As we draw closer and closer to our actual “going” to Hungary, we often pray and consider the actual daily work we will be doing among the people we will get to share life with. There is pressure to plan well, not only for life but for the ministry. When we are old & gray (or bald) and we look back on our years in Hungary, what will we want to have accomplished so that we can say “Yes, this was successful.”?
In the scripture reading this morning from “For God So Loved” (A Devotional for Lent), Dr. Dan Boone has us consider the story of Job. Chapter one tells us he was “blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil.” It talks about the material and familial blessings Job has, and even his sacrificial devotion to the Holy state of the hearts of his children. Satan says what any of us might say of a “famous” Christian who has multiple best-sellers or platinum albums, a vacation home in the south and whose children are all happy and healthy: “Of course they’re praising God, they’ve had nothing to complain about.”
The story moves on and many of us are familiar with how faithful Job is, even when satan is allowed to test every aspect of his devotion. Even at his worst, when he is crying out to God and asking why – he remains devoted. Many of us strive to be one version of Job or the other. Job is the one who has stories written about his blessings, and of his devotion in suffering. But what if we’re not him?
There are plenty of other faithful servants in the story: “and the Sabeans…killed the servants with the edge of the sword” (v.15), “..the fire of God fell…and consumed them” (v.16) “The Chaldeans…killed the servants with the edge of the sword” (v.17)
These servants were all quite possibly following the Lord, and serving faithfully in every way. Yet their stories were cut short, in submission to the larger narrative of God and His people. Along with Job’s sons and daughters, we may never know their names or their stories. Yet they gave everything.
During Lent, we humble ourselves and confess both our temptations and our limits. We confess that we are tempted to strive toward measurable success, and/or faithfulness that will be celebrated. We are tempted to be the one of whom stories are written. We confess that, like the unnamed servants and children, we are powerless to be anything more than dependent on God to whose Narrative we surrender all we are – and all we are becoming.
May we strive – not to be Job, but to be faithful…whether we’re named or not.