Reading Through The Bible in 2011, Part 14
What I Read Today: Genesis 47-50.
What Stood Out: Genesis 49: 1&2, “Jacob called for his sons and said, ‘Gather together so I can tell you what will happen to you in the future. Assemble and listen, you sons of Jacob; listen to Israel, your father.’
Random Thoughts About What I Read:
Tracy and I were in a restaurant in Sedona one time and were told we’d have to wait for a bit. This particular restaurant was close to a courtyard that invited all sorts of artists and such trying to make a buck. A Native American tribe was performing some sort of dance while they kids were working the crowd for change. Artists selling canvases. New agers selling crystals. Stuff like that.
Well, one lady offered to read my palm while we waited. Since I had 45 minutes to kill and since she worked for tips and since I had three singles in my pocket, why not? She had scarves on her head and stuff so she seemed on the up-and-up.
I’m under no illusions that she was reading all sorts of visual cues and making vague proclamations about my life and future. Stuff like, “You’re in a good station in life at the moment, but things won’t always be like this.” Well, let’s see…I’m sitting outside a mildly pricey restaurant and got out of a rental car and I’m a few pounds overweight and I’ve got free time in the middle of the day to bounce around Sedona restaurants. Not to mention that life changes here and there for everybody. So, while she got it right, suffice to say that my cynicism alert was high. This went on for five minutes. Kinda fun for three bucks.
Anyway, my little restaurant wait fortune teller was a party trick. I think we both knew it. But…
…you knew something like that was from God?
See, that’s what was going on at the end of Genesis.
Jacob is about to die and, in the custom of the times, he would give a blessing to his children.
As his father had done. I’m pretty sure the echoes of his life-changing moment at Isaac’s deathbed where he and his mother conspired to get the birthright from Esau were in his ears, too.
So, Joseph brings in his two sons as the bearer’s of the blessing. Jacob begins to bless the younger (echoes, right?) and Joseph tries to remind him the oldest should get it…but Jacob is being led by God and blesses the younger. They will both be part of God’s plan and become great nations, and they will eventually possess the land God promised to Israel. Jacob’s so sure of that reality he tells Joseph to bury him in Canaan.
Then the other brothers come in and there’s all sorts of stuff going on:
One is told he won’t do too well because of past indiscretions.
Others are told they’ll be violent and warlike.
One is told the scepter of leadership will never leave his tribe.
One is going to become a shipping magnate.
One tribe is going to serve as judges.
Another as priests.
One will be rich.
And so it goes.
But these are prophetic words which would be fulfilled over time. This was no party trick. It was serious business.
I wonder how that reality played out in their lives. I mean, identity is a powerful motivator as it is.
My mom told me that I’d failed some sort of test to get into first grade and they recommended I take a “bridge” class to prepare. Somehow, even though I was reading at some sort of level, I didn’t know my colors. My mom took up the battle and somehow got them to ignore the test results and let me in first grade with the other kids.
That moment played into my development more than you’d think. See, it changed the way my parents viewed me. I didn’t know my colors. They had to lobby to get me into first grade. Sports began to define me as I was pretty coordinated for my age and it was obvious that academics wouldn’t be my thing, right? Colors. Sheesh. How hard are those?
I was rewarded (and enjoyed, mind you) for athletics and given a lot of free passes on report cards over the years.
So, when did I hear that story about not getting into first grade?
When I took an eye test at age 17 and the optometrist told my mom I was color-blind. Some high percentage of all the types, too. My mom told me that explained that incident from a decade before about how she had to have meetings to get me enrolled. I didn’t put it all together at the time, but looking back on it, so much of my formation was on that identity I somehow got at age 6 or so: Decent athlete. Not a very strong student.
How much of that was self-fulfilled and how much of that was personal interest and how much of that was expectation and such? We’ll never know. Psychology books are full of that stuff.
But what I am thinking about today is the power of how you see yourself and your identity.
Identity is a powerful thing. If you’re a teenage kid who is into The Clash it’ll cause you to buy Doc Martens (into the Ramones? Converse Chuck Taylor’s). If you pull for a certain sports teams you’ll buy all sorts of t-shirts and caps to let everybody know. If you’re a guitar player you’ll start carrying picks around in your pocket and pull them out with your loose change. If you’re the athlete this will become it’s own subculture with their own mores. Same for artists & musicians. If you’re a bohemian you might even move to Sedona and make money off the tourists and be all happy and granola tree-hugger living in a trailer.
Or you might become war-like.
Or a shipping magnate.
Or a judge or priest.
Or develop a life-long passion to get back to the homeland with your people.
And so it goes.
But I wonder how our day would be different if we saw ourselves as the true masterpiece that God created us to be (yes, I’m sure we’ll go over this again when the reading plan takes us through Ephesians 2)?
I wonder how we’d treat the others we come across today if we saw them as the true masterpiece that God created them to be?
(Reading for tomorrow: Luke 1)
(side note: I’m off to Pine Cove today for our high school retreat. I’ll try to get ahead and post, so check back. But if not, I’ll write them there and upload when I get back)