Well, friends, sometimes writing makes me want to kick, scream, and throw a tantrum like my son when he wants to play instead of clean his room! Don’t get me wrong, my son is a WONDERFUL blessing in my life. He would simply prefer the FUN over the FUNCTIONAL. I find that I am a lot like that with God. You see, this blog series has been 18 months in the making. I didn’t mind writing about the times when God would miraculously solve my problems, or the times when God helped me to see the celebrations and growth of life. However, when I know God is correcting me or asking me to step out in action, or beyond my comfort zone, I initially start out with a cringe.
When I was growing up the movie “Forest Gump” came out, and I learned from a quotable character. Forest said, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you are going to get.” Since then, God has taken me on a journey meant to teach me how to savor each moment in life, even the times when the “chocolates” (aka life circumstances) make me want to gag! Other times each sweet bite, or moment, delicately melts in my mouth, and I don’t want it to end! Either way, I’m learning that each piece of life has divinely created purpose in it when we allow God to mold it into what HE wants it to be. While I don’t always know, or understand, God’s plans and purposes for my life, I am learning the invaluable lessons that the life of Old Testament Joseph teaches.
Last week we learned that Growing Pains Are Normal and that When Things Gets Dirty, It Cultivates Life. We learned the first ten lessons that we can all expect in our annual journey through a new year:
- Vision Precedes Victories
- Boasting Blocks Blessings
- Not Everyone Will Love You; Some Will Plot Against You
- Everyone Hits the Pit At Some Point
- Time in Trials Builds Your Character
- People and Circumstances Will Let Us Down
- Disappointments Are Inevitable, but there is PURPOSE in it all
- God Never Leaves You Nor Forsakes You (Deuteronomy 31:6)
- When You Do Your Best, Then God Will Do The Rest (Job 42:2)
- Nothing is Wasted (Isaiah 61:3)
In this crescendo of life, is there really more that Old Testament Joseph can teach us? Or, maybe, I just don’t want to learn anymore, because the first half was way harder than I had imagined?!? This is the point where it all changes! The is where the DECIDING FACTOR happens. This is the moment where we either glorify what was and turn back to the chains that enslaved us in fear and defeat, or we step forward in faith ready to conquer whatever may come! This is our TURNING POINT and our chance to breakthrough to a story that ends in unimaginable beauty! But, we say, “How do we start?“ We start by understanding the next five incredible lessons…
The Third Five = Turning Points Take You Somewhere:
Like Joseph’s life, our own experiences will take us into spaces where the darkness will be made light. ALL of our tests have the ability to become our testimonies! The problem is that the when we have bigger blessings ahead of us, then we also have bigger battles along the way. For example, even after all that Joseph had been through, and after all that had been used for good, he ended up in an unpredictable pickle. Joseph caught the eye of Potipher’s wife. You see, people will notice your growth, and some people will want to use your growth for their own gain. Although Joseph was faithful and did the “right thing” by turning down the unwanted advances, Potipher’s wife flat-out lied against Joseph because she didn’t get her own way.
What happened to Joseph? He got thrown in jail! Just. Like. That. His track record and character didn’t matter. He was thrown in jail based on a lie. Sounds unfair, right? Well, it was! It was also necessary. This is the point where the breaking point leads you to your deciding factor. This is where you either settle or you sing! As you grow into who God created you to be, and you get closer to your calling, the following things happen:
11. People Notice the Progress
12. You Need to Be Ready to Expect the Unexpected
13. When You Don’t Think It Can Get Worse, It Often Does
14. What You DO in Your Mental Prison Makes a Difference
15. Trusting God is the Key to Breaking Free
Just when Joseph had life moving in the right direction, the unimaginable happened. He was thrown in prison for something that he didn’t even do! The challenges just kept on coming! Like Joseph, when you move towards a God-given goal, you can expect unexpected obstacles to join you in the process! This is where people give up on the once-firm resolutions and give into mediocrity, or they decide to make an adjustment along the way the keeps them moving forward. If you want your best year, you will have to make the decision to TRUST GOD, even when it doesn’t make sense to, and keep going!
Even in prison, God had Joseph’s back! Just as before, God catapulted Joseph to the head of the prison. The exact place that it seemed to be the lowest point of his life, worse than the pit and worse than the slavery, it would be here that set Joseph up for the Redemption of all Redemptions! It would be here that Joseph would, yet again, use his God-given skills, in the most unlikely place, to interpret the dreams for the Pharaoh’s Baker and Cupbearer, who were also in prison.
Lo and behold, Joseph’s interpretations of the dreams happened EXACTLY as he had said! So, this is the celebration point, right? Nope! The baker gets axed, and the cupbearer goes back to his job, completely forgetting about Joseph for years! So what does Joseph do? Does he throw a hissy fit demanding his way like I often do? Nope. He Trusts God. Even now, he trusts God’s Will, God’s Way, God’s Plan, and God’s Timing. I’m not sure I would have been able to make the same choice in his shoes. I often don’t make the same decision even now in my own shoes! I do know that we all have moments where the only thing standing in the way of our God-Given Breakthrough is Faith and Patience! When we surrender our way for God’s way, our expectations for God’s provision, and our timing for God’s perfection, life starts to get really FUN! This is where FUN and FUNCTION weave together for FREEDOM, and here are the last five lessons…
The Last Five = The Power of Perseverance:
16. God Has Good Plans for Us (Jeremiah 29:11)
17. God Works ALL THINGS together for Good (Romans 8:28)
18. Faith overcomes Fear and Doubt (Hebrews 11:1)
19. Don’t GIVE UP Before the Breakthrough! (Galatians 6:9)
20. God Is Faithful (Deuteronomy 7:9)
You see, most of the lessons that I learned from Joseph were through his hardships. They taught me that in every place, there is purpose even if I can’t see it or understand it. I learned that sometimes what seem to be setbacks are actually the setups for the ultimate comebacks! I learned that God’s ways are truly higher and better! I learned that growth comes through discipline and experience, and that when we let God have our lives, they end up better than what we would have for ourselves! I learned that the temptation to give up and give in to what we see, hear, and feel is strong, but Our God IS STRONGER! I learned that Patient Perseverance and Faithful Obedience are worth the pain every single time!
Spoiler alert, Joseph gets his shot! The Pharaoh needs a dream interpreted, and the Cupbearer remembers Joseph. That pit-dwelling, Potipher-Prospering, Prisoner of Purpose was about to do what only God could do, explain the dreams to Pharaoh.
Before we know it, Joseph’s interpretation pleased the Pharaoh so much so that everything weaves together for good! Not only does Joseph get put in charge AGAIN, but he is now second only to Pharaoh. A stranger in Egypt, who was just a prisoner, now became the second most powerful person in all the region! Joseph uses the wisdom and experiences to his advantage as he saves many lives through preparation and partnership with God!
But, wait! It gets better!!! Do you remember the dream from young Joseph that got him thrown in the pit? Well, guess who comes to get food? HIS BROTHERS! In the end, Joseph tests the hearts of the brothers, the brothers follow through on the tests, and Joseph reveals himself! Although the brothers were fearful at first, Joseph explains how it all had to happen. He understood that when we bloom where we are planted, then we can Trust that God has a bigger purpose. In the end, his whole family comes to live with Joseph, and all that was in the past was replaced with a much more beautiful future!
So, as you continue to venture into 2020, remember the lessons that Joseph teaches us. Where we start the year is not where we are going to end. Some of the journey will be both difficult and likely unwanted. Remember that it is in the pain that we find our purpose and in the struggles that we get stronger! Don’t be afraid of challenges ahead of you! Smile in the face of adversity knowing that it is just a matter of time before you step into your own victories! NEVER GIVE UP! God knows what He is doing, and what He is doing is GOOD! Nothing is ever wasted! Stay gratefully present in each moment and do your best, even when it doesn’t make sense or when you really don’t feel like it. Keep taking steps WITH GOD. When you are in alignment with God, you will prosper through the problems. Finally, celebrate each day as the gift that it is, because…
“For the Lord your God is He who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies, to give you the victory.” Deuteronomy 20:4 (ESV; emphasis mine)
~Happy New Year! May YOU CONQUER new territories in 2020~