Where Were You

Have you ever been put in your place? Has a moment of brash talk ever resulted in someone “setting you straight”? It hurts, doesn’t it? I’ve been there and felt that. In hindsight, it was not so much a punishing experience as it was a learning experience. These moments of correction are painful, and often necessary. But we have to be open to their instruction … that’s the trick.

In today’s passage we find God giving Job the ultimate moment of instruction. Wowzers, this is a doozy. God begins by calling Job a “darkening counsel” and says that Job’s words lack knowledge:

Job 38 (Common English Bible)

Then the Lord answered Job from the whirlwind:

Who is this darkening counsel
    with words lacking knowledge?
Prepare yourself like a man;
    I will interrogate you, and you will respond to me.

Yikes. But as you read this next part, see how God describes all of his omnipotent power in a way that is reassuring, even as Job is being rebuked:

The establishing of order

Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundations?
    Tell me if you know.
Who set its measurements? Surely you know.
    Who stretched a measuring tape on it?
On what were its footings sunk;
    who laid its cornerstone,
    while the morning stars sang in unison
        and all the divine beings shouted?

Can you issue an order to the clouds
    so their abundant waters cover you?
35 Can you send lightning so that it goes
    and then says to you, “I’m here”?
36 Who put wisdom in remote places,
    or who gave understanding to a rooster?
37 Who is wise enough to count the clouds,
        and who can tilt heaven’s water containers
38     so that dust becomes mud
        and clods of dirt adhere?

If you needed to be reminded of who is in control, this is it. God sends lightning and wisdom alike. He counts the clouds, tilts heaven’s water containers, and gives understanding to the rooster. Can you do that?

Lion and raven

39 Can you hunt prey for the lion
    or fill the cravings of lion cubs?
40 They lie in their den,
    lie in ambush in their lair.
41 Who provides food for the raven
    when its young cry to God,
    move about without food?

Job is a righteous man who experiences a humbling lesson. So should we. But rather than receive these words as a chastisement, as Job had to, may we embrace them as a beautiful reminder that God is God … and we are not.

Thanks be to God!

Smart Kitty Hawkers

Snap Judgement

In Malcolm Gladwell’s marvelous book Blink, he shares a story of a statue sold to the Getty Museum for ten million dollars. The museum spent fourteen months authenticating the statue. It met every standard of a sixth century BC kourous, a Greek statue of a nude boy standing with his left foot forward and his hands to his side. Less than 200 kouroi exist today, and most are in very poor condition.

The statue went on display and a group of museum experts from around the world were invited to the opening. Suddenly, there was a problem. It didn’t “look right” to some of the guests. An Italian art historian who served on the Getty’s board of trustees, a foremost expert on Greek sculpture, and the former director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York all agreed that something was “off” with the sculpture.

It was sent to Athens for further authentication, and immediately experts there had the same reaction. George Despinis, the head of the Acropolis Museum in Athens, said that he thought it was a fake because when he first saw it, he felt an “intuitive repulsion.”

Further testing was done…it turned out that the statue was a fake.

Gladwell calls the ability to make a snap judgement “adaptive unconscious.” He points out that our intuitive response to things, and how we come to a conclusion with little information in the first seconds of seeing something, is a gift we have but don’t use. I bet you’ve been in a situation where a truth is finally revealed and your first thought was, “I KNEW something was wrong!” Yet for some reason, you diverted your mind away from seeing the reality in front of you. Adaptive unconscious is a God-given ability that we somehow don’t trust.

As God reminded Job, the gift of insight comes from God alone:

Job 38:35-38 Living Bible (TLB)

36 “Who gives intuition and instinct? 37-38 Who is wise enough to number all the clouds? Who can tilt the water jars of heaven, when everything is dust and clods?”

And Paul encourages us to seek God’s gift of spiritual knowledge and insight:

Philippians 1 Living Bible (TLB)

9 My prayer for you is that you will overflow more and more with love for others, and at the same time keep on growing in spiritual knowledge and insight, 10 for I want you always to see clearly the difference between right and wrong, and to be inwardly clean, no one being able to criticize you from now until our Lord returns.

I think we see, and then don’t want to see, so we look away. I have done this. I saw signs and symptoms of a problem that didn’t immediately add up. My gut told me one thing, but I couldn’t see what I was seeing. I was manipulated into a state of unbelief until the truth was revealed, and I realized, “I KNEW something was wrong.” I wish I had trusted my adaptive unconscious response and allowed God to show me the truth sooner. It might have averted some genuine pain later.

I think God calls us to a higher knowledge. I think God equips us with a Holy Spirit-informed insight. I think we look away because it’s too painful to see what is right in front of us.

What is staring you in the face right now that you are refusing to see? Where is God sending you signals and signs of warning? What is the truth you refuse to acknowledge?

Allowing God to speak truth by the power of the Holy Spirit through your insight will enable you to clearly see the difference between right and wrong, and to be inwardly clean. So open your eyes. Open your mind. Keep on growing in spiritual knowledge and insight. And don’t blink.

Fall Moon by Mary Anne Mong Cramer.