Job 42:3 I uttered things too wonderful for me…

A testimony.  (Part 3)

If I was reading a map on this journey with my son, this would be Landmark number 2.

One of the hardest prayers I was every led to say, silently, was this: “Father, please do whatever it takes to save my son.”

If you are a Christian, then you know what I am implying.  That destruction awaits those that do not take refuge in the finished work of the cross of Jesus Christ.  And you will understand I did not want to be eternally parted from my child. If you are not a Christian, you will think this all lunacy.  If you are struggling as a believer, you will know what I am saying and cringe.

I cringed as I prayed that prayer.

My son was talking about joining the Marines.  Something I wouldn’t have minded if I knew where his heart was.  If I had assurance that he was obediently following what he believed God was asking him to do.  But he wasn’t.  He was lost, far from the fold of God.  He wanted to join out of patriotism, a love of country and a sense of duty.  All noble.  But not best.  No, not best.

To accept Christ’s finished work on the cross for your personal salvation, is to believe stupendously that you are now dead to yourself and alive in Christ.  It is a new birth through the work of His indwelling Holy Spirit and we acknowledge we were bought with a price.  And what a price, the Son of the Living God suffered and fulfilled a plethora of Old Testament prophecies.  He became servant to man, but not to flesh.

He became man to do what we could not do for ourselves, He lived a perfect sinless life and then was sacrificed for us.  And the wood, the torture, the blood, the suffering, the silence…things which we despise, He used to overthrow death, once and for all.

That is the stupendous promise we believers cling to. That is the stupendous claim that He made.

And in the cringe, I waited to see what it would take.  Like a small child peaking behind fingers covering eyes, I wondered what would it take to open the eyes of my son’s heart? What would it take for him to know that God was out there, larger than life, and right here, closer than a sigh?

The following Sunday we were on our way home from our inner city church, Springs of Grace.  A church full of perfectly fallible people just like us. Imperfectly serving our God, just like us. Longing to glorify God by their lives, just like us. A church full of people I love.

My husband was driving, it was a beautiful day, uneventful.  Our son was still coming to church with us, his honor and respect for us allowed it, we didn’t force it.  Faith doesn’t force.  It loves.  It gives grace and room.

Like I said, my husband was driving, I was the passenger, all the kids were in the back seats.  We were on 244 in North Tulsa heading westbound, heading home.  A car was coming straight at us.  You need to understand this is a four lane highway, 65 mph.

And he was heading straight towards us, at 65 or more mph, in our lane. My husband swerved to the inside, so did the car.  I thought, this is it…

I didn’t know how this could not be it.

Then the oncoming car swerved and I thought he would just clip me, which, in hindsight, I realize still would have killed us all.

And somehow…somehow…he missed us…

That day could have been our last day.  Scripture talks about the first death which leads to a judgement before God.  The second death is reserved for those who have not taken refuge in Christ.  He is holding out a hand, extended in salvation.  Will you listen?

The car flanked to my right and missed four cars behind us…God’s temporal and eternal plans never thwarted.

And I knew.  I knew it in my heart of hearts that this was the answer to that “dangerous” prayer I had silently, cringingly pleaded.

I shared with my family…I uttered solemn warning that we are not promised today.  Life is a vapor and we are like the grass in the field.

Only the fool says in his heart that there is no God.

5 thoughts on “Job 42:3 I uttered things too wonderful for me…

  1. Here is my response. You were not hit by that car. How awful if you had been. I would still be crying and mourning.

    I would like to solidly believe, Sarah, in divine providence but  it seems so arbitrary. A near miss here, unanswered prayers there. I would like to say that churches are bastions of hope, but experience proves otherwise. The history of the ‘church’ is not a pretty one and all I’m saying is that it should be a “perfected” example of godliness at work — practice what it preaches. Instead, I  see silliness and flippancy and “worldly” believers doing “worldly”  things and totally failing to see how double minded they are. I see  mega ministries laying up the treasures they condemn. Kingdoms within kingdoms, cliques, factions.

    Then I think about  God’s nature and how it has manifested and changed through the generations, and the violence attendant upon that nature.  I’ve been reading the Old Testament and am now up to Jeremiah and what comes across is an angry, punishing God who demands and orders the killing of babies and whose commandments cover a strange spectrum of behaviors called Law — A jealous deity who kills His enemies when we are told in the NT to love them.  I’ve honestly never seen this before. I think I must have just glided over those passages and inconsistencies in the past in my desire to clothe  him with radiance and all and give him the benefit of the doubt.

    There are some real questions I’ve always been afraid until now to ask. I feel I must ask them.

    But that doesn’t change my love for my family which has always been constant, if very flawed.

    I don’t want to cling to false hopes. Those are the household gods like Rachel hid, like the Israelites hid in the wilderness, like humanity always worships.

    I’m getting sleepy now.  Take care. Always, Mom  

    M. McReynolds

  2. I believe He is good. I have become convinced of it by His actions, love and mercy in my life. But that is experiential at best. I pray that all your false hopes fall away and dissipate like a fog when the sun rises.

    May you taste and see that He is good.

  3. Hi Mary,
    I also have been reading the Old Testament (along with the New) and have been puzzled by the complete wiping out of people groups before the Israelites. But I keep coming back to the fact that first and foremost, God is completely sovereign and can do whatever He wants with his creation. (I recall the potter and clay analogy, Isaiah 45.)

    Another fact that we have to understand is that God is utterly and completely HOLY and desired His chosen people to be holy. To preserve them for His ultimate purpose of salvation for the entire world through the Messiah, He had to set them apart and keep them from the evil idol worshippers all about them. If not for God’s intervention, the Israelites wouldn’t have survived for 42 generations until the time the Messiah was born.

    We must never forget that somewhere along the way, people stopped teaching their children about the God who created them, a sad fact evidenced in all of those evil nations that God, for and through the Israelites, annihilated. They all had, in past generations, known the true God. Through their choosing sin and rebellion, they brought judgment upon themselves. When people sin, even innocent children suffer, a fact we see all too often today.

    Another thing God keeps reminding me of is that the Old Testament events are a foreshadowing of the New Covenant wherein we gain salvation from the Most High God through the Messiah. In a sense, we can think of the sometimes troubling events of the Old Testament as evidence of God’s desire to completely wipe out unholiness and sin. We can look back at the Old Testament and be reminded how our completely holy God does not tolerate unholiness, therefore requiring some sort of restitution on our part. We have to be made holy to be in His presence. Under the New Covenant, the only One who can make us righteous enough to be in God’s presence is the sinless One, Jesus Christ. Everything in the Old Testament points to Christ somehow.

    As to the seemingly arbitrariness of divine providence, well, that is a contradiction in terms. He is either sovereign or He is not. If He is not sovereign, then He is not God. If the potter doesn’t have complete control over the clay he is shaping, then is he truly the potter or just a bystander?

    As to unanswered prayers, He hears and answers every single one. But perhaps we don’t recognize the answers because we have either asked amiss (James 4:3) or because the Holy Spirit has transformed our request into what we really should have asked for (Romans 8:26-27).

    Yes, there are times when people do get hit by cars and die. There are countless times when others don’t. The Word teaches that our times are in His hands (Psalm 31:15) and that the number of our days is ordained by God (Psalm 139:16). I heard a preacher say once that we are here until God is done with us. That may sound harsh, but in reality, the truth of it brings peace and security. The Most High God, who IS love (1 John 4:8), holds my life in His hand. There is no other place I’d rather be.

    Regarding the church, the TRUE church of believers will be perfected when Jesus returns for His bride. Meanwhile, we are being sanctified and becoming more like Him. Yes, there are problems with false religion and heresy, as there always has been. The root is the father of lies, satan, who desires to destroy the works of God. But I think of it like this: just because there are criminals in society who cause us to have to lock our homes and closely guard our children doesn’t mean I give up and withdraw from society or don’t have children because something bad might happen to them. The “bad apple spoils the whole bunch” doesn’t have to be true. False religion doesn’t have to spoil true faith in the one and only God. It’s up to each individual to search out the truth and to surrender to Jesus in order to truly know Him. Will we have all the answers here? No. Can we intimately know Someone who does have all the answers? Absolutely!

    As to the Word of God, we must approach it with the premise that it is perfect and infallible. Otherwise, we will doubt and misinterpret at every turn. If we perceive inconsistencies, we have to return to the premise that the Word is infallible and that we ARE fallible, so the seeming inconsistencies would lie with our inability to understand, not with the Word itself. That realization should drive us to keep searching, while surrendering our own hearts and minds to His truth. We must be WILLING to see what He wants us to see, not just what we wish was there. His thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9). That’s one reason why He is God and we are most definitely not.

    God is not intimidated or angered by our questions. I should think He prefers questions over indifference. And the right questions can lead us to the truth–if we are willing to hear it. But regardless of whether we accept truth or whether we reject it, it is still true. Our rejection has no effect on the truth itself, but it does have an effect on us…eternally.

    I pray God’s richest blessings of peace and discernment on you as you seek Him.

    Respectfully,
    Janice

  4. Since I posted, I looked up the word “providence” in the dictionary and realized it means “protective or spiritual care” rather than related to sovereignty. However, even in this context, my response would be the same, except with a reference to the fact that since God is love, He does consistently care for us. Sovereignly.

  5. Dearest grandma Moe,

    I remember when we were little how the cousins and I would sit on your bed and listen to you passionately tell Bible stories to us, many times from memory. I remember being in awe at your reverence to that sacred book that you so lovingly cherished. I remember how you would correct us with loving discipline when we fought with each other or talked back to you or J.E. What I remember is a godly woman, so engrossed with her task to teach her precious grandchildren the Word of God that she took every opportunity that she could to teach us His teachings.

    Reading your doubts disturbs me to my core. My soul cries out for you to be reassured of the love that God has for us. I want you to be so convinced of the love of Christ that you have no lingering doubts at all of His perfect character. God is love. God sent His only begotten Son to take the place of us on the cross, Jesus took the wrath of God almighty Himself upon His own head. Jesus suffered terribly for us because He loves us, He wants us to be saved through His blood and suffering, and by the grace of God we are able to be called His children. Yes, God is love.

    God is also justice.

    Do not be mistaken, God is an incredibly jealous God. He abhors sin. The God of the Old Testament is the very same God of the New Testament. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Unchanging is He. There is something that you must realize about the nature of the Creator of the universe: He abhors sin and requires reconciliation for every evil deed, thought, and word ever committed in the history of the world. God is the perfect Judge, justice was His idea. Tell me, if you can, what kind of a judge would let a murderer go free with no punishment? The judge that says:

    “Oh, you murdered my daughter, huh? Well, I will tell you what, I am a perfectly loving judge, and I do not want you to suffer, so you just go head and walk out of this courtroom and we will pretend like this never happened. I forgive you this time.”

    Sounds good from the murderers perspective, does it not? But what does it look like from the perspective of the jury, or the family of the judge, or the city that he let the murderer go free in? It looks like a terribly corrupt judge that is not fit to hold the gavel. Is that what God did for us? Did He simply tell us that our sins are acceptable because He is perfectly loving? NO! God does not ignore our sins! Remember, God requires reconciliation for every sin. How can He forgive us then? Because He sent his only perfect Son to take the punishment that we deserve. God does not ignore our sin, He atones for it. Because of the work of Jesus we are looked at by God as being blameless. Jesus is our salvation from the punishment that we all deserve.

    Why did God exact vengeance to entire nations of people in the writings of the Old Testament? Why did God send His perfect Son to die for us on the cross? The answer to both is very simple. The answer is this: God is justice. God is love. God. Is. Sovereign. Who are we to question His motives? Are we able to stand and question the all powerful Creator of the universe, the almighty King of kings, the unchanging God of heaven and earth, the One who gives and takes away? I think not. We are the creation of God, and God is absolutely sovereign. We can rest assured in the perfect knowledge that God is totally perfect. He has no character flaws. Is God capable of sinning? Is He able to do something wrong? NO! We know that everything God has done throughout history is absolutely, sovereignly, and perfectly right. It is our own understanding of what God has done that is wrong. We are fallible creatures, prone to being arrogant enough to think we have the right to question God. Our understanding of God is wrong, God is right. What we ought to do, then, is read the Bible for what it really is: the perfect Word of God. We must approach the Bible as being infallible, we must come to the realization that we are flawed, but God is perfect. Therefore, when we read something in the Bible that is difficult to wrap our minds around, we must remember that our minds are not perfect. As the children of God that we are, we must be willing to be molded around God. We must not try to mold God around us. To do so is heresy, blasphemy, and idolatry. For when we begin picking and choosing from the characteristics of God to fit our own agendas, we are no longer worshiping the one true God; at that point we have created an idol, and that would make us idolaters. God abhors idolatry.

    It seems as if this passage was written for us in times of doubt:

    “What advantage then has the Jew, or what is the profit of circumcision? Much in every way! Chiefly because to them were committed the oracles of God. For what if some did not believe? Will their unbelief make the faithfulness of God without effect? Certainly not! Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar. As it is written: “That You may be justified in Your words, and may overcome when You are judged.” But if unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unjust who inflicts wrath? (I speak as a man) Certainly not! For then how will God judge the world?”- Romans chapter 3:1-6

    Therefore, be encouraged in the knowledge that God is sovereign. He is able to condemn who He wills, and He is able to save who He wills. God is God, and I am man. Instead of critiquing God for what we think He has done wrong, praise Him for what we know He has done right! Rest assured in the secure hope that God has paid for our sins with His perfect Son, Jesus. Be ecstatic in the knowledge that God has saved us, and is returning for His bride, the church, very soon! We will not always be in this fallen world; one day we will be with God for eternity, praising His great name forevermore!

    Be encouraged in the faith, dearest grandma Moe.

    Your loving grandson,
    Jacob

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