Posts Tagged ‘Joseph’

Somewhere between versus 17 and 18 of Genesis 42, I can imagine this taking place…

Joseph is upstairs in his plush mansion in Egypt looking out a window, trying to forget the old wounds which were violently ripped open by the appearance of his brothers three days before.  Yes! trying to forget the wounds once again gaping, all the pain brought again to the surface.  Some twenty years it had taken him to forget how they sold him into slavery, how they had ignored his cries for mercy!  Then to be wrongfully accused and imprisoned on top of that?  But these past 8 or so years had finally been a balm to his pain.  Now he had a beautiful home of  his own, a wife and children and he was second in command in all of Egypt!  Now he had the power to really make his brothers hurt like he had, to show them what it was like to be stuck someplace they did not want to be! But that wasn’t the reason he locked them up to begin with.  It was for a test, not out of anger.  Still… No.  But…

Joseph turned away from the window, his thoughts and emotions swirling and confused.  He was a man of thought and decision and action, why was this so hard?

“Do you feel better now that they are locked away in prison as you were?”

Joseph turned to find the owner of the voice, but there was no form to go with it.  Nevertheless, Joseph recognized the voice at once.  “Yes!” He nearly shouted up at the ceiling. But then he diverted his eyes downward, sighing.  “No… not really.”

“I want you to treat them well.  Very well.”

“They don’t deserve to be treated well!”

“I did not ask you to treat them well because they deserve it.”

Joseph paced the floor. “They bowed to me.  Bowed! To me!  Just like in the dream that you gave me!  And I know it is because of you that I am out of prison and second in command in all of Egypt.  And with the famine in Canaan, too, well… it only makes sense that they would come, and would come to me… that the dreams and promises you gave to father would work out through this… but that doesn’t mean I have to be nice to them in the process, does it?”

There was a sigh from the voice. But it was a tangible sort of sigh.  Joseph stopped his pacing and looked around again.  There was a figure sitting upon the window sill, silhouetted by the sunset outside and yet radiating light at the same time.  Joseph made the only appropriate move, he dropped to his knees and bowed.

“That is irrelevant,” the voice responded to Joseph’s previous rant. “Neither the past things they did to you, nor the future things that I am working out through you matter.  You should do this simply because I am asking you to…”

Joseph’s story is a multifaceted masterpiece. For every person who tries to imagine what he or she would do in that situation, there is a new way of reading between the lines of the story presented to us.  Did forgiveness come easy to Joseph, or was it a difficult wrestling that took years? Was it somehow both?  But my reading today – vs. 18-25 – brought me to this point: Whether dealing with forgiveness or something else, sometimes the reason we must do it is simply because God asks it of us.  Not because they deserve it.  Not because we’re in a “better place” now.  But simply because God asks us to…

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Meanwhile, the Midianites sold Joseph in Egypt to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard…

I like the “meanwhile.”

I mean, sure, it’s bad.  Joseph’s brothers hated, attacked and then sold him.

And sure it looks like it’s getting worse – Joseph is sold as a slave in Egypt.

But there is something in that “meanwhile” that whispers “God is at work here.”

Even though it can’t be seen yet…

… and doesn’t make sense yet…

it can still be sensed.

“Meanwhile…” God is at work!

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Come now, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him. Then we’ll see what comes of his dreams.

Genesis 37:20

So the brothers said.

But Joseph’s dreams were from God.

And God had bigger plans.

I fear dream-killers way too often…

  • other people ridiculing or squashing my dream
  • other people causing me harm or simply holding me back
  • my health not allowing my dreams to come true
  • worries and fears and failures…

And there are things that can distracts us from our dreams or prevent them from happening in the way we think they should.

And it is really our worries and fears over those things that are the biggest distraction.

But the only true Dream-Killer is not being obedient to the One who gave the dream in the first place.

In all things.

Even when it’s hard or doesn’t make sense or seems to lead us away from our dream…

… even as far as Egypt… as a slave… in a jail cell…

Because the dreams were never about us to begin with.

They are about what the Dream-Giver wants to accomplish.

So do not fear.  Do not worry.

Simply trust and obey the Dream-Giver.

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Dreams and Words

So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words.

Genesis 37:8

His dreams AND his words.

Joseph’s dreams were not his  to control. In fact, his dreams were a gift from God.

But his words he could control.

Some portray Joseph as being arrogant – being spoiled, knowing he was the favorite and eating it up. Then they say his trials in Egypt were meant to humble him.

Some portray Joseph as already humble, albeit naive – not really seeing his brothers’ hatred for him or even imagining why they would hate him.  They see his trials in Egypt more as building perseverance, obedience and trust in God.

Based on the scriptures, either scenario could work.  So we don’t know for sure.

What we can know for sure is that while his dreams were not his to control, his words were.

Oh, Lord, even should the dreams you give me cause others to look on me with disfavor, may my words never add fuel to the fire.

In fact, may ALL my words be carefully spoken.

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I see you You here, I feel Your hand.
Vast and mysterious is Your plan.
If all things start and end with You,
then I can beleive that dreams do come true.

That’s a line out of one of the songs from Sight & Sound’s production of Joseph.  I saw it last Tuesday and I haven’t been able to shake it out of my head yet.  Not that I mind, because I don’t.  I believe it was their best production ever (on so many levels) and for me even tops the Broadway version of Joseph (which I never thought would happen)!  I won’t go into detail here about the musical itself, but I would highly recommend you see it if you get the chance.

But seeing Joseph has got me thinking again.  Or perhaps “dreaming” would be a better word.  Or is it that I’m thinking about dreaming?

If you’ve followed my blogs since this spring, or even before, you’ll note that I have many dreams and I have recently wrestled with following God’s call and being on the right path.  And in many ways I still do.  Not the “where” so much as the “hows” these days.  God has given me dreams and visions and sometimes I’m not sure what to do with them all…

I’m not the first one to be given dreams and visions.  The Bible is full of people who were given dreams and visions – and hopes and promises.  And I’ve been thinking about them a great deal recently.  Specifically how most of them took years to be fulfilled.  In fact, I haven’t been able to think of any that came true instantly…  but I do know several instances in which the dreamer never did get to see the fulfillment of the dream.

Like David.  Now his wasn’t a literal dream like Joseph or Daniel had.  His was a vision.  Born out of a love for God and desire to worship Him.  He had a vision of building a temple for the worship of the God who called him, anointed him, made him king, saved him, strengthened him, forgave him and so on.  And God said that it was good that he had this desire, this vision, this dream.  But that he was not the one to see it through.  David had a vision of a temple that he would never see.  His son built it.  And David, for his part, imparted the dream and helped to make preparations.

So, as I’ve noted before, sometimes the dream or vision is given not for us to fulfill, but to make paths or preparations to that it is fulfilled in the future.

Then there’s Joseph.  Joseph was about 17 when he had dreams involving his brothers bowing down to him.  But he was probably 37 or older until that dream was fulfilled.  And for many years it probably seemed he was getting further from the fulfillment of that dream than closer to it.  His brothers sold him into slavery.  No one bows down to a slave.  Then on top of that, he was thrown into prison.  Instead of getting higher and higher into a position where people would bow to him, he was getting lower and lower.  The scripture says he was 30 when Pharaoh made him second over Egypt.  So that’s some 13 years of the dream seemingly going in the wrong direction.  Clouded, distant and with too many obstacles…. but eventually, some 20 or so years later, his brothers were indeed bowing down to him.

So sometimes the dream is a long time in coming and can seem impossible due to the way that things are currently happening.

And then there’s Nehemiah.  His also was more of a God-given vision than a literal dream.  He heard the report that though the temple had been rebuilt, Jerusalem still lay in ruins and unprotected with a broken down wall.  So with God’s guidance, favor and protection, Nehemiah was granted permission (and supplies) from the king to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the wall.  Nehemiah didn’t reveal all his plans at once and we can see from the scriptures that he prayed and planned as much as he acted.  We read his prayers, his thoughts, the opposition that he faced and about the completion of the walls and even other rebuilding aspects of Jerusalem.

So sometimes the fulfillment of the dream comes after prayer and planning and much hard work.

I have dreams and visions.  Sometimes seemingly grand dreams and visions.  It is highly likely that some will never be fulfilled in my lifetime or at my hand.  But the dream given to me will be passed along or somehow inspire others like a seed planted only to blossom later.  And I’m sure that some of my visions and dreams are going to require prayer and planning and hard work and perseverance in the face of opposition.  And I am in great need of having a little Nehemiah-character in my life!

But at the moment I feel more like Joseph.  My head swirling with these dreams that seem far off, remote and completely incompatible with my current surroundings and circumstances.  It seems every time I try to step forward with these dreams and visions, I am stopped short or cut down by health issues or other problems (as if my own tendency towards being distracted wasn’t enough)… Fatigue, headaches, dizziness, pain, stiffness and frequent illness and injury are not conducive to either teaching or performing mime!  So what’s a girl to do with the dream?

Because sometimes the dream is meant to be fulfilled in our lifetime and at our hand and sometimes the obstacles are more like Joseph’s (preventing the  dream for a time) rather than Nehemiah’s (to be fought through and overcome in a shorter period).

So I look to Joseph again.

He didn’t get to be second in Egypt by studying hard and working his way to the top one rung at a time.  He got there by being faithful and obedient to God.  Being a good steward of whatever he was given at the time.  When he was sold into slavery he worked hard and was a good steward of what he was given so that he ended up running the entire household!  When he was put into prison, his character and good stewardship allowed him to be put into a position of helping to run the prison!   The long and short of it?  It was Joseph’s character, his faithfulness to God and good stewardship of even the small things that put him in the position for God to use him and raise him up.

I need to be faithful to God.  I need to be a good steward of what God has placed in my hands – even if it’s not what I expected at this time.  And if you look closely, David and Nehemiah were actually being faithful and good stewards, too.  So whether these dreams are meant for someone else, to come true a long time from now or to be hard-won in a shorter time frame, it is my faithfulness and obedience to God and my stewardship to what I have been given which is what matters now and in the day to day.

Oh, God, give me a heart like David and character like Nehemiah and Joseph.

Or, to further quote from that song from Joseph,

Please make me wise, so that I might know
the will of my Lord from here below.
I see you You here, I feel Your hand.
Vast and mysterious is Your plan.
If all things start and end with You,
then I can beleive that dreams do come true.

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