The Voice of Job

O that thou wouldst hide me in the grave, that thou wouldst keep me secret, until thy wrath be past, that thou wouldst appoint me a set time, and remember me! If a man die, shall he live again? All the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come. Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee: thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands.

— Job 14: 13-15

Are we not the clay, and he the potter? How can the clay claim from the potter? We are the clay, it is true, but his clay, spiritual clay, with needs and desires—and rights; clay worth the Son of God’s dying for, that it might learn to consent to be shaped unto honor. We can have no merits—a merit is a thing impossible; but God has given us rights. Out of him we have nothing; but, created by him, come forth from him, we have even rights towards him—ah, never against him! His whole desire and labor is to make us capable of claiming, and induce us to claim of him the things whose rights he bestowed in creating us. Being made, we have claims on him who made us: our needs are our claims. A man who will not provide for the hunger of his child is condemned by the whole world. It is God to whom every hunger, every aspiration, every longing of our nature is to be referred; he made all our needs, made us the creatures of a thousand necessities. When doubt and dread invade, and the voice of love in the soul is dumb, what can please the father of men better than to hear his child cry to him from whom he came, “Here I am, O God! Thou hast made me; give me that which thou hast made me needing.” What would he have, but that his children should claim their father? God is the origin of both need and supply, the father or our necessities, the abundant giver of the good things. Right gloriously he meets the claims of his child! The story of Jesus is the heart of his answer, not primarily to the prayers, but to the divine necessities of the children he has sent out into his universe.


by James House

The story of Jesus is the heart of his answer ... to the divine necessities of the children he has sent out into his universe.

Yes - we have divine needs, because we are made of the divine, and called forth to blossom into the fully divine.

We have all been born with divine desires:  to love, to create, to improve, to be useful to our brothers and sisters.  Yet we all ache from our inability to live up to these divine desires.  This ache, this restlessness, this drive toward calling out our declarations of need to our Father - all point toward our divine need:  to be like our Father.

In this need we have rights toward our Father, and in this he has, and is ever-ready to provide the answer to our needs.  He as sent the Living Water, the Bread of Life, and the Comforter.  Every key and tool, every tender mercy and empowering grace that is needful for the eventual filling and quenching of our divine hungers and thirsts is given as we are ready to receive them.

Our greatest divine need is to know our Father - without this knowledge we cannot be like him.   We must therefore do his will - as explained and exemplified by Jesus. Then we can understand - and then we can know the heart and mind of our Father.  Doing the will of the Father:  easier said than done!   Prayer can bring us focus, guidance and comfort.  Honest, open prayer can also bring uncomfortable yet useful critique and correction - are we brave enough and humble enough to accept it?

"the highest and loveliest, the most entrancing privilege of existence, that of pouring forth my whole heart into the heart of him who is ACCOUNTABLE FOR me, who hath glorified me with his own image"  (from Thomas Wingfold, Curate)

"She had come nearly to the point of discovering that the soul is not capable of generating its own requirements, that it needs to be supplied from a well whose springs lie deeper than its own soil, in the infinite All, namely, upon which that soil rests. Happy they who have found that those springs have an outlet in their hearts—on the hill of prayer."  (from Thomas Wingfold, Curate)

"Gien ye mean by that, sir," cried Donal, forgetting his English, "onything to come 'atween my God an' me, I'll ha'e nane o' 't.  I'll hae naething hide me frae him wha made me!  I wadna hide a thoucht frae him.  The waur it is, the mair need he see't."   (from Donal Grant)

God eagerly awaits our yearning for him to grow and to win-out over our other desires.  Perhaps we can find a way each day to push our other desires a little more to the side, and to be obedient in another small way or two.   Perhaps we can do even more than that - do we not have seeds of divinity within us?  Ah - we need more confidence in God's ability to help us rapidly grow, and less confidence in our own ability to gradually progress.   We need to claim our rights toward HIm!

Among the greatest gifts God has given us is our freedom to choose and act independently - our ability to choose the divine.  His other gifts bring strength and growth that enable that choice to find reality.

"O God, let my mother see that thou art indeed true-hearted; that thou dost not give us life by parings and subterfuges, but abundantly; that thou dost not make men in order to assert thy dominion over them, but that they may partake of thy life. O God, have pity when I cannot understand, and teach me as thou wouldst the little one whom, if thou wert an earthly father amongst us as thy son was an earthly son, thou wouldst carry about in thy arms. When pride rises in me, and I feel as if I ought to be free and walk without thy hand; when it looks as if a man should be great in himself, nor need help from God; then think thou of me, and I shall know that I cannot live or think without the self-willing life; that thou art because thou art, I am because thou art; that I am deeper in thee than my life, thou more to my being than that being to itself. Was not that Satan's temptation, Father? Did he not take self for the root of self in him, when God only is the root of all self? And he has not repented yet! Is it his thought coming up in me, flung from the hollow darkness of his soul into mine? Thou knowest, when it comes I am wretched. I love it not. I would have thee lord and love over all. But I cannot understand: how comes it to look sometimes as if independence must be the greater? A lie cannot be greater than the truth! I do not understand, but thou dost. I cannot see my foundations; I cannot dig up the roots of my being: that would be to understand creation! Will the Adversary ever come to see that thou only art grand and beautiful? How came he to think to be greater by setting up for himself? How was it that it looked so to him? How is it that, not being true, it should ever look so? There must be an independence that thou lovest, of which this temptation is the shadow! That must be how 'Satan fell!—for the sake of not being a slave!—that he might be a free being! Ah, Lord, I see how it all comes! It is because we are not near enough to thee to partake of thy liberty that we want a liberty of our own different from thine! We do not see that we are one with thee, that thy glory is our glory, that we can have none but in thee! that we are of thy family, thy home, thy heart, and what is great for thee is great for us! that man's meanness is to want to be great out of his Father! Without thy eternity in us we are so small that we think ourselves great, and are thus miserably abject and contemptible. Thou only art true! thou only art noble! thou wantest no glory for selfishness! thou doest, thou art, what thou requirest of thy children! I know it, for I see it in Jesus, who casts the contempt of obedience upon the baseness of pride, who cares only for thee and for us, never thinking of himself save as a gift to give us! O lovely, perfect Christ! with my very life I worship thee! Oh, pray, Christ! make me and my brother strong to be the very thing thou wouldst have us, as thy brothers, the children of thy Father. Thou art our perfect brother—perfect in love, in courage, in tenderness! Amen, Lord! Good-night! I am thine." (from What's Mine's Mine)

Let us put aside our false joys, our crutch-joys, our pain-numbing distractions, and choose the true liberty that is offered to us.  Let us choose to please our Father by finding our joy in truly knowing him and drawing near to him.  

"But," said Drew, "is not God pleased that a man should pour out his soul to him?"

"Yes, doubtless; but what would you think of a child who said, 'I am very useful to my father, for when I ask him for anything, or tell him I love him, it gives him—oh, such pleasure!'?"

"I should say he was an unendurable prig. Better he had to be whipped for stealing!" said the curate.

"There would be more hope of his future," returned Polwarth. "—Is the child," he continued, "who sits by his father's knee and looks up into his father's face, SERVING that father, because the heart of the father delights to look down upon his child? And shall the moment of my deepest repose and bliss, the moment when I serve myself with the very life of the universe, be called a serving of my God? It is communion with God; he holds it with me, else never could I hold it with him. I am as the foam-froth upon his infinite ocean, but of the water of the ocean is the bubble on its waves."

"When my child would serve me," he went on, "he spies out some need I have, springs from his seat at my knee, finds that which will meet my necessity, and is my eager, happy servant, of consequence in his own eyes inasmuch as he has done something for his father. His seat by my knee is love, delight, well-being, peace—not service, however pleasing in my eyes.—'Why do you seat yourself at my knee, my son?' 'To please you, father.' 'Nay then, my son! go from me, and come again when it shall be to please thyself.'—'Why do you cling to my chair, my daughter? 'Because I want to be near you, father. It makes me so happy!' 'Come nearer still—come to my bosom, my child, and be yet happier.'"  (from Thomas Wingfold, Curate)

Our choices show God how serious we are about wanting to know him.  When we choose to be obedient to his will his grace flows to us and swells the divine roots within us.   Let us choose to let his words take deep root and blossom in the garden soil of our hearts!  Let us accept his counsel and correction and choose obedience to his word that we may know Him!