aged?
Does not long life bring understanding?
Job 12:12 (NIV)

Wisdom is, indeed, found among the aged.
Still, I’ve known many an old fool.

Long life does not necessarily bring understanding, Job.
But, it seems to me that suffering does. If it doesn’t break you.

I just can’t always perceive the increase of understanding when I’m still in the midst of the pain.

Press on.

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I Wonder if Love Isn’t the Best Defense

Superman Band-AidOh, how I wish that God would speak,
that he would open his lips against you
and disclose to you the secrets of wisdom,
for true wisdom has two sides.
Job 11:5-6a (NIV)

I remember a young man with whom I went to school. It was the 1980s. While most of us were accenting our permed mullets with parachute pants and Forenza sweaters as we carried our Jansport backpacks to class, this well cropped young man was wearing a three piece suit and carrying his Samsonite briefcase. He was a firebrand. Always speaking from a well entrenched position of know-it-all-ness, he seemed to have assumed the role of God’s attorney. His truth was God’s truth and he was ready to make his case whether you wanted to hear it or not.

I thought of my classmate this morning as I read the treatise of Job’s third friend, Zophar, who finally speaks up. He’s heard Eliphaz and Bildad have a go at Job, and he’s heard Job’s responses. Zo’s soliloquy starts off like a boiling pot blowing its top. Zo seems to feel the need to defend God from Job’s word. Like my friend from school, he takes on the role of God’s attorney, speaking on behalf of the Almighty.

What I find most interesting in Zophar’s message is that he is at once chastising Job for assuming he knows the mind of God and making the same assumptions about Job. Like his other two amigos, Zo speaks from an assumptive position of knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that Job has done something sinful to deserve God’s wrath and punishment.

I have to be honest. When I ponder Job’s friends, I not only think of my briefcase toting friend, but I also see shades of myself 30 years ago. The further I get in my own personal life journey the less passionate I feel about defending God with my words and the more passionate I feel about simply representing Him with my loving actions. Zophar asks Job if he thinks he can fathom the mysteries of God, and I am increasingly comfortable with the fact that I cannot.

This morning, I’m thinking about what I would do or say if I were one of Job’s friends, sitting with my buddy on the ash heap. The truth is, I’m not sure I would try to make sense of it. I would tell Job I love him. I’d admit that I don’t get it either, and I would apologize that I don’t have any answers. Then, I’d ask if there’s anything I can get him to ease his suffering. A cup of cold water, perhaps. Some Superman Band-Aids for those sores? Maybe telling a bad joke or two in an effort to coax a smile. It still falls short of meeting the depth of Job’s need, but I feel like it comes closer than what I’ve seen from Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar.

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Capturing The Process Behind the Performance

A Christmas Carol RehearsalI love the process of theatre as much as the performance. It is also one of the things about the stage that I love to capture with a camera. Most people attend a play or a musical at some point in their lives, but few see the process of rehearsals, character development, set construction, make-up, and lighting. It’s such a fascinating thing to be a part of, and to watch taking place. The magic of theatre is the culmination of an amazing amount of human effort, and it creates so many opportunities for interesting photos.

Wendy and I have bit parts in this holiday’s production of A Christmas Carol and the other week I had my camera with me at rehearsal. In this shot, Lonnie Appleby (playing Scrooge) is sequestered in fear on his four-poster bed which at this stage of the production is nothing more than a bench with a couple of posts screwed on. I’ve loved watching Lonnie play with and develop the physicality of the role and I liked the way this photo catches the contortion he’s both developing and which is being forced upon him by the set piece.

 

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Assumptions, Miscommunication, and Conflict

source: loonatic via Flickr

source: loonatic via Flickr

“But this is what you concealed in your heart,
    and I know that this was in your mind….”
Job 10:13 (NIV)

A couple of weeks ago I sat with my daughter and we had a very frank discussion about life and relationship. We talked about a myriad of things. It was one of those intense and emotional conversations that, once it is over, is hard to recall in anything but bits and pieces. It was time to clear the relational air over which a fog has existed for some time. I recognized that it was a conversation that happens to provide clarity and definition between parent and child when a child is transforming into an adult.  It wasn’t a pleasant conversation, though I believe that it was both healthy and necessary. Clearing the air is sometimes a prerequisite to making progress in life. It provides necessary focus to answer the questions:

  • “Where have I/we been?”
  • “Where am I/are we at?”
  • “Where am I/are we going?”

In the midst of this event I was reminded of a truth I’ve come to realize and embrace along life’s journey. Most conflicts can be traced back to miscommunication. The miscommunication can be an incorrect assumption about what another person thinks, believes, or perceives. The miscommunication can be confusion over the meaning and intent of something that was said. The miscommunication can be confusion over what was said and what was heard. Conflict can almost always be traced back to miscommunication.

I was struck this morning as I read Job’s diatribe how many assumptions he makes in his conflict with God:

  • “But this is what you concealed in your heart” (I know what God thinks)
  • “I know that this was in your mind” (I know the mind of God)
  • “If I hold my head high, you stalk me like a lion” (I know God’s intention)
  • “You bring new witnesses against me and increase your anger toward me” (I know that my sufferings are an execution of your misdirected justice)

That’s a lot of assumptions to make, especially about the Almighty.

Today, I’m thinking about my own penchant for making assumptions about what others think, believe, intend, and feel. I am seeking forgiveness for my foolish pride, which motivates and is at the root of such assumptions. I am seeking to make a little progress in the area of actually communicating with others rather than assuming I know what is in their hearts and on their minds.

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Chihuly at the Denver Botanical Gardens

Yesterday I posted one of my photos of Dale Chihuly‘s gorgeous glass artwork from an exhibition at the Denver Botanical Gardens. Here are several more that I shot last week at the exhibition (you can click on any photo to see a larger image). I can’t get over how beautiful and thought provoking I found the juxtaposition of the glasswork within the natural surroundings of the gardens. I’m only sorry we couldn’t have stayed until the evening when the glasswork is illuminated. I can only imagine how enchanting it is.

Photos taken with Canon EOS 6D
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