I've been reading the story of Joseph this week, and I'm learning more from that guy than I ever thought possible. If we're being real, I associate the story of Joseph with the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical and that's about it. It's one of those stories I know I know, so what's the point of reading it?
I'LL TELL YOU THE POINT OF READING IT.
Andrew Lloyd Webber missed some key components of the story. Bless his heart. Joseph is not, in fact, a story about a coat. It's a story about surrender, forgiveness, grace, and growth. It is kind of, I think, a story about growing up.
In his story, Joseph grows from a self-important (kinda bratty) kid, to a fair and kind VVIP (very very important person). It's cool to read between the lines, at the "then two years passed..." parts. God was working some stuff out in those between places.
SO, A QUICK RUN-DOWN OF JOSEPH'S DEAL: Has visions of being very powerful. Tells his brothers about it. Makes his brothers mad, gets sold as a slave. Ends up in the house of a man named Potiphar. Doesn't sleep with Potiphar's wife, makes her mad. Ends up in jail. Years later, he interprets two dreams for two dudes. One dies, the other gets out of jail, and promptly forgets Joseph's request to help a bro out. Remembers two years later. Joseph ends up at Pharaoh's side being a VVIP.
I'm seeing two different attitudes here.
EXHIBIT A: Joseph was quick to use (and take credit for) his God-given gift for his pals in jail. "Hey, I can interpret your dream for you!" he said to the cup bearer. "OH ALSO don't forget to get me out of here!" When Joseph tried to look out for himself and arrange his ducks just so, it all fell apart and slipped through his fingers.
EXHIBIT B: Joseph's conversation with Pharaoh went much differently. More like, "Hey, Pharaoh, God can interpret your dream, I'll just be the vessel. Also, you might want to hire a dude to handle this. Whomever you think would be good." When Joseph chilled the heck out and let God handle the situation, he ended up as the vice president of Egypt. WHAT.
At some point during his imprisonment, Joseph learned to surrender to the process.
Which, honestly, I think was the whole point of everything.
I can imagine God saying to Joseph at some point, "Hey, dude, we've got some work to do in you. So some stuff's about to go kind of downhill. DOES NOT MEAN I hate you or I forgot you or I'm out to get you. I'm here. But you've got to understand what I'm trying to teach you, so chill out and let's learn about surrendering."
I'm sure Joseph was like WHAT THE HELL I DIDN'T EVEN DO ANYTHING WHAT IS GOING ON DUDE. True. He didn't. His brothers were just jealous, and Potiphar's wife lied to get revenge. And because of the angry actions of other people, Joseph ended up a slave and then a jailbird.
But God was right there, the whole time. Years later, when Joseph is reconciling his relationship with his brothers, he says, "Bros, you didn't do this to me. God did. And He had a purpose. Look how awesomely cool it turned out! HOORAH GROUP HUG."
Friend, our sweet Lord has created you for a purpose. He loves you and He is for you and He knows what you are capable of (even if you don't yet). And He has not, and will not, abandon you. If you're feeling at all forgotten or at a loss, or you're staring at your circumstances wondering what is the world is happening, read Joseph's story. Watch God move in the life of a punk kid who ended up being one of the most respected leaders of his time. And notice how he got there.
Surrender. Not the begrudging kind that taps its feet impatiently and checks its watch every two seconds. No. The kind of surrender that peacefully says, "This is all You, Lord. Take as much time as You need to get me in shape for the goal."
The minute you stop trying to control your circumstances, God has room to move. And He will. And as He orchestrates and organizes, fruit will appear and peace will abound and all the sudden you'll be looking back at fourteen years in prison from your giant fancy throne and be like, "WOW, Lord, didn't see that coming."
Or something like that.
So here's to surrendering to the process. Not trying to rush through the hard stuff, but taking it at it comes and giving thanks because, ultimately, you're being molded into exactly who you need to be for exactly what you've been made to do. You are not abandoned. You are loved. And, DANG, it's all gonna be so, so good.