Summary: Our sin is that we do not know who or where we are, or where we need to be. We can discover that by setting no boundaries, taking risks, and finding that in God we are already where we need to be. Luther Rice Memorial Baptist Church, Silver Spring, MD
“Watch where you plant your feet!” That’s the command I hear every time I work in the garden. “Watch where you plant your feet!” My job is to clear out dead leaves and old twigs. I open up the flowerbeds for spring. But to do that I have to step into the flowerbeds; I cannot reach all the clutter from outside. I must plant my feet inside. But from the mistress gardener at my house comes the worried cry, “Watch where you plant your feet!” She is concerned that my weight will press down on some tender shoot. She knows that I cannot tell a willow from a weed. She worries that I do not know where I am or where I need to be.
That is a parable of our lives. Much of the time we do not know where we are or where we need to be. We do not know where we are in our lives; are we at the beginning of some new venture? Or are we just beating the same old dead horse? We do not know. The very “dailyness” keeps us from knowing where we are. We are busy trying to pay bills, clean house, go to work, study, manage this task, do that chore, and when it is Sunday, get ourselves to church and pray, “God bless this mess”. We don’t know where we are in our lives.
And if we do not know where we are now, it is certain that we will not know where we need to be. It is not clear to us where we need to put our feet down and do some work, because we have forgotten what God has done in us. Our greatest sin is that we have forgotten where we are and we do not know where we need to be. So “Watch where you plant your feet!”
Job found out where he was and where he needed to be. But it was not pleasant getting there. First he had to lose everything he held dear. You know the story by now – how he lost health, wealth, family, everything but his very life. Where was he after all that loss? Physically, he was on the town garbage heap, surrounded by rotting debris and three lousy friends. Where was he after all that loss? Spiritually, he was not sure. He didn’t know. But he did learn. Job learned that where he is now is where he needed to be.
That’s the heart of today’s message: that where we are now, uncomfortable though it may be, can be where we need to be. In the providence of God, though our feet are planted in what feels like rubbish, that just may be exactly where we need to be. In our Scripture, Job says to God:
“You put my feet in the stocks, and watch all my paths; you set a bound to the soles of my feet.”
In other words, Lord, you’ve got me nailed down. You’ve planted me right here. There doesn’t seem to be anything else but this, every blooming day. Thanks to you, Lord, I’m stuck. But why is being stuck the way Job came to know that where he is is where he needed to be?
Job began by wanting to be everywhere. He started out wanting to be unlimited. Job wanted no boundaries. He saw no reason to plant himself in any one place; he wanted it all. Remember how wealthy Job was, and how righteous? Job was a great man in his time. Possessions, esteem, position, he had a great deal. But he wanted more, he wanted it all.
As this chapter opens, Job has listened to his friends; he has heard all of their theologizing about why he is suffering. And Job tells them, when they finally take a break from their windy speeches, “I don’t need you. I don’t need to hear what you have to say. I already know everything you know. But I want more. I expect more. I want to be without limits. I want no boundaries.” Here’s the way Job said it:
"Look, my eye has seen all this, my ear has heard and understood it. What you know, I also know; I am not inferior to you. But I would speak to the Almighty, and I desire to argue my case with God.”
“What you know, I also know.” I know where I am. I know all your ideas. But I want more. “I would speak to the Almighty, and I desire to argue my case with God.” Job is not satisfied to live life out the way it is. He wants to go right to the top. “Just get out of my way and let me go all the way up to God Himself.” Don’t fence me in! I want it all, no boundaries.