Between the final chapter of Job and the reading from John’s Gospel, I see ever more clearly how only by losing all but our faith in Him and at the same time, His in us, do we live authentically and fully in Him and our lives will truly glorify Him.
This is so very hard for me to understand, let alone believe – that the false has to die for the truth in us and of Him to live abundantly, that something has to fall to live upright.
24Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit
Job, a man of God, seemingly loses it all and no possible rational reason suffices. He loses his wife, children, provision, reputation and vocation in one fell swoop. A life that he had faithfully, earnestly, unselfishly, lovingly lived for the first half of his life, is shattered.
I thought of Richard Rohr’s work on True Self, False Self, and his recent book, Falling Upward, as I re-read Job this past week. In some ways it illustrated exactly what Rohr speaks about – two halves of our life, the first having to be lost, deconstructed, or taken away in order for us to accept the life ordained by God so that it can be lived to glorify God.
Richard Rohr describes the first half this way:
The task of the first half of life is to create a proper container for one’s life and to answer the first essential questions: “What makes me significant?”, “How can I support myself?”, and “Who will go with me?” As Mary Oliver puts it, “. . . what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” (“The Summer Day”). The container is not an end in itself, but exists for the sake of your deeper and fullest life, which you largely do not know about yourself! Far too many people just keep doing repair work on the container itself and never “throw their nets into the deep” (John 21:6) to bring in the huge catch that awaits them.
Problematically, the first task invests so much of our blood, sweat, eggs and sperm, tears and years that we often cannot imagine there is a second task, or that anything more could be expected of us. “The old wineskins are good enough” (Luke 5:39), we say, even though according to Jesus they often cannot hold the new wine. According to Jesus, if we do not get some new wineskins, “the wine and the wineskins will both be lost” (Luke 5:37).
Rohr is writing often about those believers really growing and maturing with God over a life time. I understand his work to be, in part, about sanctification – how individuals and communities – are encouraged by the Holy Spirit to live a life that glorifies.
I found his recent remarks about this process wildly applicable to Job and the last chapter today.
Remember this: no one can keep you from the second half of life except yourself. Nothing can inhibit your second journey except your own lack of courage, patience, and imagination. Your second journey is all yours to walk or to avoid. My conviction is that some falling apart of the first journey is necessary for this to happen, so do not waste a moment of time lamenting poor parenting, lost jobs, failed relationships, physical handicaps, gender identity, economic poverty, or even the tragedy of any kind of abuse. Pain is part of the deal. If you don’t walk into the second half of your own life, it is you who do not want it. God will always give you exactly what you truly want and desire. So make sure you desire, desire deeply, desire yourself, desire God, and desire everything good, true, and beautiful.
Not even Job’s “friends” could keep him from the second half of life that God not only intended for him, but blessed beyond his own imagination, as well.
And all along and despite Job’s pushing back, fighting with God, lamenting, seemingly giving up, Job was passionate about life – the one he seemingly lost, to be sure, but passionate nonetheless evincing what Rohr speaks of above as desiring and desiring deeply and most of all God.
And whod’a thunk it? Beyond Job’s imagination, beyond his prayer but not beyond his Abba Father, at the end of his day, Job bore much fruit.