Pushing Limits, June 18.2012

Job 38:4-11 
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?
Who enclosed the Sea behind doors
when it burst forth from the womb,
when I made the clouds its garment,
the dense clouds its wrap,
when I imposed my limit for it,
put on a bar and doors
and said, “You may come this far, no farther;
here your proud waves stop”?
In the epic tale of God’s conversation with Job these words come to Job out of a whirlwind. It’s almost as if God is saying, “Listen up Job, let’s review a few things here…”I must admit the first image that comes to mind when I read these verses is of a mother saying to their child, “I carried you in my womb for nine months, I struggled and worked through hours of labor… I could of died! Then I fed you and clothed you and loved you, I sent you to school, I listen when you talk and hold and hug and love on you when you cry… and you dare question my motives? You dare question my decisions?”

Have you heard a lecture like that one? The “After all I’ve done for you” lecture? Maybe you’ve heard it or maybe you’ve given it yourself. Most of us know what it means to give of ourselves, our time, our passion, our lives and most of us have also had someone push on our boundaries or question our significance. It seems as if it’s human nature to test boundaries.

I remember when my boys were little and I read somewhere (probably in a fit of desperation) not to worry that my child behaved all day at school and then came home and unleashed his crabby, bossy and mischievous self. The ‘expert’ assured me that my child was pushing boundaries where he felt the most comfortable, where he knew he would be loved no matter what. As I washed chalk off the wall for the hundredth time I remember thinking, “well maybe he’s a bit too comfortable.”

But maybe Job is comfortable enough with God to push God’s buttons. To shake his fist at the heavens and say, “Hey you, aren’t you going to fix this? Can’t you do better than this? I’m miserable here!” And it seems Job’s God is comfortable enough to dish it right back. “Were you there at the beginning of the world?” God asks Job. “Do you have any idea the power I have? Look around, you’ve seen my work!” It’s almost as if God is saying, “Don’t you even know me? Come on Job, I’ve got this.”

I like this conversational and sassy image of God. This God as a mother that’s just not going to put up with any nonsense. Not because God’s love isn’t big enough or strong enough to handle the pressure. Not because God hates questions. But because God insists that we recognize the depth and breadth of God’s work in us and in all of creation. Because God insists that we recognize and remember that we are not alone in this. Even in the midst of anger, despair and chaos God is with us. God has been with us from the very beginning — since the first song was sung by the first morning star; since the first giant wave rolled across the ocean and God’s not going anywhere. God’s got this.

May you live into the knowledge that God won’t leave you,
even if you have doubts or push on the boundaries of God,
even if you ask God questions or shake your fist in anger or despair.
May God’s love surround you,
May you see it in the beauty and power of God’s creation,
and in the eyes and loving touch of one another.



Musical Meditation