Sunday, 8 May 2016

How you walk down to Egypt matters

Again, apologies for the silence around here lately. We’re dealing with something so deep and unexpected it’s taken our breath away. And in the middle of this pain I’m trying to see the bigger picture of what these events mean for the future.

I believe all of us are born with the potential to give something good and beautiful to the world.

But sometimes this potential is aborted or derailed by an opposite force we call evil. The unique gifts that could have changed lives and brought healing are walled in behind pain or despair and never come to fruition.

For others, the gift is hidden for years and only revealed by ‘chance’ - cue those amazing X Factor episodes where a garage mechanic opens his mouth and sings with the voice of an angel.

Lately I’ve been thinking about a guy named Joseph. He was born with the seed of potential to do something great - a potential made clear to him in dreams and visions as a teenager. But the path to that destiny was far from smooth.

In fact Joe was so full of himself that his brothers couldn’t find a good word to say about him.

One day, when Joe was about 17, his dad sent him off into the fields to “see to the wellbeing” of his brothers - fully aware of their hatred, knowing he was provoking a confrontation and perhaps hoping for a beginning of whatever it was that Joe was called to do.

When they saw him coming, Joe’s brothers seized the chance to get rid of him, throwing him in a pit and later selling him off to slave merchants. So Joe ends up trudging through the desert in ropes behind a camel train for a month or so, but arrives in Egypt with a different enough ‘air’ about him that he’s picked as a slave for the household of Pharaoh, ruler of Egypt.

I can’t imagine Joe lying in the dust of the desert at night and cursing, or spitting at slave traders in the marketplace. I imagine him with back straight and head held high, holding on with all his might to the assurance of destiny despite the circumstances shouting otherwise.

Slowly but surely, because of this certain something (called ‘mareh’ in the original language of the story), Joe gets promoted until he’s the second-most powerful man in the kingdom. We’d be forgiven for thinking he’s made it. But no.

Before he really makes it to his destiny, God needs to make sure Joe can properly handle the responsibility he’s about to be given. So he allows Pharaoh's wife to falsely accuse him of rape and Joe is sent down to the dungeons. Spared from death perhaps, but written off all the same.

And there in the darkness Joe learns that there’s nothing about him that’s gonna make ‘it’ happen. It’s all God, all of it. The gift. The timing. His part is simply the attitude, the realisation that he is only a tool in the hands of God. So he begins to use that gift in the dungeon of the everyday, explaining dreams to his fellow prisoners, expecting no glory, just doing what he was made to do.

When the attitude comes right, God moves. Pharaoh too has dreams and no-one can interpret them until someone remembers Joe. He gets a shower, a shave and a new set of clothes, but now he remembers who he really is, and who God is. All the credit for the dream interpretation goes to God now, and because of that Joe finally gets to see his true destiny realised.

Now he’s returned to a position of greater power and responsibility than ever before. And God opens a door for him to initiate a process of forgiveness and reconciliation that turns his broken family into a bunch of tribes, and then a nation. A nation chosen to demonstrate what it means to walk in faith, humility and community.

So what I take from Joe’s story is this: what feels like a step backwards is often a step towards refining my character so I’m ready for potential to be released.

I must be humble enough to acknowledge that I don't have all the answers. Humble enough to offer my gift to the world in a way that heals and builds, and humble enough to concede that true power comes from the Giver, not the gift.

No comments:

Post a Comment