By: Richard Gazowsky
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I’ll never forget, back in the early 80’s, when I was riding in the car with a famous Christian writer. It was only after he told me he was dealing with cancer in his own body that he confided the only struggle he had in life was between him and God. He’d come to the understanding that God’s will was completely sovereign and he had no ability to influence or change it. He leaned against the car window and said, “Richard, men who think they can command God don’t know Him. Like Job, I’m humbled by God’s will.”
This famous writer’s words hit me with shivers of confusion in what I’d thought was my rock-solid confession of faith. At the time I thought I could literally command God and He would have to obey my act of faith because I was in perfect obedience with God’s word. I have learned so much since. Especially how extremely immature and stupid my premise was: that I could even be perfectly obedient to God’s wonderful will. Though the Christian writer went on to be with the Lord, he left this young preacher wrestling with his own relationship with God.
This past Sunday I set aside time to read the entire book of Job from the Message Bible. I’d never read the whole book through before. To be honest, I’d always found Job a little depressing, and that the book lacked insight into the power of faith and its ability to cause one to avoid difficult situations, regarding health or otherwise. But my experiences of the last few years have caused all of my previous thoughts on this matter to come into question. I didn’t realize that in most cases God uses difficult circumstances to purify you with fire in order to get sin issues out of your life. A year and a half ago God warned me that He was going to bring me into a time of purification.
I knew that the Scripture made it very clear that Abraham was not made righteous by what he did for God. Instead, Abraham was called righteous when he entered into what God was doing for him. I then saw a picture of myself going through a fire of testing and my family was with me on this. I didn’t know what lay before me, but I can tell you (now that I’ve been1 1/2 years into it) that it has been joyously enlightening and completely wonderful for my whole family. You must understand one thing about God’s perfect will. He is a real gentleman. He never wants to torture you, or make you feel miserable for no reason. But if He is going to correct you, and you are ready to have a good attitude about it, it will be one of the greatest experiences of your life.
During this period of testing I found myself experiencing three or four long periods of physical attacks. I can clearly assess that each one was a purifying experience that cleansed the thoughts and intents of my heart. As I read the book of Job, I realized that the entire premise of the book was about God trusting Job that he would not charge the Lord foolishly for the trauma that satan was going to bring him through. After Job lost his children, livestock, and all but four servants, satan said to God, “Job will surely curse You if You touch his physical health.”
Suddenly Job found himself suffering from horrendous boils over his whole body. At this point Job’s “miserable” comforters came to sit by him and try to figure out what was going on. For the next thirty-five chapters we read Job’s friends’ assessments of his situation. What’s amazing is that they constantly challenged the integrity of Job and God. In other words, they questioned God as to why He did what He did. Wow! I finally saw myself, and the major question that had always troubled my mind. And it wasn’t, “Why was God bringing physical ailments upon my body?”
I had been questioning God concerning other areas in my life that had nothing to do with my health. For example I would ask, “Why do we have corrupt leaders in our nation?” And, “Why was there so much injustice in our government, in my place of employment, and even in my own family?” I suddenly realized that I had nothing in me but judgment and it had caused me to make unbalanced assessments about everything around me. I saw how inaccurate my conclusions regarding life, as I saw it, were. I was misjudging everything. (In fact, I discovered I shouldn’t be judging anything, but I will deal more with this on the Monday morning blog.)
The real issue is that Job was righteous. He never once judged God. That was the point of the entire test God brought Job through. When God finally faced Job and spoke to him directly, He made it clear that Job had not been in a position to assess or judge anything, which Job humbly agreed with. That is the point I’m trying to get through to you. We must realize that we are in no position to judge anyone. As the Scripture says, “Judgment is Mine, saith the Lord, I will repay.” Didn’t Jesus ask us not to judge lest we receive the same measure we give out?
So, as you look at situations around you, do you have the ability to judge them correctly? I think all of us are now going to have to answer, “No, we don’t. “ So then, do we become a group of mindless followers that have no opinion concerning anything? No, that’s not the solution either. The answer is simple, yet so profound. And, if we’re not careful it will brush by us like a whiff of wind: “The Son can do nothing unless He sees the Father do it.” Yes, it all comes down to obedience, obedience, obedience. Paul told us that there is no condemnation to those who walk after the Spirit and not after the flesh. It’s actually a simple lifestyle, but such a hard place to come to because we have so many preconceived ideas working against us. But, oh, how much I want to be there…
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Richard Gazowsky pastors a church in San Francisco called The Voice of Pentecost, and is also president of Christian WYSIWYG Filmworks. He has directed the films, “Guardians” and “The Roman Trilogy.”