Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Feeling Our Smallness

There's a certain teaching - a rather harsh, though somehow still popular teaching - that this silence that we feel before the Lord is exactly what He desires of us. That we're supposed to feel nothing greater than our own smallness when we stand in His presence. That if we have a moment like this one, where He has answered us, it is supposed to "put us in our place" and make us realize how really insignificant that we are in the grand scheme of things. This teaching would consider it a victory that we don't ask for anything else from God because it would be confirmation that we have accepted how very little we truly know. 

I absolutely despise this certain teaching. It's simply not biblical. 

In fact, it's really a challenge to everything that we know about God and faith. 

The teaching itself comes, I think, from the book of Job, where Job "dares" to stand before God and ask a bunch of questions and God responds with a bunch of questions of His own that reveal how very little Job really understands about, well, anything. That's the common reading of Job; it's the one preachers love to harp on.'s really uncharacteristic in terms of who God reveals Himself to be in the Scriptures when we read it this way. Isn't it?

I just don't see a whole lot of God thundering from the heavens in His self-righteousness to tell His people how things really are. I don't see a whole lot of God looming large over His people so that they know without a doubt that they live in His powerful shadow. I don't see a whole lot of God doing this sort of thing even with His enemies, even with the nations that He says make Him angry. Even in the times when He is jealous. If you look through the Scriptures for other examples of this God that we think we find in won't find Him. If you look anywhere else in the Bible for an example of this God who is, quite frankly, a bully, you won't find Him. 

I think we're reading Job wrong. 

And I think our wrong reading of Job has led us into an understanding of God that He never wanted us to have. Namely this, that God's goal is for us to feel our own smallness. 

I think God wants us to feel our own belovedness. I think God's goal for us in His presence is to know how much He loves us. 

Love...changes everything. Love is that thing that settles the soul. Love is that thing that satisfies all of the questions. When you know someone loves you, you trust them. You know that they're acting out of love, and you feel the loveliness of being you. You feel the loveliness of your life. You feel that love flowing through every pore of your being, and you don't have to yearn and ache and want any more because love is simply that satisfying. 

I think when God was talking to Job, what God was saying was that He knows intimately the details of every facet of creation, that He knows with great care the smallest truths about everything. That He wove together literally all of it with such tenderness and intention that these circumstances in Job's life, too, are held with the same amount of care. With the same amount of love. 

Have you ever heard a little kid trying to tell you everything he knows about some video game you've never heard of? How he goes on and on about all the powers that the characters have and their backstories and the adventures they're on and the point of the game and all the cool places that he gets to go with them and on and on and on, and you don't get it. And then, he picks up the little plushie of his video game character and hugs it and you understand that he loves this thing. 

That's how I see God in the book of Job. Filled with the excitement of the wonder of all of the little things that He knows and loves about His creation, and He's sharing that deep love and that intimate knowledge with Job in a series of questions. Hey, hey, Job, do you know this one? I know this one! Did you know how I take this one here and do this and do that? I do! And then God hugs an ostrich and Job gets it - this is a God filled with a wondrous love. 

He's no bully. 

And that's how I feel every time in the presence of God. This is a God who loves His creation, a God who loves me. This is a God who gets excited about all of the little things that He knows about, well, everything, and this love just pours out of Him. There's nothing like it, and you can't miss it. And it just puts your heart and your soul at rest because you just trust the love of God. That's why we don't ask for anything else. 

We already have everything. God...loves us. He truly loves us. 

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