Summary: People strive to find meaning in "things", feeling their current existence is insignificant. They forget that God is the God of the insignificant!
"When you’re famous enough
for fools to want your old socks"
(Or "The God of the insignificant")
Job 8:7 "Though your beginning was insignificant, yet your end will increase greatly." (NAS)
Browsing through the business section of the Sunday Times of 12/12/99, I came across an article that caught my attention. It spoke about a sale that was conducted in Los Angeles not too long ago in which the surplus household goods of Barbara Streisand were put up for auction. The article went on to discuss the obsession some people have with wanting to own a piece of the lives of the rich and famous. Of how someone will be willing to pay thousands of dollars to buy a toaster that happened to belong to a celebrity. Of being willing to buy on of John Lennon’s old socks.
Can you imagine buying one of John Lennon’s old socks? What would you want to do with the sock? Leave it lying casually around the house, hoping someone would notice the old sock gracing the back of your couch and matter-of-factly inquire, "By the way, whose sock is this?" Or maybe you’d want to frame the sock and hang it next to Eric Clapton’s guitar, or Elton John’s sunglasses or Michael Jackson’s face mask or Rod Stewart’s throat lozenges.
Can you imagine being famous enough for people to want to buy your old socks? I can assure you, no one would want to buy my new socks, never mind my old socks! I suppose it could be rather cool to have a pair of Dr Kumalo’s boots on the wall unit, or Mike Tyson’s gloves, or Tiger Woods’ number 5 iron, or Lucas Radebe’s jersey! But someone’s old socks!? Even if it is John Lennon’s!
What is it that makes people want to be identified with the rich and the famous, the bold and the beautiful, the young and the restless? What fuels the desire to want to move from Northpine to Northcliffe, Bishop Lavis to Bishop’s Court, Blue Downs to Bloubergstrand, Belhar to Bellaire, Cloetesville to Constantia, Soweto to Sandton? Why do people appear to have this incessant drive to be lifted from their seemingly mundane surroundings into the realm of perceived glamour, glitz and grandeur?
Do you want to know what I think? Well, even if you don’t want to know, I’m still going to share it with you! I believe it’s because people consider their lives to be without meaning, of no benefit to society, not making any worthwhile contribution to their community, insignificant. I believe it is this thinking that causes people to go, in the words of a song from the 60’s, "round like a circle in a spiral, like a wheel within a wheel, never ending or beginning on a ever spinning wheel, like a ball that keeps revolving, turning silently in space, like the circles that you find in the windmills of your mind."
Well, I have news for you! God is a God of the seemingly meaningless; a God of the insignificant! Witness a God working through the insignificance of little boy in a floating basket who grows up to use an insignificant rod to confound the wisdom of the greatest nation on earth at that time! Witness the power of God using the insignificant son of Jesse, with an insignificant shepherd boy’s accessory to destroy the champion of the Godless Philistine nation. Observe as God utilizes the insignificant 300 warriors of Gideon’s army against the might of the 35 000 Midianites. An insignificant jawbone of an insignificant animal -- a donkey -- in the hand of a young man born to a peasant family becomes a powerful tool of retribution when consumed by the power and Spirit of God.
The life of an Edomite, south-east of the Dead Sea, in the middle of somewhere, on the road to nowhere -- insignificant in the play and counter-play on the stage of the development of ancient kingdoms and civilizations -- becomes a powerful testimony to what can happen to someone who, putting self aside, allows himself to be directed by the Word and Spirit of God. In fact, this Edomite, Job, insignificant though he might have seemed to be, featured in a conversation between God and Satan, where God presents his name as an epitome of faithfulness.
Let us take a look at Job, the insignificant Edomite, for a few minutes:
Initially a prosperous man, Job had 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, 500 female donkeys, and a large household, consisting of seven sons and three daughters. He was also "blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil" <Job 1:1>.
Satan suggested to God that Job would remain righteous as long as it was financially profitable for him to do so. Then the Lord permitted Satan to try Job’s faith in God. Blow after blow fell upon Job: his children, his servants, and his livestock were taken from him and he was left penniless. Nevertheless, "In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong" <Job 1:22>.