Because the Next Chapter Has Nothing (and Everything) to Do With Us

My new chronological Bible changes things up.

Interrupts history with the pain-filled story of Job.

Slips it right in between the death of Joseph and the arrival of Moses.

Uninvited.

Leaving us on the edge of our seat as Joseph dies and the Israelites are left alone in Egypt for several generations –

Growing in numbers while weakening in power.

And isn’t this the way life goes?

We’re smack dab in the middle of living.

Our family story being written day by day.

We live.

And love.

Then turn the page to discover a chapter we weren’t expecting.

Or wanting.

An earth-shattering phone call.

A devastating medical report.

An unfaithful spouse.

There’s so many things that can turn our world upside down –

in just a second’s time.

And that’s how Job arrives in the pages of my new Bible,

turning the story of the redemption of God’s people

into the story of what feels like His abandonment of one of them.

How could a God who had just been showing up in dreams

be so silent in the life of a man who had been trying so hard to please Him?

I remember feeling just like Job.

Unable to feel God’s presence in a time of great sadness.

Undeserving of such great pain and loss.

Questioning God’s love for me.

Wondering why I was being punished –

when I had tried so hard to live for Him.

Be a good wife.

Be a good mom.

Be a good friend.

Be a good daughter.

The list went on and on.

I felt as if all the things I had worked so hard to “be” had not been quite enough.

And that’s where Job finds himself today.

Proclaiming all the reasons he is undeserving of this chapter.

Demanding an audience with God so he can “give an account of all his steps.”

I cringed as I read Job’s words this morning.

They had never hit me quite so sharply right between the eyes.

Job’s problem wasn’t unrighteousness.

His problem was self-righteousness.

Announcing his good deeds.

Seeking attention at the city gate.

If he would have had social media,

everyone would have known

what his right AND left hand were doing.

I love the meme that says,

“If you want to feed the homeless,

feed them.  

But the minute you talk about it on social media,

you’re also feeding your ego.”

Job’s ego had been fed time and time again.

And needed to be fed even more.

Even in his suffering.

Maybe that’s why his story is being shared before the Israelites enter the wilderness.

Because manna will get old.

But the story of Job never will.

The “God who provides” isn’t into feeding egos.

And the news feed to follow in Exodus won’t be filled with many things to “like.”

So Job pours out his complaints for most of today’s reading (Job 30-32).

And speaks long enough to make the younger generation angry.

And one of them can take it no more.

Elihu has heard enough.

He steps to the microphone.

Takes center stage.

Ready to let Job and his three “wise” friends hear the thoughts he can no longer keep inside.

“I am full of words,

and my spirit compels me to speak.

My heart is like unvented wine;

it is about to burst like new wineskins.

I must speak so that I can find relief;

I must open my lips and respond.

I will be partial to no one,

and I will not give anyone an undeserved title.”

Job 31:18-21

And today’s reading ends.

Just like that.

Tomorrow (just like the next generation),

Elihu will speak.

So what do we do while we wait for him (and them) to have the floor?

How is God speaking to me and you today?

I think He’s saying,

“The next generation is watching.

Listening.

Learning.

What messages are you sending with your words?

Do your actions (and your posts) glorify you or glorify Me?”

Life is a dramatic story.

Pages turn every day.

And you never know what the next chapter will hold.

No matter how tightly you hold to the Author.

Righteousness isn’t made up of actions or deeds.  

Or able to spare us from pain.

Righteousness consists of a humble heart,

fully aware of and thankful for

the power of the One

who gives and takes away.

Live a life today that makes the next generation better –

Not confused.

Or angry.”

There’s always a next chapter in life.

And you have nothing (and everything) to do with the words it will contain.

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