Daily D – Genesis 45:5
And now don’t be grieved or angry with yourselves for selling me here, because God sent me ahead of you to preserve life. GENESIS 45:5 (CSB)
Yesterday I listened to thirty or so pastors and church starters across the country tell their stories using a six-sketch storyboard. Hearing them tell their tales sounded a lot like biblical characters. Their hopes, plans, and dreams were refined, reshaped, and renewed through one challenge after another.
After listening to one another’s stories, one participant aptly summarized the day: “No one’s story was what they thought it was halfway through.”
Stop Joseph’s story as a precocious favored son and you have a description of most young American men today.
Stop Joseph’s story when he was thrown in the cistern and you have the story of many who are trafficked as slaves. There are more people living as slaves today than at any time in history.
Stop Joseph’s story in Potiphar’s house and you have something resembling Downton Abbey if you tell it just right.
Stop Joseph’s story in the prison and you have a hopeless ellipsis (…).
Stop Joseph’s story as he waited on the cupbearer to remember him and you have the reality of many who are waiting on someone to notice them and to deliver them.
Stop Joseph’s story after he is elevated, married, and has children and you have the Egyptian Dream. The Egyptian Dream and the American Dream both fall short of God’s Dream.
Stop Joseph’s story after his brothers show up the first time, or even the second time before he revealed his identity, and you have the story of many family relationships. Conflict and estrangement rule the day.
Don’t stop Joseph’s story until the final period hundreds of years later when his body is returned to the Promised Land.
Most of us have an A to B orientation in our thinking about life. We start at point A and move toward point B in a more or less straight line. Joseph may have dreamed of a straight line as a teenager, but the fulfillment of those dreams was more like a seismograph during an earthquake.
Again, listen to the wise reflection of one pastor yesterday: “No one’s story was what they thought it was halfway through.”
Where are you in your story today? Dreaming dreams? Discarded? Sold? Captive? Misused? Imprisoned? Estranged? Wherever you may be and however you may describe it, do not stop in the middle of the story. Persevere to the end. Listen to King David in Psalm 27:10: “Even if my father and mother abandon me, the LORD cares for me.”
A little later at the end of this song he sings, “Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart be courageous. Wait for the LORD,” (verse 14).
Some things are worth waiting for. God’s plan is always worth the wait. Don’t stop believin’, the song says. Joseph would agree with that. David would agree with that. One of these days, sooner than you think but not as soon as you may like, you will say that, too.
Don’t close your book after a difficult chapter. Wait for God to redeem all he allows. Wait for God to show you what he has been working on all along.
I will persevere to the beautiful end our Father has in store for each of us who love him.
Our Father, thank you for Joseph’s story. Thank you for showing us that when it appeared everything was completely out of control and hopeless that you were in charge and that your purpose prevailed. May your purpose for us prevail. May you lead us by your grace and in your mercy through the ups, downs, and outs of our lives. Amen.
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Jeremiah 18:1-4 This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.
Philippians 1:4-6 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
Jeremiah 17:7, 8 “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”
2 Chronicles 35:25 Jeremiah composed laments for Josiah, and to this day all the male and female singers commemorate Josiah in the laments. These became a tradition in Israel and are written in the Laments. (NIV)