I went for a walk again across the Kennebacasis River Saturday, in front of my house. Abby, my dog, just loves it. She runs and runs and runs. She'll go way off so that she's just a black speck in the distance. She'll turn around, spot me, and come tearing back full speed, touch me, then take off again. She did this over and over. Even while Abby was way off in the distance, she was still, so to speak, in my presence and eyesight. But she needed to connect physically once in a while, probably for a sense of security. She didn't really need it, but she felt she did (if dogs feel).This reminded me of the presence of God. I am never out of his presence. I am never beyond God's love. It is my own sense of need that drives me to "connect" with God. And unlike me, God is everywhere at all times. God's presence is pervasive. I really don't have to run to God, geographically, spatially. God is present. God is presence. I think it takes courage to realize this and live by it.
I talked about Job yesterday. I didn't really get to the theme I wanted to talk about: the important role the idea of friendship plays in the book of Job. I'll get to that next Sunday. What I got a chance to talk about and what we as a community got a chance to discuss was the awesome mystery of suffering. Job never finds out what caused the suffering... the "why?". His friends, when they came to see him, were so devastated by the depth of his suffering that they remained quiet for a week. After a week, Job opens his mouth and begins his long, caustic complaint against God, with a good measure of hard questions mixed in. His friends can't contain themselves any longer and start offering explanations as to why he is suffering, trying to make sense of the hard questions. In the end, God declares Job innocent and his friends guilty! Why? I think because Job's questions and complaints arose out of his pain and reflected his personal issues with God. Job's friends answers and explanations were mere theologizing, safely removed from personal suffering. In the end, Job's friends realize that ivory-tower, theoretical theologizing provokes God, while Job realizes the real issue is trusting God no matter what is happening, and that sometimes there just aren't satisfactory answers. Like Luther said, "Confusion is the highest wisdom." We have to live with that.