Reading Through The Bible in 2011, Part 12
What I Read Today: Genesis 37-41.
What Stood Out: Genesis 39: 21-23, “But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him kindness. He granted him favor in the sight of the prison warden. The warden put all the prisoners under Joseph’s care. He was in charge of whatever they were doing. The warden did not concern himself with anything that was in Joseph’s care because the Lord was with him and whatever he was doing the Lord was making successful.
Genesis 41: 15-16, “Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘I had a dream, and there is no one who can interpret it. But I have heard about you, that you can interpret dreams.’ Joseph replied to Pharaoh, ‘It is not within my power, but God will speak concerning the welfare of Pharaoh.'”
Random Thoughts About What I Read:
The comparisons between where Joseph and I were in life-station between the ages of 17 and 30 are staggering.
Joseph had been telling his brothers about these strange dreams he was having that seemed to indicate they would eventually be serving their youngest & favored brother. Turns out they’d devise an elaborate plot to kill him. Cooler heads prevailed so instead they only sold him into slavery. They only told their father wild beasts killed his youngest son.
I didn’t talk to my sister about much since I was late in my high school life and she was bouncing around middle school. Most of our conversations involved some type of discussion about her needing to get off the phone or how stupid Adam Ant was. I torched one of her stuffed animals once and my mom gave me a long lecture and told me stay out of her room.
Joseph became the manager of a rich man’s estate. He was faithful in his job and apparently good at it. His boss allowed him full use of the benefits of the income…which would be something like the boss letting you use his boat whenever you wanted and taking your friends horseback riding with his stable. He was obviously trustworthy.
I was in a fraternity house. After a semester of being a pledge, when you had to work to clean the house during the week and also after parties and passed the test about the history of the organization and met all the brothers, you got full use of the place. We ate all our meals there and availed ourselves to cable television in the main room to watch a young Mike Tyson terrorize the boxing world.
Joseph went to jail because he was unfairly accused of sexual assault. His boss naturally fired him…but it didn’t take long for the prison warden to spot talent and integrity. Joseph became assistant manager of the jail which allowed the warden to attend to more pressing business. Turns out the Lord was with him and had given Joseph a unique ability to interpret dreams.
I graduated college, got married, started a career in youth ministry and bought a home.
Joseph’s dream-interpretation allowed him access to the leader of the nation via a cupbearer he’d known in prison. He would eventually become the chief advisor to the Pharaoh during a crucial economic time in which a famine would threaten Egypt. Joseph’s advice would prove vital to the nation’s survival during a depression.
I’d moved my family across a few states away so I could attend seminary. I got a part-time job in youth ministry and a part-time job selling sports memorabilia in the mall to make ends meet, and I started a job that I’ve somehow lasted in for over 14 years now.
And what I got from Joseph is that, first, he had integrity no matter where he was. After surviving the slave-trade and rising to a level of responsibility in Potipher’s household, the boss’ wife tries to seduce him repeatedly. When he spurns her advances, he tells her why: He didn’t want to sin against God. He didn’t fall back on the worldly view, like, “Hey, I’ve got a good job and the benefits are pretty nice, why don’t we just forget this ever happened and we’ll both have all we need?” Nope. Told her that God was the Person he didn’t want to sin against.
It cost him everything when he’d come from nothing.
Second, he had a very firm grasp on the idea that God was guiding his steps and with him even in the darkest places. In prison, he was faithful to God and the warden took favor on him. A couple of folks he met in prison were working for the king and he interpreted their dreams. Later on, one of them mentioned to the king that there was a guy in prison who could interpret the dreams that the king’s best & brightest couldn’t. When summoned, Joseph made sure the king knew precisely where his ability to interpret dreams came from: “I can’t interpret the dream, but God will.”
And I look back at all the spots I’ve been placed…
…in a family home with my mom and sister for about 18 years.
…a college fraternity house with 2 roommates and later 80 roommates.
…in a home with a beautiful wife I love and daughters I was smitten with (and a great dog).
…in an office environment with other people who loved Jesus and wanted to tell teenagers about Jesus even if we were all broke and the organization was always struggling to raise money.
…in a seminary environment where I got to study the Word with people who loved Jesus and wanted to tell other people about Jesus from professors who loved Jesus.
…in a small church that had an amazing group of teenagers that you could count their entire youth group and still have fingers left over (when we started, anyway).
…in a mall job working with a couple of teenagers and coming into contact with a bunch of people every day.
All before I was 30.
See, in Christian circles, we seem to have this view that “ministry” is hauling off to Europe to start a coffee shop or going to reach some “unreached people group” or planting a church in the inner city of a cool city. And, granted, sometimes it is. But, frankly, most times it isn’t.
It’s walking with God with integrity and honesty…
…with the people that know you best and love you most who share your square footage.
…in front of the people you sell the widgets with, or produce the widgets for, or buy the widgets from.
…when you crack the books to get the most out of your educational opportunities.
…in front of the teachers who are trying to educate you.
…with the clerk that smacked her gum and annoyed you with her indifference, but you later found out she’s a single mom fighting all those battles.
Because God is with you in all of it.
He put you there.
And glorifying Him is the goal even if the gig doesn’t give much glory to you…
…and that’s what stands out today.
(Tomorrow’s reading: Genesis 42-46)