A PORTRAIT OF WILDNESS
Gracious Lord, you are the God I worship, you are the Lord of my life. I praise your name.
Read JOB 39
“Do you know when the mountain goats give birth?
Do you watch when the doe bears her fawn?
2 Do you count the months till they bear?
Do you know the time they give birth?
3 They crouch down and bring forth their young;
their labor pains are ended.
4 Their young thrive and grow strong in the wilds;
they leave and do not return.
5 “Who let the wild donkey go free?
Who untied its ropes?
6 I gave it the wasteland as its home,
the salt flats as its habitat.
7 It laughs at the commotion in the town;
it does not hear a driver’s shout.
8 It ranges the hills for its pasture
and searches for any green thing.
9 “Will the wild ox consent to serve you?
Will it stay by your manger at night?
10 Can you hold it to the furrow with a harness?
Will it till the valleys behind you?
11 Will you rely on it for its great strength?
Will you leave your heavy work to it?
12 Can you trust it to haul in your grain
and bring it to your threshing floor?
13 “The wings of the ostrich flap joyfully,
though they cannot compare
with the wings and feathers of the stork.
14 She lays her eggs on the ground
and lets them warm in the sand,
15 unmindful that a foot may crush them,
that some wild animal may trample them.
16 She treats her young harshly, as if they were not hers;
she cares not that her labor was in vain,
17 for God did not endow her with wisdom
or give her a share of good sense.
18 Yet when she spreads her feathers to run,
she laughs at horse and rider.
19 “Do you give the horse its strength
or clothe its neck with a flowing mane?
20 Do you make it leap like a locust,
striking terror with its proud snorting?
21 It paws fiercely, rejoicing in its strength,
and charges into the fray.
22 It laughs at fear, afraid of nothing;
it does not shy away from the sword.
23 The quiver rattles against its side,
along with the flashing spear and lance.
24 In frenzied excitement it eats up the ground;
it cannot stand still when the trumpet sounds.
25 At the blast of the trumpet it snorts, ‘Aha!’
It catches the scent of battle from afar,
the shout of commanders and the battle cry.
26 “Does the hawk take flight by your wisdom
and spread its wings toward the south?
27 Does the eagle soar at your command
and build its nest on high?
28 It dwells on a cliff and stays there at night;
a rocky crag is its stronghold.
29 From there it looks for food;
its eyes detect it from afar.
30 Its young ones feast on blood,
and where the slain are, there it is.”
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.’1
I come from a people characterized by stubbornness. We are called ‘Guernsey donkeys’ and it is a fitting caricature of this island race. God’s parade of wild animals and birds in front of Job is designed to show him the extent of the wildness in God’s creation and the inability of humanity to truly tame it all. The wild donkey ‘laughs at the commotion in the town; it does not hear a driver’s shout’ (v 7). As this carnival of wild creatures passes Job, he is supposed to notice that only God can manage these unruly beasts and bring them to heel, significantly even at a manger (v 9). God is saying that not only is his world wild, but it is also wilder than you think and that only he, the Lord of creation, can truly grasp it all.
It is significant that when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, he sent his disciples ahead to select a young donkey that no-one had ever ridden.2 He mounted it as a token of his mastery over wildness. Job needed to learn that there is a wild rebellion in the human heart that does not submit easily to the Lord. Even humanity’s delegated authority over creation does not really mean that it has mastered itself, let alone the whole of the animal kingdom. James recognizes this: ‘All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by human beings, but no-one can tame the tongue.’3 The message is that God is still in charge in his world, despite the appalling losses Job has suffered. The very wildness of the circumstances that face the believer can blind us to this fact. Job’s eyes were being opened – and so are ours.
If God knows the lives of these wild creatures so intimately, how much more does he know you. Read Matthew 6:26 and praise him for his love and care.
Great and Mighty God, I continue to stand in awe of who you are and what you have done. I bow in devotion before you.
1 Ps 59:16 2 Mark 11:2 3 James 3:7,8, TNIV
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