Lent 2018 assignment


This is posted by Nathan Hershberger for Joy.

Job 14:1-2 A mortal, born of woman, few of days and full of trouble, comes up like a flower and withers, flees like a shadow and does not last.”

Confession first: I’ve not spent much time in the book of Job. I wonder if you are anything like me? It makes me uncomfortable. In all honestly, so much of the Old Testament can be challenging to me in this way. However, if I look at the Bible comprehensively, I see that the Old Testament is pointing us to the New, to Christ! So, although I am no expert in Job, I am a follower of Christ, and I think even Job’s words in this passage are giving us a full glimpse at God’s story and the Good News for those who have “ears to hear” it.
As mortals, “born of woman” it feels like Job is taking us back to the beginning, to Eve, the mother of all living (Genesis 3:20). However, this birth does not bring us eternal life. Just as Adam and Eve fell from God’s eternal paradise, we are destined to do the same, unless. Unless we are born of water and the Spirit. Jesus gives this clear instruction to Nicodemus and to us in John 3:5, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit.” Two categories, a very important distinction.
This distinction is important as we continue in the passage. Life is “few of days and full of trouble”. Whether we live to one or one hundred, our days in this life are short and with each passing year seem to go by faster and faster. Short and hard. Job certainly new this. We know this. For those who are born of the spirit, it is good for us to acknowledge and give thanks to God for His many ways of helping us through His provision and presence. We also have the gift of life eternal, that begins now as we walk with God, and continues into the next life.
That mortal life “withers like a flower” again is a distinction between life in the flesh and life in the spirit. While life in the flesh may allure us, it’s attrativeness will not last. Life in the flesh will wither. It is only life in the spirit that will sustain us. If we connect this to 1 Peter 1 24-25, “’For all flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord endures forever.’ That word is the good news that was announced to you.” Only Christ’s redemptive work on our behalf will remain when all of the flesh has withered away.
While shadows obstruct light, just as sin obstructs our communion with God, Christ is the source of light, and He is everlasting. Job again is pointing us to Christ and to life everlasting that is found in Him. Christ is our connection to communion with God, now and forever.

On New Year’s Resolutions: Joy

The first day of a new year always feels so full of promise: “Let this be the year; the year that I finally do all of the things I’ve been trying to do or change about myself throughout my life.” You know, the year that I will finally take care of myself. I will have quiet time every day. I will eat clean and workout 4-5 times a week. I will stop emotionally eating. I will take ME time regularly. I will invest in meaningful friendships. I will finally organize my entire house (including the most dreaded basement) and follow a cleaning plan. I will declutter and become a faithful minimalist. I will play with and encourage my kids more. I will teach them how to be self-sufficient little people who will happily do chores and learn how to responsibly manage their money. I will responsibly manage my money. I will cheerfully sit down with my husband to create a budget that will snowball our way out of debt and I will cheerfully stick to it- every month! I will creatively and intentionally pursue communication and meaningful interaction with the man I love- no more passing ships in the night. I will find energy- somehow, someway, to do all of this- because this shall be the year.
In reality, if I’m honest, yes, I want all of these things. I am also a strange combination of realistic enough and skeptical to realize that most of, if not all of these things, are likely to remain as they have throughout my accumulating years.
However, as I enter 2017, there is a deep longing for things to be different. Not different as in “I hate my life and want to switch with someone.” Different as in the last year, for me as it has been for many that I know, has been exceedingly difficult. Not that it has been filled with all bad things, although some of the things I could certainly do without. Just hard. So, as I look into this new year I do so with a sense of longing, for knowledge about questions I have had for a long time. Longing for answers that will allow me to love the people in my life more effectively. Longing for peace, that in the middle of these storms can only be found at the feet of Jesus.
As I step forward into this year, I do so prayerfully. I pray that I will remember each day to treat myself and others with dignity. I pray that the Lord will continue to knit my husband and I together. That we will enter into this year with the strength of unity and determination. That God will bless our family and help us continue to unravel the mysteries that exist in each of us. I pray that we will take the lessons we have learned thus far as gifts to help us on our journey. I pray that my children will know each day that they are loved and cherished. That each of us will be mindful of the great blessings we have- placing each other at the top of that list. And as I sit here on New Year’s Day, writing a piece that my husband asked me to have finished a week ago, maybe, just maybe, I’ll add “stop procrastinating” to that first list.