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More stories than could be written

by davesandel on February 7th, 2021

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, February 7, 2021               (today’s lectionary)

More stories than could be written

Job groans, “Is not man’s life on earth a drudgery? I have been assigned months of misery and troubled nights. The night drags on, and I am restless until dawn. But my days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle, and they come to an end without hope. My life is like the wind. I will never see happiness again.”

So much changed between Jesus and Job. Job the man of great lament, who had heard of Yahweh and finally was able to see him, and then David the worshipper, who praised God in the morning and praised God in the evening and killed Goliath in the afternoon.

Praise the Lord, who heals the broken-hearted, binds up their wounds, and knows them all by name. The Lord sustains the lowly; it is fitting to praise him.

And Paul, who did not see Jesus in the flesh, but saw him far more clearly in the spirit, and followed him for the rest of his purposeful but often persecuted life. This Jesus that he followed, who healed anyone who asked and freed those he touched from demons and fear and anxiety, Paul wants me to follow this Jesus too.

If I preach the gospel, this is no reason for me to boast. When I preach I offer the gospel free of charge. And I myself am free, but I make myself a slave to all so as to win over as many as possible. To the weak I become weak, and I have become all things to all, to save at least some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, and I hope also to have a share in it.

The stories about Jesus? John said, “Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples which are not recorded in this book” (John 20:30) And two stories later he said it again, boundless in his enthusiasm. “Jesus did many other things as well, and if every one of them were written down, then I suppose even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written” (John 21:25). Can you just imagine?

So this is just the tip of the iceberg:

Simon’s mother-in-law was sick. Jesus grasped her hand and the fever left her. Soon the whole town was gathered at the door, and he cured many who were sick and drove out many demons. But then rising very early before dawn, he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed.

Which story is about you? Which story is about me? When Jesus prayed, did he see the faces of those he would meet later that day? Maybe, but that sounds a little hokey to me. I imagine Jesus kept his eyes and his options open every step of the way. He told his disciples to be as cunning as serpents and as innocent as doves, and I’m sure they learned how from him.

I don’t know how my day is going to turn out. Or my night for that matter. Job spoke prematurely about his own days and nights, and he spoke without hope. But God turned Job around with his “were you there” litany. Job’s eyes popped open and he woke right up. No more sleeping in the middle of the day, no more hopeless nights.

If I sleep through my day and worry through my night, I hope a moment comes when God starts that with me. “Were you there?” He will thunder. “Brace yourself like a man! Where were you when I laid the foundation of the world?”

Oh, yes, I want to follow Jesus. Paul has got me right where he wants me.

(Job 7, Psalm 147, 1 Corinthians 9, Matthew 8, Mark 1)

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