"Job, now I think we are getting somewhere. It has taken me 54 conversations with you, but I think we are now at the point of joining the big issue of your book, the big issue of life. I called it, variously, yielding to God, giving oneself to life, falling into the arms of Spirit (Paula D'Arcy's phrase), etc. What you were finally able to do, it seems to me, when you went back to the dust heap in 42:6, was to yield yourself to God, to give up your sense of entitlement, of rightness, of having to control the terms of the debate, of having things work out just as you knew they should.
Let me focus on one of those phrases--"to control the terms of the debate." I think one of the debilities (and glories) of a "big guy," even the "greatest man in the East," is that big guys want to control the terms of the conversation. They want X to be done. They want Y to do it. They want it to be done by Z date. They don't want lawyers telling them what to do; perhaps they will tolerate a lawyer telling them what they must not do, but no more. Most big guys are full of themselves, their ideas and plans, their way of conceptualizing the world, their beliefs and commitments. They have people carrying out, rather than questioning, their will. Thus, I think it is especially hard for a big guy to yield, to give up, to relinquish his hold on what gives him security and put himself completely in the arms of another. Maybe this comes more naturally to other people (perhaps women?), and for those people the Book of Job, your book, may not resonate as strongly, Job. Thus, I wonder, parenthetically, whether your book will only really be appreciated by other "big guys" or by people who aspire to or find most natural this kind of thinking or living.
Well, I don't know, but I do know that you found it in yourself to give yourself up to God, so to speak, to lose your life in God, and, in Christian terms, you ended up finding yourself. How did you do this, Job? What was the mental or psychological process you went through between 42:5 and 42:8 that enabled you to give yourself completely to God? Did you go to a shrink? Maybe there was an Edomite psychologist, possibly Bildad's younger brother, who was even shorter than Bildad the "Shuhite," to whom you repaired. But I don't think so. I think you didn't need or want or wouldn't have tolerated someone else trying to "draw you out" or "practice empathetic listening" with you, would you Job? Nope. You were going to get to the bottom of this thing yourself. And, you did. I think it was the combination of having the wind taken out of your sails and hearing God's words in 42:7 that made you able to give yourself up completely to life. Let's try to systematize, or identify, the realizations you came to in those verses that enabled you to lose your life in God and, thereby, to find it.
First, I think you had a sense of your utter vulnerabililty as a person. You finally understood your humanness, your limitation, your ignorance, your impotence, your emptiness. You realized, in the words of Scripture, that in your flesh dwelled no good thing. You knew that all your righteousness was as filthy rags, that if you added up all the contributions you made in life and all the satisfactions you drew from life, it would have been negligible. You realized that you had lived with an image of yourself, a picture that you had finely drawn of yourself, and that you, like Narcissus in the ancient Greek myth, had fallen in love with that picture of yourself. But, it dawned on you that it was only a picture, that it was only an image, that the thing you loved most was Job with his accomplishments, Job with his fidelity, Job with his possessions, Job with his clout, Job with his family, Job with his religiousness. Then, you came to realize the futility of loving all these things. these things were not God, and these things were not really Job. They were just things--mental constructs that you used to buttress the empty chamber of your life, scaffolds that you thought would hold up the cathedral of your life but really, in a sense, could only be of use to try to work on the cathedral.
But now you realize that you have lived your whole life in an illusion. You don't really get it. You haven't grasped the basic and most fundamental lessons of life. You have learned to master people but not yourself; to get the goods of life but not to get the good life; to know about God but not to know God; to see your filtered view of reality but not to look right on the glorious power of the Holy One of Israel. You are shamed and humilitated and undone. You finally realize the truth of your earliest words in ch.1---"Naked I came from the womb, and naked I shall return." You now knew, in a moment of time, that you knew nothing. Taking off on the words of Socrates, you had examined your life, and found it not to be worth living, but to be worthless.
This, then, was the first step in being able to yield yourself to God. You realized your vulnerability, weakness and impotence before God and life. You realized that you had been living under the myth of control. And because you had invested yourself so strongly in that myth, it came crashing down very very hard. God's seemingly harsh words to you in 38-41, thus, mirror the harshness of your fall. You didn't want to be let down "easy," Job, did you? You wanted to face it full force. And you did. And you were undone. That is the first point.