Sunday, February 2, 2014

Nothing to fear. Nothing to doubt.

I'm thinking of V for Vendetta. The image of Natalie Portman with a shaved head, clothed in a sheet-like garment, standing in the rain and lightning, standing on the balcony, with her palms held up in an outburst of rage and release and receipt and freedom. I'm looking down at the notes in front of me. There on the page are plans for my next design project. The lyrics from Radiohead's "Pyramid Song":

There was nothing to fear, nothing to doubt.

The pieces were not intended to go together, but they do. 

And they seem to go together with the Book of Job, too. 

And with me. With my story. 

There was nothing to fear, nothing to doubt. 

If you haven't seen V for Vendetta, stop reading. I'm about to give away the ending, and it's just too good to spoil when you should be watching it instead. The story of Evie and V is challenging. Evie confesses that she is not like her parents were. She is not brave. And V befriends her, then captures her, tortures her, manipulates her, and breaks her down until she faces her greatest fear: death. In the end, she walks out of her prison cell and into V's home. Deceived. Torn. Unafraid. Freed. There was nothing to fear, nothing to doubt. It's hard to know whether to hate V, or to thank him: hard for Evie and hard for us. But we like the person that Evie has become. We crave to feel as she feels. There is a rumbling in our hearts that awakens to the idea, the possibility, that we could be freed. And in the end, she makes her peace with V. She completes his work, even. She loves him. And all of this fulfills the plan. 

It might be dangerous to compare this story to Job's, but don't get too excited. Don't get too nervous or offended. This is just me learning, experimenting, and playing connect the dots to see what happens.

In Job's story, Satan is the capturer, the torturer, the manipulator, and the one who breaks Job down. And God is the one who teaches Job to face his greatest fears in order to free him, and this is why Job cries out in wisdom, "When He has tested me, I will come forth as gold" (Job 23:10). Yet, God is also the one who gives Satan permission: who points Job out, even. And how many of us have, therefore, placed the blame on God for the capturing, torturing, manipulating, and devastating of Job? I know I have. The first three chapters of Job paint a picture of God as a Father who stands back and offers up His "righteous" child as a subject for Satan's temptations and havoc (read that again and tell me why we wouldn't expect that of God, given what we know about Him in the New Testament). But I'll continue. This image of God in the book of Job is far more conflicting than that of V. Because He is God, and not a comic book character. And Job is a man, not a role that can be filled. Job is like us. 

What we determine, what we feel, in response to the Book of Job is essential to our relationship with God. It will define everything. Because in the Book of Job we are warned that "man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward" (Job 5:7). And when trouble comes, will we hate Him, or will we love Him? Will we trust Him? Will we blame Him? 

But most importantly, if V is responsible for the torture and liberation of Evie, who is responsible, between God and Satan, for the torture and liberation of Job? For the suffering and salvation of us all?

Let me pause here to tell you the truth. That I had a plan about what to write. It's sitting in front of me now, and it doesn't look anything like this. Half way through my drafting about V, I broke down. I read what I wrote, and I was genuinely panicked. Who is responsible, between God and Satan, for the torture and liberation of Job? For the suffering and salvation of us all?

I know this debate. I know these conversations. I generally want nothing to do with them, at least not publicly, and I tried as hard as I could not to get into this, but how can I read the book of Job and ignore the one thing that I believe God is trying to make clear?! That God is very, very separate from Satan. That He spares the righteous, just as He has always done: just as He did with Noah and with Lot. But Satan, he torments the righteous. He does not win, by the way. He is weak. He is pathetic. His only hope for victory exists in the chance that we might confuse the evil of Satan with the righteousness of God, as Job and his friends did, and as I so easily do. That we might not know how to feel about God and Satan because we see them as V: a single, foreign, masked, confusion of a character. Where does one end and the other begin?

As much as I have hated the tone of these arguments, and as much as I can sense lies and ugliness on both sides, and as far above them as I would like to be, tonight, I feel like God is calling out to me and asking me to be brave. He is asking me to face these questions because I need you to know, He says. I need you to know the truth about Me. 

I've protested before. I've said that I am fine either way. But I know that I can no longer say these things because I was given this picture of Eric, accused of a crime: I was sitting face to face with him and he wanted me to know that he was innocent. I refused to hear his story. I told him that I loved him no matter what, that it was fine either way. He sank deeply into his chair and his heart was crushed before my eyes. He wanted to be known, but I would not listen to him.

God is relational. He is my Father. And He wants to be known. I have no idea what this will mean months from now, but tonight I am filled with hope that He will reveal Himself to me, and reveal Himself to me, and reveal Himself to me until I have nothing to fear, and nothing to doubt. 


  1. As always, your honesty and willingness to grapple with the truth astounds me. I'm reading Job right now as well, but I haven't been willing to let it grip me as it has you. You inspire me and it's a privilege to know you, my friend. ~Betty

    1. Your words always mean so much to me :) Thanks for the comment, Betty.