44. Expert On Bondage

“To sin is human;
 to persevere in sin is not human
 but altogether satanic.”
—  John Chrysostom

 

Chuck and I meandered through the adoption section of the Humane Society hoping to find the “perfect replacement” for our beloved cocker spaniel, Pepper. With Lisa away at college and Jon in New York at AMDA, we needed some commotion in our empty nest!

At the shelters that we visited, the animal enclosures varied in size and luxury. One of them fascinated me. It was a large, carpeted cage that housed around twenty kittens, furnished with climbing boxes and an amazingly clean litter pan. This kitty condo looked like an ideal interim home.

A few of the kittens slept or played together. But the majority were not satisfied with the accommodations and crowded as close as possible to where I stood, poking their paws through the one-inch wire squares as if to say, “Rescue me … please!

Suddenly a coal black kitten sprang from the group and attached all four feet to the wall of wire, directly in front of my face. At first I laughed at the cute display of desperation. Then I noticed the cat’s flattened ears and menacing expression. I felt grateful that there was a barrier between us.

While watching those felines, I realized that there are three basic categories within humankind. There are people who feel content to live within the protective boundaries of God’s love, and those who clamor for “something more” that lay beyond their reach. Then there are the many frustrated spirits who continually seek to escape their “bondage.”

I wonder if Adam and Eve experienced those emotions as they cohabited within the boundaries of their perfect garden home. Were feelings of discontent and gullibility installed by their Creator? Or were those traits instantly downloaded after Satan coerced them into accepting his version of reality?

Once again, the ancient book of Job assures us that those questions and others like them have been on the minds of men for not just centuries, but millennia! And rather than squashing the enquiring mind of the one who questions, God allows those He created to ask and ponder and even shout about subject matter that ventures beyond human understanding.

Job was a righteous man who lost everything that was precious to him – his livestock, his servants, his children, his health – simply because the God of heaven wanted to prove a point. And as Satan tried to counter punch, the only thing Job had left was his complaining wife and idiot friends.

Finally (after 37 chapters of human drama), the Lord answered the challenges that had been vomiting out of Job’s mouth. God responded with questions of His own: “Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct Him? … Would you discredit my justice? Would you condemn me to justify yourself? Do you have an arm like God’s, and can your voice thunder like His? … Then I myself will admit to you that your own right hand can save you.” (Job 40:2, 8, 9, 14)

Amazingly, Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong (Job 1:22). And in Job’s defense the Lord said to Satan, “My servant Job still holds fast to his integrity, although you incited me against him, to destroy him without cause” (Job 2:3).

With all due respect to my fellow, flawed humans: When we’re enticed to yearn for what lies beyond the boundaries that He has set for us; when we are tempted to lurch at the fences that are intended to protect us; when we’re seduced into desiring more than what the Lord has provided, may we learn valuable lessons from God’s handling of Job’s divine court case, and from the caged kittens as well. And may we strive to understand the big picture – even if we can’t comprehend it – including the spiritual realm where battles are apparently waged on our eternal behalf.

 

“‘… from the first day that you set your heart to understand,
and to humble yourself before God,
your words were heard …'”

(Daniel 10:12)

 

A RUST REMOVER …

Do you have questions for God? Maybe it would help to write them down. Then do as Job did. Lift those queries up to the One who has all the answers. Take a deep breath and “do not let your heart be troubled” (John 14:1).