READ: Today's passage took me to Genesis
50:15-21. For expanded reading, the
suggested texts are Genesis 37, 42, 45 & 50. This is the story of Joseph. You know, the one with the coat of many
colors. The one who was a little haughty
when he would tell his brothers his dreams.
The one whom his brothers knew was most loved because he was the first
born of Jacob's love with Rachel, whom he served 14 years to gain after being
denied by Laban, who pulled a bait-and-switch on Jacob at the altar on what
should have been the best night of Jacob's and Rachel's lives. Yeah…that Joseph.
Well, his brothers
got mad and conspired to get rid of him.
They couldn't kill him outright and live with looking at their father,
so they threw him down into a pit, sold him to some passersby on their way to
Egypt. Then, they killed an animal and
smeared the blood on his precious coat, which they had stripped from him. They went home and told Jacob that Joseph had
been attacked and killed in the wilderness.
Fast forward several
years, Joseph is serving in the house of the Potiphar. The guy's wife lusts after Joseph and
propositions him. Joseph, having
Potiphar's utmost respect and high position in the household, runs from her
presence, naked, because Potiphar's wife grabs after him, ripping his tunic
from his body. Then, she says that he
had his way with her and that is the end of Joseph's stay in Potiphar's
house. He is told, and I'm paraphrasing
here, "Do not pass go. Do not
collect $200. Proceed directly to jail." (They surely had a version of Monopoly in
So, even though he
had been sold into slavery, he managed to work his way out. And, now, he's sitting in jail. By rights, Potiphar should've (or could've)
had him killed. (I believe he knew there
was something fishy in the state of Denmark.
Wait! That's Hamlet. Sorry!)
But, he spared Joseph and just threw him into prison.
sat. I know if I were Joseph, I would be
wondering, as I sat in jail, what in the world happened. God, you gave me all these dreams when I was
growing up. I thought I knew what they
meant and where my life was going to go as a result. But…here I sit. In jail.
God, what in the world!!!!
Funny, isn't it, how
God's plan for our lives never looks the way think it ought to. But, Joseph's current circumstances (sitting
in jail) did not negate the truth of God's plan for his life. Joseph just didn't realize it. I also suspect that, maybe, Joseph needed to
be humbled. Somewhat. So that nobody BUT GOD could get the glory
for what had happened in his life. And
let's face it! I'm pretty sure that if
God had let Joseph's life go the way Joseph thought it might, Joseph - most
likely - would've taken the credit for it.
Granted, Scripture doesn't say that, outright. But, he was pretty full of himself in his
younger days. And his way was paved
pretty smoothly until he was sold into slavery.
Then, afterwards, HE worked his way up into Potiphar's house. I imagine he had started to feel like he was
bouncing back after than hand that had been dealt him. I know I would've. I would've felt like this was some sort of
vindication, even if it didn't look like I wanted it to. But, notice, Joseph hadn't been face-to-face
with the people who had "caused" his life to go so sideways. There were still some forgiveness issues that
would need to be worked through before God's work would actually be complete.
THINK: This part of today's reading challenges us to
listen specifically for the word or phrase that touches our heart. Throughout the last three years, I have been
holding tightly to Genesis 50:19:
"…you planned evil against me but God used those same plans for my
good, as you see all around you right now--life for many people."
PRAY: Here, we are challenged to think about
forgiveness - what it's like to be the forgiver and to be the forgiven. We are asked how this expression of love is
meaningful to us. We are also called to
listen for what God is inviting us to do or become this week. "Perhaps his invitation will have to do
with a new perspective on who you are in his eyes, or maybe you sense an action
he is calling you to take."
This part speaks to
me today in that, I have no question that, had I not been knocked down a peg or
two - had "my plans" not been made to go awry or take this
unsuspected detour - I would've been living my life saying what I've been
saying since I left my home for Navy boot camp.
I left my house believing that my life would be the way I wanted it to
be because of the choices I made. For
the most part, I like to think I made fairly responsible choices. And, I was choosing to be happy. I had orchestrated my life in such a way that
everything made sense, and basically turned out the way I wanted it to,
especially when I was obedient to what God was asking me.
Then April 2011
happened. We here T-boned by an
accusation so heinous that I couldn't believe God had been caught off
guard. (Yeah, I said it. And, yes, I know the absurdity of that
statement. It doesn't change the fact
that I felt that way.)
Then, March 2013
happened. The results of the accusation
were that God allowed my husband to go to jail.
ME! Don't you know that when I do what
I'm told, and I make my requests known believing you will grant them, you are
supposed to respond by giving me the desires of my heart?? And, by the way, we had plans! And what about our kids? And…and…and……….
Now, here I sit,
reading the story of Joseph. Thinking,
"Man, that boy was arrogant! I'm
not even his brother and I wanna throw him in a pit, just to shut him up!"
Man….it's a good
thing I'm not like Joseph. I never
walked around talking about how perfect my life was and how it was turning out
just like I had planned. Why wouldn't
God bless me? Look at how good I
I don't know if you
could detect the sarcasm there. If not,
trust me, it's dripping with it. While I
was not walking around actually saying those things, I was living them. And God looks at a man's heart! So…He knew!
He knew what I was saying even when there were no words coming out of my
mouth. And He also knew that what those
words scream is: I WILL BE MY OWN
I don't think that
this little side trip has derailed God's plan for our lives. I also don't think that I have to abandon all
my deepest dreams and desires because He has allowed this to happen in our
lives. What I do believe, FINALLY, is
that the only way God was ever going to get the glory for the things in my life
He has done, or permitted, is if I got knocked down off the pedestal I had
built for myself so that He could take His Rightful Place in the life of one
who calls herself a child of God.
LIVE: "Take time to meditate on the following
quite from the Book of Common Prayer (1979), and let it become your own: 'Let not the needy, O Lord, be forgotten; nor
the hope of the poor be taken away.'"
As I come closer to
the end of my education as a counselor, that prayer resonates with me. That is precisely what I hope to do as a
counselor: to not forget the needy and
to help restore hope to the poor. The
only way that I can do that effectively, though, is by directing them to the
Comforter. The Healer. To the only one who can actually transform a
life. And I cannot do it if I think that
I can be the God of my own life. That
attitude will spill over into my counseling sessions and I will sound
"holier than thou" and, thus, I will fail in our Number One law: First, do no harm." Harm is all I will be doing! Then, I will be like Paul, not doing the
things that I want, but unable to stop doing what I do not want to do.
As I head out to
class today, I challenge you to look at those areas of your life where you feel
like God has let your life go sideways.
Then, TRUST HIM! But then, ask
Him to show you if there might be an area in your life where He has been trying
desperately to get your attention, but you have been ignoring Him, or missing
His point. Then, pray for the courage to
face it, HEAD ON, FACE TURNED UP TO HIM.
Then, deal with it.