Then the Lord said to satan, "Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil." -- Job 1:8-11 NIV
"Does Job fear God for nothing?" Satan replied. "Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face."
I have been pondering satan's question to God for sometime. It haunts me. Do I fear God? Do I love God for nothing? If God was not so good to me, would I still love, respect and serve Him?
Wanda ate a piece of leftover flounder on Sunday afternoon before we left for Lay Aside series program at church. A rather large bone, about 3/4 of an inch, pierced her tonsil and would not come out for love nor money. She held her tongue down with a depressor while I shined a huge spotlight down her throat and probed around with a pair of tweezers. It was a sight. Funny turned to panicky after about 15 minutes.
Finally, it dawned on me to pray. What a novel idea for a preacher. Sometimes I still think God doesn't need to be bothered with "small stuff" that I can handle on my on. I was reminded I couldn't handle the small stuff alone, and it's all small stuff to God.
Papa whispered in my spirit. "We are going to get this thing out. We can do this together."
I told Wanda we were going to get it out. When I said that, there was an amazing sense of peace and confidence that filled my soul. I knew we were going to get that thing. So one last time she pressed her tongue down as far as she could, and I could see the bone clearly sticking out the bottom of her tonsil about 3/4 of an inch.
My hand and the tweezers blocked my last visual of the bone, but I probed where I had last seen it. Then I pinched the back end of the tweezers as hard as I could and pulled them back. There it was, firmly grasped in the jaws of the tweezers. I held it up in triumph like a trophy in front of my bride. The thrill of victory was sweeter than the breath we had been holding for half an hour. We were going to be OK.
In the moments thereafter, my mind began to ponder: What if I had not been able to remove the bone? What if we had taken her to the emergency room, and they couldn't remove it? What if it caused an infection that spread throughout her entire body? What if she had died as a result of a stupid fish bone? Would my love for God have been any different in that scenario?
I was once again reminded of satan's statement: "Does Kenny love, respect and trust You for nothing?"
Satan told Adam and Eve in the garden that God was not good, that He couldn't be trusted because He was a selfish old coot who cared nothing for nobody but Himself. Most people still buy that lie today. We think God is good when He's good to us. But when things don't go our way, we think God is out to get us.
I believe God made mankind in His image, and mankind returned the favor. We made God in our image. Think about that.
I tend to think God is like the people I know. No human being has ever loved me for nothing. Oh, I have some who say they do, but I don't think even the best human being has the capacity to keep loving all the time in the face of constant betrayal, abuse and rejection. I know, because I've been looking for that person all my life, and I have been bitterly disappointed. There have been a few times when my hope was high as I narrowed my search to a handful of promising lovers, but they, too, couldn't pull it off and love me for nothing.
Because people are incapable of loving me for nothing, I've developed a faulty belief system that believes God is like that, too. I cannot fathom the fact that God loves me, period, whether I'm good, bad or ugly. No one else loves me like that. But maybe that's why He is God and we are not. God knows we don't have it in us to love to that capacity. That's what makes Him so special.
I'm learning to trust Him more every day. It's difficult shedding all these layers of false beliefs I've used to put God in a box so I could control Him and figure Him out. But I'm finding He is so far beyond all of that. I don't understand Him at all anymore, and I'm surprisingly comfortable with that.
He does love me for nothing. God gets nothing from me He really needs. If I cease to exist, He is still God, and yet He loves me for nothing. Think about that.
That's why I love that old song, "It's My Desire to Live for Jesus." It says: "If you could see where Jesus brought me from to where I am today then you would know the reason why I love Him so. Now you can take this world its wealth and riches. I don't need earth's fame, 'cause it's my desire to live for Him."
I love Him for Him, because He loves me for nothing.
You think about that.
Kenny Ashley is pastor of discipleship and teaching for River Hills Community Church. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Look for more thoughts from Lake Wylie Pilot columnist Kenny Ashley by visiting his new blog, 'Just Thinking Out Loud,' at kennyashleystuff.blogspot.com.