Monday, October 06, 2008

A Personal Memo & Prayer Request from Mike

A personal memo & prayer request from Mike:

At the beginning of Sept. I had an onset of excruciating pain in my neck and down my left arm. My doctor got me in the same day I called and took x-rays. I was then given prescriptions to take the edge off the pain. The x-rays showed early disc degeneration in the neck. My spine in my neck is also curved the wrong direction which is the source of the nerve pain.

For about the next week I was sleeping and laying flat on my back on the floor a majority of the day. After much discussion, consultation and prayer I am seeing a Chiropractor. Already, I am noticing a difference! The pain down my left arm is gone. I have gone from taking Vicodin every 4 hours to not having even taken Advil for a week and a half. Praise God-Yahweh Rophe (The Lord who heals)! Please continue to pray that my spine would readjust to its natural alignment and that we would continue to see improvements.

Recently I had the opportunity to share a devotional for our ministry's training in human resources on the topic of God's developmental plan. I chose to look at the life of Joseph. Following is a quick overview of that devotional.

Joseph & God's Developmental Plan - A Devotional

In Genesis 37, we see Joseph as a 17 year old. He brings a bad report to his father about his brothers (v. 2). We see that Israel (Jacob) loved Joseph more than all the other sons and gives him a robe of many colors (v. 3) Joseph has a dream (v. 5) and then shares it with his brothers and his brothers hate him (v.8). He then has a second dream (v. 9). He shares it with his brothers and his father. His brothers are jealous of him (v. 11) and sell him off into slavery.

We get a sense if we look at Joseph through the lens of his brothers that they would see him as a tattletale and an arrogant little kid at this point in the story.  It would appear that Joseph didn't really have the wisdom and discernment to understand how these things would affect his brothers.  (Now bear with me as I know this is a bit of a departure from how we typically look at Joseph and it ignores God's role in this.  I'm shooting for how this plays into God's developmental plan for Joseph.)

If we skip ahead to Genesis 39, we find that Joseph has found favor in the eyes of his boss, Potiphar (v. 4).  Despite being a slave, he is doing something right.  He was a house slave, which I take to mean that he was well trusted.  Potiphar wouldn't have just let anyone have access to his house.

We see that Potiphar's wife is beginning to take notice of Joseph (v. 7).  She makes advances day after day (v. 10).  Then one day, none of the men were around (v. 11) and Joseph goes into the house to do his work and Potiphar's wife catches Joseph by his garment (v. 12).  Joseph uses great wisdom in getting out of there.

We see that Joseph has gone from being a tattletale, little brat, to now showing great wisdom in a troublesome situation.

Then if we jump ahead to Genesis 42, we find Joseph serving in a high-ranking position for Pharaoh (governor of the land).  Also, we find ten of Joseph's brother coming to Egypt because of the famine (v. 3).  Joseph remembers the dreams he had (v. 9).  Now Joseph really begins to show some great wisdom.  He is presented with an opportunity to really stick it to the same brothers that put him in a pit and sold him off into slavery.  But instead he in a way tests his brothers.

Joseph demands that Benjamin be brought to him for the brothers to "prove" that they really are all brothers.  But, he binds Simeon and keeps him until the brothers return with Benjamin.  Joseph then gives an order fill the brother's bags with grain and to replace the money in them (v. 25).

I find it rather interesting that Joseph is in a way testing the brothers to see if God has changed them in the years since he saw them last.  Would they just leave another brother in captivity?  Would they actually care enough to return with Benjamin?

As we fast forward to Genesis 43, we see the brothers return.  Joseph sees Benjamin and orders a dinner to be prepared (v. 16).    Joseph returns home and asks his brothers if this is Benjamin (v. 30).  Joseph is moved so much so by seeing Benjamin that he weeps.

I can't help but wonder if part of Joseph's weeping was rejoicing in the change that God had done in his brothers' lives.

Joseph goes on to further test his brothers in Genesis 44, but I won't get into that.

In Genesis 45, Joseph makes himself known to his brother (v. 1).  Joseph tells them to not be distressed or angry with themselves because they had sold him into slavery for God sent him before them to preserve their lives (v. 5).  He tells them that he will provide for them (v. 11).

There is a real difference that we see in Joseph from the early days of being perceived as a tattletale to the mature man of wisdom that is saving his family from the famine.

God's developmental plan in Joseph took him along a progression of building him up.  To prepare him for the day in which he would stand before many.  Preparing him for the day when he would face his brothers and have to decide whether to embrace them in love and forgiveness or to punish them for their deeds.

God uniquely prepared Joseph by taking him through a variety of situations that built him into the man God wanted him to be.  In our lives, God has a redemptive plan for us and a developmental plan for us.  In our roles in ministry, we need to be sensitive to where God has people in His plan.  Some will be in the early stages of His plan and others will be much further along.  But the same is true of them all, God is at work.

1 comment:

Dale said...

While we can read the story in a matter of minutes, the real version took years. For so many of our Bible heroes, we picture them in hindsight, knowing their successes would eventually be complete. I hope that we each have the awareness to see that God can be working in our own life, in our neighbor's lives, and in the lives of our church leaders and missionaries over time. On days when you need encouragement because you'd like your ministry to grow faster or differently, just remember how many more chapters there are to be written!