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spiritual exercises: Job 1:21 and 38:1 – 40:5 October 12, 2006

Posted by introspectreangel in prayer, theology.
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“Naked I came from my mother’s womb…I must bow down before the creator’s wisdom.”

In the NRSV, chapter 38 of Job starts out with this:

“Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind: who is this
that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Gird up your
loins like a man, I will question you, and you shall declare to me.”

The Message says this:

“And now, finally, God answered Job from the eye of a violent
storm. He said: “Why do you confuse the issue? Why do you talk
without knowing what you’re talking about? Pull yourself together, Job!
Up on your feet! Stand tall! I have some questions for you, and I want
some straight answers.”

Ah ha! I get it now. While the last several years have seen me make a career transition from hotel professional to social worker (a downward trajectory according to our society, not to mention my mother, so can anyone please tell me why I’m enjoying myself so damn much?), when I’m doing one-on-one with people, I always seem to slip into the vernacular seen in the latter translation. Doesn’t matter what your job is: I think I’ve met more than my fair share of people who just don’t seem to get it, whatever “it” happens to be. So when God says to Job, “Up on your feet!” THAT makes sense to me. It’s how I was spoken to as a child when I was in the wrong, and it’s how I speak to others now. I consider myself to have a good head on my shoulders. I also know that I am “beautifully and wonderfully made”, and yet, just like Job, I confuse the issue. I keep thinking that I’ve got it all figured that, that I know what needs to be done to accomplish the objective at hand, and I keep getting knocked off my feet. And it’s starting to occur to me that I need to take more time to just LISTEN. I think our latest change of residence may wind up being very conducive to that: the directions to my house include the words “turn left on the unmarked dirt road”, and the house has a neat back porch that looks out over a whole lot of nothing. It’s tough, though. To me, words are power. Having a good vocabulary, being able to explain myself clearly and concisely, having a knowledge of grammar and sentence structure – these all lead to the perception in others that I am intelligent and accomplished. The fact that I know how to use language is a big part of what I use to reassure myself that I am still the same person I’ve always been when everything else in my life is sliding around and it appears that I may not be so intelligent after all. And this attitude of mine towards language and intelligence is really a small symptom of the larger sickness of having to be in control of…well, just about everything else. This passage hits me where it hurts. It says, “It’s not about YOU. Once in awhile, you just might need to GIVE UP.”

So, what do I most hope to get out of this retreat? I think it would have to be this:

“I’m speechless, in awe—words fail me. I should never have
opened my mouth! I’ve talked too much, way too much. I’m
ready to shut up and listen.”
-Job 40:3-5 (The Message)

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