Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Whew

Tuesday after Bible study, I crash. I am exhausted.

I like to teach Bible studies like a tour guide... "And today we will visit this spectacular sight, and look at it from a number of angles." And then we do, examining scripture and drinking it in by the teaching power of the Holy Spirit.

Well, that was how I taught Hosea, and Psalms (certain selected ones). We surveyed the Bible together a couple of years ago, and then we did Matthew and the books of First and Second Kings. I loved it. I immersed myself in the scriptures during the week and arrived at class nervous and unsure, but still focused on a solid central idea and identifiable message each week.

Can I just say that studying Job is not the same?

First, it is not a book I can immerse myself in day after day. I leave study on Tuesday when it is over, and I don't even want to look at Job again. It is confusing, depressing and repetitive. In the part of the book where we are, the cycles of discussion between Job and his friends, you have to read with your back to the wall, adrenaline pumping, constantly evaluating: "What is true? What is right? Where is the mistake?" You know that Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar said things that were wrong and displeasing to God. You know because the Bible tells you in Job 42. But what exactly were their mistakes? We are finding them, but often they are cleverly hidden in smug words of purported knowledge and wisdom.

Second, I do not know this book. I am not familiar with the ins and outs. Before this study, I did not know the personalities of Job's friends, or their arguments, or even Job's. I am no tour guide. A fellow stomper-through-the-brush is more like it. And sometimes the path we tread one week looks suspiciously like the path we trod the previous week. I think this happens for two reasons... (1) Job is a repetitive book, largely, and... (2) Barring the book's own repetitive nature, we sometimes have to go back and re-wrestle with truths that were hard to absorb the previous week. This is tough medicine. Very tough.

So I get out and instead of feeling, as I so often felt last year, "Thank you Lord Jesus for the precious time we just shared in Your Word together," I often just feel like, "Whew." And then I sigh, exhale, puff out my cheeks and look at my Bible and have a melancholy wish that I didn't have to go right back to it. To Job.

You have to get away from something like that now and then. I try to read other passages, a Psalm when I am down, a passage in Isaiah (I've been reading a lot of Isaiah lately). Then there is the 3rd and 4th grade Sunday school class I have been teaching. They have been doing the partiarchs, and now we are moving into the judges. But somehow, Job seems to cast such a pallor over everything.

If I am not in God's will, I'm sure He will do something about it. He won't leave me to flounder indefinitely. I truly thought He was calling me to teach Job. I didn't even want to teach it, but I had the feeling that if I didn't, I would be dodging God's plan for me. I never thought I was smart enough to teach it, but I did trust that He could use even me, and gift me with what I needed for the task... but I am not sensing that I am gifted in this way at this time.

My prayer is that God will use this all in spite of me, that He will touch lives in spite of my shortcomings, that He will capture hearts in spite of my discouragement, and in the end that I, too, will find His blessing.

This was not at all what I was going to write about. I was going to write about four-wheeling with Shawn on our land. But this is what came out. Is that odd?

1 comment:

WRPfohl said...

Ruth,

I think you have eloquently expressed what many feel as they read books like Job and Ecclesiastes. What is man's wisdom and what is God's? I personally think we need books like this so that we will read more carefully other scripture. We need to use caution when building our doctrine.

Thanks for your honesty!

Walter