|“After the Whirlwind”, by Nigel Wynter|
Lectionary Passage: Job 38:1-7, (34-41)
To read this passage online, go to http://bible.oremus.org/?ql=217564661
Boy, thirty-seven chapters is a long time to wait! Job has waited, begged, screamed, and threatened to just throw it all in and walk away and finally, in this 38th hour, God speaks. Now you could read it as if God is some sort of tease dangling hope in front of us until we just can’t take it anymore and then suddenly stepping in as some sort of pumped up superhero. Or you could read it as if God had some permanent unyielding plan that outlined when it was Job’s turn for God’s time and when it was not. Or perhaps you could read it that the omnipresent God is not, that God comes when God comes and the rest of the time God eludes us. I think, though, that the problem rests not with God but with us. And rather than God teasing us or avoiding us or eluding us or existing as some sort of passive-aggressive super-deity, perhaps we are somehow blinded to that ever-presence of God.
Maybe God had been speaking the whole time. Maybe in the midst of Job’s pleas and Job’s demands, God really was speaking. Maybe Job was just so wrapped up in trying to figure out an answer that he missed God’s Presence in his life. Maybe the only answer for which Job was listening was not the answer at all. Maybe Job was so sure what the “right” answer was that he wasn’t open to what God was offering in his life. But when Job reaches the depths of despair, when Job is silenced by everything that has happened, when the noisy friends finally shut up, it is there, there in the silence, that God speaks. But rather than a booming answering voice demanding apologies or repentance, once again God speaks Job into being. It is not the voice of the judging God that Job’s friends had claimed would come and set Job straight but is instead the eternal voice of the Creator, once again speaking all that is into being just as God did in the beginning and every moment since. The whirlwind is not to be confused with a tornado or a hurricane or some other destructive phenomenon. It is instead the creative, life-changing force that, though undefined and unexplained, is the very voice of God speaking us into being.
And Job is reminded to look around, to look at all of Creation that has been laid down, to breathe in that which Job cannot make and cannot control. Long ago, the rabbinical teachings noted that of all the animals listed as God’s handiwork–lion, raven, the wild ass, the wild ox, the ostrich, the hawk, the eagle, etc.–none had any real use to humanity. In other words, the ordering of Creation is not about us; it is about God. God doesn’t punish Job but rather subtly (well, as subtle as a whirlwind can be, I suppose!) reminds him that God is always present, always speaking Creation into being. God doesn’t offer answers, as much as we think that would clear everything up. Rather, God offers Presence and Love. And that’s probably all God needs to say.
And after the speech, Job is changed. He doesn’t have any more answers than before. But what he does have is the realization that in all things, there is a God who is waiting to pick him up or hold him or cradle him in the arms of Love. The realization came not because Job had faith and not because he believed in some rumor of a God that he learned in Sunday School but because in the depths of his life, he met God and finally the two began to dance. Perhaps God does not desire our allegiance or our belief or some sort of blindly obedient faith. Maybe God’s deepest desire is for us to make room in our lives and in our thoughts and in our prayers for God to speak us into being once again. Shhhh! God is about to speak…
Grace and Peace,