This is the last of the Joseph series of teachings, and as always it's a good one. We didn't anticipate in the beginning that we would be this long in the life of Joseph, Jacob and his brothers but it's been well worth it. There has been so much to learn about life and its difficulties, sometimes extreme, and how we can get through them. Obviously, without the Lord, that's tough, if not impossible. Join us in this last chapter.
Last week we used the Etch A Sketch as an image of handing over our lives to the Lord and allowing Him to write a brand new script and to draw an entirely new picture of the rest of our lives. Nice image. It's also backed by a little known reality. I say little known, as there is a future event that is found in only one passage of scripture, as best as I can recall. In 1st Corinthians chapter 15 Paul reminds us that Jesus, after everything in the universe is finally under His subjection, is going to turn around and literally hand over everything.... every jurisdiction, all of nature, all His authority, the whole smash to His heavenly Father. This is real. This is going to happen. It's best to get a head start and surrender yourself, your stuff, and your future to Him as soon as possible..
I think most everyone remembers that toy as a child. You either had one or know someone that did. Even as an adult if I stumbled onto one somewhere, there was always the irresistible urge to shake that thing clean and draw.
Each of us actually does have an etch a sketch, and the drawing we've made is our very own life's history as we've decided to draw it. And, as things go, life usually doesn't go as planned. Lots of rough terrain that, if we could, we'd definitely do a redraw.
The good news is that we have a God Who is waiting for us to ask Him to turn that picture upside down and give us a clean slate. But the next time, we have the opportunity to let Him do the drawing, and the picture will be quite something to see. If only we can let go and let Him. Jacob and his sons help us to learn this lesson.
Let's see. How do the expressions go?
"I'm a truth teller", "I'll always let you know what I think", "I'm just being honest", and on and on it goes. Hmm... where does kindness fit into that equation?
There's an old acronym TNK before you speak.
Is it True?
Is it Necessary?
Is it Kind?
It's the "kind" part that usually gets missed, and without it we're simply extolling our opinion or venting. Usually not a good outcome following that approach. We learn more from Joseph. A lot more.
Offending each other. It's probably the most common ailment of the human condition. And reconciling with those who have offended us or whom we have offended is also probably the hardest thing that any of us has or will have to do. Once again, we learn from our continuing saga of Joseph and his brothers.
When C.S. Lewis was asked this question, his response was....
"Because they're the only ones who know how"
A Christian father this past week, somewhere in that part of the world that is persecuting Christians, just saw his son tortured, then both of them crucified, hung to suffer for two days before dying. They did not waiver. I can only hope I have that level of courage. Story after story over the centuries give testimony to the power of the Living God through the Holy Spirit because of the reality of what Jesus did for us. Of course, this does not minimize any level of loss and suffering we go through. It doesn't have to be dying by torture. Any of our losses are real. And, hopefully, we see resolution in this life.
Joseph's story is not some nicely packaged bedtime bible story. It was real. He did not have hindsight to know how or if his circumstances would ever get resolved. Sometimes it takes nearly a lifetime. But God is always faithful.
It does sound nice doesn't it? If only everybody could just be nice to each other than the world would be a great place. Well, actually that's exactly what's going to happen, but not without the first goal which absolutely has to be accomplished in each and every individual life. We need to be made right. We need first to be brought back home to Him, to deal with the sin problem in our life and bring us to restoration in life with Him. That gives us restoration with each other. Now that's a much better plan.
but 90% how you handle it. And most of the 10% are things that drive a lot of fear our way. Our reaction should result in an ever increasing sense of strength in handling those circumstances, of kindness toward those who have offended, and clear thinking that leads to peace in our lives. That's a paraphrase of power, love and a sound mind, but I think it gets the point across. Let's listen while Nancy continues in the saga of Joseph and his brothers.
If we leave this earth saying 'I did it my way, and I've got all my stuff in tact, and I have sufficiently insulated myself from people.... so I haven't had to experience pain....
That's a life wasted, not a life well spent.
Peace. That's always the end game. It's the end result of someone who can answer the hard questions, someone who has wisdom, probably the most important quality for someone to obtain and have. But wisdom sometimes requires a significant down payment. More on Joseph.
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