Picture a vast kingdom with a mountain in the center. On this mountain lives the High King. His kingdom is experiencing Civil War. There is one king, who is king of all. But one side is loyal, while the other side are rebels. Now imagine that the leader of the rebellion must get permission from the king before he leads any attack. He has to bring his plans and have them approved before he does anything. Imagine the conversations between this rebellion leader and the king …
The rebel leader slinks into the weekly meeting along with all of the king’s loyal servants and tries to grit his teeth through the familiar humiliation.
King: What have you been up to lately?
Rebel Leader: Oh, not much. Just wandering through your kingdom looking for potential new recruits and weak places in your defenses… I mean, admiring all your mighty forces and thinking that I might as well give up because I’ve got no chance of defeating you!
King: Right. Well, I’m sure you’ve noticed my man, John Doe. He’s a very mighty warrior and very loyal to me!
Rebel Leader: Well, duh! You’ve only given him the choicest property in the kingdom and so many livestock and servants he needs managers to manage all his managers! Yeah, I’ve noticed him. Must be nice to be the king’s favorite. I bet if you were to take some of those gifts back he’d be singing another tune. He might be looking for a new leader then!
King: All right, go ahead and take all that you want from him. I give you permission to do whatever you want as long as you don’t kill him.
So the rebel leader gleefully heads down the mountain to visit poor, unsuspecting John Doe. First he steals half his livestock, then he kills the other half. He hires some mercenaries to kidnap all of John’s kids, and finally starts a wildfire that burns all of John’s buildings. Then he sits up on a hill to watch the fun. He makes sure the locals know where to find him so John won’t have any trouble when he decides to switch sides! He waits and waits and waits. Eventually bored and baffled, he gets out his binoculars to find out what is taking so long.
He sees John. Not trudging tearfully up the hill to join the enemy, but sitting in the ashes of his former glory with his face turned resolutely to the mountain of the king.
Does this story sound familiar? You may know John as Job and recognize this story from the Bible. The king is God and the rebel leader is Satan. If you haven’t ever read it for yourself I highly recommend you do. Especially the first chapter and the last. There’s a lot of good stuff in between, but today I’m going to focus on the beginning and ending of this epic love story.
Love story? Yes. Love story.
You see, God loved Job. Because He loved Job, He blessed him. Job was the richest guy around. He had land and livestock and servants and children. He had it good. Because God had blessed him, Job loved God with all his heart and tried to live each day to please his King.
Yes, God loved Job. So He wanted Job to have the best of everything. The best of material blessings and the best of spiritual blessings. What are spiritual blessings? They are gifts from God that can’t be seen. But they are just as real as the things surrounding you.
God loved Job, so He allowed Satan to carry out his worst attacks on His most loyal servant. He knew that while Job thought that he knew God and loved God, he actually had experienced just a small part of Who God Is. And though he did love that part to the best of his ability, there was so much more that he had never even glimpsed.
God loved Job. When everything that had defined who Job was had been taken from him, he was finally able to see that God was the only Thing he needed. Up until this moment everyone knew that God loved Job – just look at how he had been blessed. But now Job was able to see better than anyone else that the “stuff” wasn’t the blessing. Even his children whom he loved so much that he prayed for them and offered sacrifices on their behalf just in case they might have sinned in their hearts, they were blessings that were distracting Job from the Blesser. So what did he discover on that ash heap?
Romans 1:25 says: They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen.
It’s easy to do. Eyesight is an amazing part of being human. But, it can also be a huge distraction. When we see beautiful things we are pleased. When we see ugly things we are disgusted. But how often do we stop with what our physical eyes see and don’t probe any deeper? I know I am often guilty of making judgements based on how a person – a unique, precious creation of God – looks. Yes, our physical appearances make us unique, from our skin/hair/eye color combinations to our fingerprints. But when it comes to people, it truly is what’s inside that counts. God has designed each person with an intricate pattern of personality traits, talents, and passions that make them far more beautiful than any fake Photoshopped image on a magazine cover. These are the things that are easier experienced than seen. In fact, our eyesight will most likely keep us from really seeing many of the people we encounter today.
So what did Job see when all that he knew and loved was swept from sight?
God loved Job and God was still there when all His blessings – all the physical proof Job had had that God loved him – were stripped away.
At the end of the story we hear Job’s confession: Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know… My ears had heard of You but now my eyes have seen You. (Job 42:3,5)
What distracts you from really seeing God? Christians can usually list a few things that they think might be keeping them from a deeper relationship with God, but we don’t usually think of our blessings this way. We might list busyness or exhaustion or even Facebook. But what about the wonderful things and people God has given you? Worship of things and people that God has given us is a deceptively innocent practice that we probably won’t even realize we are guilty of until those things/people have been taken away.
“You don’t know what you got till it’s gone.” That may be true, but you also don’t know what you worship till it’s gone. Let’s make sure that the only One that can never be taken away, the only One who loves you no matter what, the only One who is truly worthy, is the only One who receives our worship.
The image of the castle came from this website: http://xdesktopwallpapers.com/a-fabulous-castle-on-the-top-of-mountain-25213.php
The image of Job is Job on the Dunghill by Gonzalo Carrasco and you can find out more information here: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Gonzalo_Carrasco_-_Job_on_the_Dunghill_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg