“Words, words, words, I’m so sick of words.” Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady

 

It’s a complaint I hear frequently; its one I have often voiced myself, “It sure seems hard to hear what God is saying to me.” Of late, I’ve discovered something that might provide a clue to our dilemma: God is a gentleman; he doesn’t interrupt us while we’re talking.

 

An obvious example of what I’m talking about is the book of Job. After you get past the mystery of the opening chapters, you find that Job is, above all else, a book of words. The other thing is, those words are not just idle chatter. They are carefully researched and constructed elaborations; point and counter-point, argument and rebuttal.

 

When I read this section of Job, I picture a stage. Job sits in his grief, sackcloth and ashes at stage left. Enter: his three friends at stage right. Everybody sits down and the audience assembles in front. After a while the words start.

 

As Job opens his first argument the audience cheers. “That’s the way it is, Job; you tell this bad world all about it.” This goes on far a chapter; now it’s time for someone else to speak. The three men dare each other, “You go first.” “No, you go, you’re better at it than I am.” Eliphaz stands and gives a two chapter rebuttal. Now the audience cheers for the other side: “You tell that rich sinner the truth,” they yell.

 

And so it goes; on and on, point and counterpoint, all through the long, hot afternoon. On the fringe of the crowd, groups are forming up and taking side bets. Who will win the next round? …On and on through the afternoon. …On and on, for twenty-eight chapters. In the ritual of proper debate, Job gets to make the closing argument: It is six, long chapters, long. When it is done the narrator adds, “The words of Job are ended.” (31:40) I believe it is significant that nothing at all is accomplished until we come to this one vital point in the record.

 

What Job; what his three friends; and, for that matter, what the crowd, never suspected was that when everyone stopped talking, God himself had some words in the matter. While God and his purposes were often mentioned during those twenty-eight chapters; it is interesting to note how very self-centered the arguments are. “I,” “me,” “my,” “myself,” it goes on and on, chapter after chapter. Not until our arguments cease; not until we lay down our defenses can we hear the heart of God in a matter. Not until we cease to be “righteous in our own eyes” (32:1) will we discover the righteousness that emanates from him.

 

It’s a complaint I hear frequently; its one I have often voiced myself, “It sure seems hard to hear what God is saying to me.” More and more, I desire to “be still” and “know that he is God.”

 

Jonas J. Borntreger

© Oct. 2007 JJB

 

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