chapter 4 of ‘The 9th City’

If you stumbled upon this post, you’ve come to join me & Lloyd Martin as we write ‘The 9th City’.

We’re on chapter 4 already …

We would like you to be our accomplice in this. Subscribe to ‘sevencitys’, by clicking on ‘sign me up!’ & over the next few months leave comments on each new chapter. If we use your input, we will credit you as conspirator when ‘The 9th City’ is published.

So let’s get started on chapter 4.

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F is for Faith: something God has more than he expects, I think.

Job was going about his business when everything suddenly changed.

There were no warning signs.

No global trend.

He got up.

He made his sacrifices.

Concerned for his children.

Perhaps hoping that God would respond to these offerings with grace & kindness.

He went to work.

And everything crumbled.

Little did he know that morning when he got up & faced the day that this would be the last time he would be readying sacrifices for his seven sons and three daughters.

Little did he know his world, his understanding, his life would be shaken to its core.

It was.

Suddenly.

According to the story which has been preserved through countless generations and in varying religions, this man was stripped in a single day of everything he held dear.

And then some.

And then he had to listen to his friends go on and on and on and on about how he brought this on himself.

That must have been the worst of it all.

It would’ve been for me.

It was.

They couldn’t say exactly what he did to bring it on himself.

They speculated about some disobedience.

Some sin.

In the story we read, the bulk of what is now chapter upon chapter is dedicated to their long-winded verbal diarrhea, making him the master of his destiny & the root of his own destruction.

Are we really that in control?

Do we truly have that much say over our own destiny?

Job’s friends encourage him to repent, so that he may be restored.

The first Wesleyans on earth.

Follow the method.

‘Yes, brother Job, just repent & God will restore you. It is simple. So simple you are struggling to believe it. Simple action & reaction. Fill your heart with humility. Crawl before the fearsome God. Grovel before him & everything will be fine. Perhaps you didn’t mean to sin, but you were awfully wealthy & it is easy to become boastful & self-sufficient & arrogant in wealth. Humble yourself. Say it. Admit it & everything will be well.’

I see old-school KGB-agents in long bleak coats with bright lights and strategically applied crocodile clamps.

I see Nazi interrogators.

I see apartheid-era secret police.

‘Just say it & we’ll give you a sip of water.’

‘Just say it & your family will be untouched.’

Fascists.

Forcing.

I see methodical coercion.

And at the end of this epic story I hear a different God.

One they did not know.

One not often allowed to speak in our day and age.

I hear this God saying: ‘nonsense! you have no idea who i am.’

In a literary sense this story isn’t much of a suspense thriller. Maybe the expectation or anticipation that something might change again do carry an element of suspense, but the three friends’ mindless talking and talking kills it for me.

Change.

Hang on to that word.

It is a powerful one.

One I’ve had the privilege of engaging through adversity.

For Job however, the adversity isn’t about change.

I think there is change.

If I read the last few chapters of the story I do sense some elements of change.

How can you go through something like this and not be changed?

But this story is about faith, more than it is about change.

It is about community too, I think.

But mostly about faith.

Faith & the desire to be loved unconditionally.

That’s what it tells me.

That’s what I hear.

A story about God’s faith.

God’s faith in Job.

And God’s desire to be loved unconditionally.

It is right there in the start of the story. God boasts with Job. He is boasting about the connection between himself and Job. He is boasting that there may not be many, but there is Job. And Job loves him.

Unconditionally.

And he is willing to risk his own reputation on this man.

He has faith in Job.

I’m sure, if you’ve been in a religious environment, that you’ve been told to ‘believe’ or to ‘have faith’ on numerous occasions.

‘You’ve got to believe’.

Believe in Jesus.

Believe in the power of the cross.

Believe in Christ’s redemption.

Believe in the blood of the Lamb.

My goodness! Almost as if your faith becomes a prerequisite.

That’s why you didn’t receive healing!

Why your business didn’t turn around!

Why your marriage couldn’t be saved.

That is why the Genie didn’t grant you your wish.

Because you did not have faith.

This story is not the story of Job’s faith.

And if I look at the few winters I’ve seen – it is most definitely not the story of Theunis Pienaar’s faith.

This is the story of God’s faith.

His faith in Job.

His faith in me.

In you.

The conviction, the trust, that Job loves him.

Not because of what he has done.

Or what he could potentially do.

Just because.

I love Mob-movies.

In every one of them you have the muscle moving in on the business. Taking protection-money and then the dry cleaners won’t be thrashed anymore.

Do you think Job thought of those sacrifices for his children as ‘protection money’?

According to the story, God did not think so.

And according to some other stories he is quite knowledgeable about what goes on in people’s hearts.

But we are encouraged to think in those terms.

Never the less.

By religion.

Sow & you will reap.

Tithe & you will know a ten-fold return.

I have reaped where I have not sown.

I have received grace where I did not even know I needed it.

‘F’ is for ‘Faith’.

Something God has.

In Job, at least.

And I hope in me.

If I look at the adversity I have eaten, then he must have faith in me too.

Surely.

The faith that I love him.

Unconditionally.

This is immense.

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Now don’t forget to take part in this process. Tell us what you’re missing from this chapter. Or what expectations it creates.

And if you’ve not yet taken a look at what is on the bookshelf in Amazon’s Kindle-store, please take a look here: Theunis Pienaar’s Books in Amazon’s Kindle-Store

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