The Bible tells of a man named Job, who was blameless and upright. He feared God and shunned evil. He had seven sons and three daughters. He owned 7000 sheep, 3000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, and 500 donkeys. He was considered to be the greatest man among the people of the East. (Job 1.1-3) Job was favored and protected by God, and Satan challenged that.
To prove Job's quality, God allowed Satan to attack Job four times. Job's oxen, donkeys, and camels were stolen. His children were all killed. But Job did not charge God with doing anything wrong. So Satan challenged that since Job remained healthy, it was too easy for him. So God allowed Satan to make one more attack, against Job's health. But even covered with sores, and with no income, and with a wife that was somewhat less than supportive, Job still gave glory to God.
Now I understand how Job felt.
For folks who don't know me, let me tell you what I am. In 1977 I, with my wife's help and blessing, chose to attend seminary and enter church ministry. It was tough back then. The denomination that I belong to was leaning extremely liberal in its teachings, and my stand is conservative and Biblical. I served congregations of both the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the Independent Christian Church. I also received a clear call from God that I was to be an evangelist. I earned a Master of Theology degree, and was ordained as an Evangelist by an Independent Christian Church congregation, elders, and several Church leaders, including a leading evangelist. I continued my studies and completed the Master of Divinity degree. Then my ordination was recognized by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). I had made it! Or so I thought.
Thanks to a message given to me by another spiritual leader, I have now come to understand that I have been attacked spiritually, socially, professionally, and even physically, dozens of times. And it started the week that I chose to go to seminary. The latest attack (and the last) is the one I told about in my last blog posting.
Like I said, I now understand exactly how Job felt. A loving wife. Two daughters. (Not killed, thank the Lord!) A ministry to widows on the other side of the globe. Good income from my present job with a great company. Growing outreach in evangelistic teachings. A wonderful country home. Restoring a champion Champion bass boat and a classic sports car. Freedom and strength to fish and to hunt.
And a vicious attack came that took every bit of it away from me in an instant. To me, family and friends were gone, for I did not remember them. My job, my boss, my projects, my church membership, all gone. My education, my degrees, my authority, all destroyed. How? Because I did not know or remember any of it, nor did I feel any emotion for any of it, nor did I feel any drive to care for it. My wife survived in my mind and heart only because she was beside me. If my mind, my heart, and my soul did not come back, then all our possessions, our home, and our ministry to widows would all be torn away. The ultimate truth there was that I was exactly in Job's condition. He had pain and open sores. I had pain and full loss of mind, heart, and soul.
I was hospitalized, and doctors were able to diagnose what had happened. They explained what had happened. They never explained, though, how my memory and feelings and drive came back, because they didn't really understand it. How did all three return? God overpowered the attack. That message I mentioned earlier? It also said that I was going to come out of it all, but I had to go through it all. Just like Job.
Job and I both came to understand the same thing. We were both horribly wrong in how we felt about God. We both obeyed Him from understanding that we owed Him something, and we thought He cared about us because we were great at what we did. Job thought he owed God obedience through fear. I thought I owed God service out of obligation to the sacrifice Jesus Christ had made. We both had the same thing to say, "My ears had heard of you, but now my eyes have seen you." (Job 42.5) Job then continued to repent. "Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes." (Job 42.6) Then Job was restored to a greater position. Again, seven sons and the three most beautiful daughters in the world. 14,000 sheep. 6000 camels. 1000 yoke of oxen. 1000 donkeys.
The difference with me? Not repentance in dust and ashes. I give great thanks to God that he let me keep my daughters and all my family. Everything we own was kept safe. My response was different because now I have seen with my own eyes how God loves me. I now give Him my service for no other reason but that I love Him.