More Thoughts About Joseph

I do love the story of Joseph. It’s a beautiful tale of God using one man’s misfortune to bring about the salvation of a nation. It’s God taking what was meant for evil and turning it into the ultimate good.

I noticed a few things about Joseph recently (thanks in part to a sermon series at The Church at Avenue South and the rest of the Brentwood Baptist Church campuses).

Joseph didn’t wait until God placed him in favorable circumstances to be faithful. He trusted God in the pit, in Potiphar’s house, and in prison. He was faithful where he was.

Something I heard today has been resonating with me all day– sometimes when God calls you, you won’t have time to get ready; you will have to be ready.

I think that starts in being faithful and available where you are. It’s called blooming where you’re planted.

Too many of us will miss opportunities to serve and hear God speaking because we’re too focused on looking ahead to what’s next or looking behind to what might have been.

The key to staying faithful for Joseph was the knowledge that God was with him. Over and over throughout the story, the account relates that God was with Joseph. That’s where Joseph found his strength and courage to continue.

When God does call on some of us, it will be those who have surrendered their schedules and made themselves completely and unconditionally available to God and His purposes who will be used. It will be those who have already been faithful in the small details who will find themselves entrusted with much larger plans.

I doubt very seriously that when he was a teenager Joseph ever imagined he’d be second in command over an entire nation. He probably couldn’t see any farther than his own family and their troubles.

But God saw that a people who would be come His own nation would  need saving and chose Joseph as the means of saving them. It all started with being faithful in the small stuff.

 

Thinking About Joseph

My church, The Church at Avenue South, started a new series on the character Joseph from the book of Genesis (along with all the other campuses of Brentwood Baptist Church).

It’s a very familiar story that I’ve heard literally all my life, yet there are new lessons I can learn from the story about how God redeemed one man’s misfortune to bless and save an entire nation.

Joseph didn’t start out so well. He had dreams about being in power over his father and brothers. His decision to tell his father and brothers about these particular dreams was not a wise one. He choose rather poorly.

Can anyone else relate? I know I can. There have been seasons in my life where I’ve been poor decision-prone and where I kept sticking my foot in my mouth in conversations.

The good news is that God is for all the Josephs of the world, even during those seasons of poor decision making. There’s not a mistake or even a fiasco that God can’t redeem and turn into good in the grander scheme of His unfolding story.

Like I said before, God took every negative from Joseph’s life and used it toward His purpose of saving a family and a nation through which would later come a Savior who would save people from every ethnic group and nation.

Did that excuse Joseph’s initial arrogance? No. Will it excuse mine? No. Will it defeat God’s purposes for me and for the world around me in which I live, work, and play? No.

I am never given an excuse for disobedience, but at the same time, God can take my bad decisions and weave even those into His overall redemptive plan. While my sin will still have consequences, it doesn’t have to mean the end of my story or God’s plans for me.

God is stronger than my weaknesses and my fears. I don’t have to be perfect to be useable. I just have to be available and willing.

 

 

Not-so-new Thoughts on Newtown, CT

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“No parent should ever have to bury a child.”

That’s the line from the movie The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers that King Theoden uses when he talks about the death of his only son, the one that was to be king after him.

I’ve thought a lot about that line today, especially after hearing and reading so much about the senseless killings of at least 20 children and 6 adults in Newtown, Connecticut. I have no way to comprehend the level of sadness and grief that so many people are feeling right now, and I’m not going to pretend that I understand what they’re going through.

I know that no discussion about limiting handguns or locking school doors will ever bring these children back. This is so much more than political issues; we’re talking about human lives lost. Each one had a family who loved him or her and each one is deeply missed.

I’m reminded of another massacre. This one happened after the birth of Jesus, when Herod sent soldiers to the town of Bethlehem to kill all the male children under the age of two. Matthew says (quoting Jeremiah), “A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more” (Matt. 2:18).

Again, I can’t begin to imagine what that must have been like.

Most of all, I am reminded that God himself watched as people took his only son and falsely accused him, beat him, mocked him, mutilated him, then killed him in the most excruciatingly painful manner possible. Even though Jesus’s death was ordained from the foundation of the world, it doesn’t change the fact that the Father’s heart was broken that day.

I think the Father weeps with all those who weep tonight. He sees his creation and his people broken and in disarray. He sees evil acts perpetrated by sick minds and his heart is broken.

I don’t pretend to have any answers. I don’t pretend to know why this happened or what the purpose was behind it. I do know that even in this, God works all things together for good to those who love him and are called according to his purposes.

I know that God is good and that he is in control. Still. And in that I put my hopes and I lay my head down to rest tonight.

I pray for peace right now in the hearts of all who are grieving and who cannot be comforted, for their children are no more. I pray for peace for the children who lost parents and teachers tonight, as well as the family of the mentally ill man who killed all these children before killing himself (who are probably in shock and grief as well right now). May you be present in these broken homes and lives right now. And may you set all things right one day very soon.

Come, Lord Jesus, come.