I’ve had great moments where I trusted entirely. But, probably like you, that trust didn’t stay Front and Centre very long.
I, once again, rose in my humanness and took over the thought process. I once again began to fixate on things I couldn’t change, bringing tomorrow into today’s capacity and finding it overwhelming. Ya, once again.
Today is a small victory; today I decided that I would live like my prayers have been heard. I’ve decided that my faith and my action would be harmonious.
I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness, the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed.
I remember it all—oh, how well I remember— the feeling of hitting the bottom.
But there’s one other thing I remember, and remembering, I keep a grip on hope:
God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, his merciful love couldn’t have dried up. They’re created new every morning. How great your faithfulness!
I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over). He’s all I’ve got left.
God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits, to the woman who diligently seeks.
It’s a good thing to quietly hope, quietly hope for help from God.
It’s a good thing when you’re young to stick it out through the hard times.
The other morning I was listening to one of my favourite artists sing. She dug deep and punched out her lead line with a bit of a growl. I loved it the first time I heard it, and I loved it again this particular morning.
My mind instantly veered down a path of passion, and within moments I was thinking of the great company of witnesses in heaven. (Hebrews 12:1)
My thoughts went to Gideon, David, Elijah, and Ruth and Naomi all who lived fully human, just like us. Then my thoughts continued to the more recent; how about Martin Luther King, Billy Graham, and Mother Teresa? Then there are a couple of my favourite people who lived and sung with passion, Andre Crouch, and Dannibelle Hall. These people from ancient and recent past all stood with an, “I’ve got something I have to do!” attitude.
“Phil, you are going to be greeted and surrounded by a myriad of people that could literally be defined by their passion,” my thoughts injected. “Are these your people? Is this what you are known for? Are you living with passion? Is your passion for the right things?” (At times my inside conversation bothers me.)
Let me ask you. Right now I am asking where things are at. In the last twenty-four hours, has your passion shown through? Or, are you waiting for the weekend?
It’s Monday morning and who wants to go to work? Really, who wants to leave their weekend behind and embrace the repetitive mundane?
Well, that is indeed one way to look at it.
Or, we can adjust our thinking. Why would we want to do that?
Monday is going to happen whether you are on board or not; whether or not you jump in with your game face, or drag in, hauling your coffee with your IV hookup.
The fact is you can choose; what a great gift. You can choose to live with a good, great, or excellent attitude, or you can choose not to. Too much for a Monday morning? That’s why I waited until now to send this.
Choice is a gift from God. I think he holds it as one of his highest values. He must; it is what makes us human.
Don’t give your choice away to someone or something that will marshal it for another cause. You’ve been given the gift, so use it.
Choose to live well, to hope strong, to have faith that God has ‘got this’ and knows where you are at, and what needs to happen next.
Don’t settle for being pushed around by a Monday or anything else that wants to usurp your gift.
You get to choose. So, choose by choice, not by default or any other imposed criteria.
We get to make a choice, so, Happy Monday! You are alive and ‘Get to.’
We can assume that it is our job to address someone else’s.
Most of the time that is not the case.
I recently shared this picture on Facebook, and I love it. It captures the sass and the fun that my wife and I frequently have with each other. One of the comments by someone who knows us reasonably well was that it captures our personalities.
What it doesn’t show is the regular, the mundane, the hurt, and the pain that life can hold and sometimes deal out. It doesn’t show the low moments, the struggle moments, or the confusing moments that accompany every relationship and every life. It doesn’t show the hours of conversation or the short nights that it sometimes takes to work through the mess.
We can naively carry on thinking that others have a perfect life and “If I could only have it like them then things would be great.”
Everyone has snapshots that if captured and presented would represent a moment of bliss or euphoria. I am not so concerned about those moments. Instead, I want to address in this series the other 99.99%.
I can think that life is pretty good. I can take care of ‘my side’ and believe that everything is okay. My problem is that I often start with me and work out from there. However, that may not always be the best measurement, and much of the time it can be skewed.
Even though I can look good in a moment to you, or I can look good in my thinking to myself, I also have the potential to affect others, and that will not always have me in a great light. I struggle like you with being human, with getting it right.
I can even go to the scriptural extent that I’m busy trying to take out a sliver from your eye while I am oblivious to the log in my own.
I need to Address The Mess in my own life. That is where I start. Once I come to terms with how short I have fallen, how much I need, how far I have missed the mark of perfection, then maybe, just maybe I can begin to help someone else.
God provides tons of help and encouragement, but it is only available when I can be honest with myself and real with him.
So many times I get caught in maintenance mode. I wake up to realize that I have been just plugging the system of …whatever.
The other morning a blog by Seth Godin caught me completely by surprise. He talked about people are trying to predict the future, trying to be in the right place at the right time. He then went on to say, “A far more successful and reliable approach is to invent the future. Not all of it, just a little part. But enough to make a difference.” (May 27, 2017, “Seth Godin’s Blog on marketing, tribes and respect.”)
That caused me to do a double take.
Precisely that is what happens every time someone believes in himself or herself, God, a promise, or future, and then they step out and invent that part of their future.
Joseph did that. I’m reasonably convinced that he didn’t sit there in prison and say that he was inventing his future, he just hoped in, believed in, and acted when he had the opportunity. Joseph believed that God was for him.
The moment arrived at lightning speed, and yet the storm took so long to get there.
Joseph waited and dreamed of a day that he wouldn’t be in slavery, he dreamed of having position or prominence, or was that just a faint, old, childish fantasy?
He did all the hard work of introspection and retrospection. He busted his chops to maintain and gain a good attitude. The Bible calls that success.
In a moment, in a whirlwind of, “Pharaoh wants to see you now.” Joseph was standing before the great! In a moment he was in a situation that could cost him his life or promote him to his destiny. He had seen it before. The stakes were incredibly high, the passion was immeasurable, and the ‘skin in the game’ was all Joseph’s.
Years ago I asked an RCMP officer how he liked his job. He said that it was 98% boredom and 2% sheer terror.
This moment for Joseph was framed exactly like that.
It’s improbable that Joseph was thinking that morning, “Next week this time I will be second in command for all of Egypt.” Now here he stood in a breath-held moment totally unsure of what his next step would be.
I find it hard to believe that this played out exactly the way that he dreamed. My experience is life just doesn’t work that way but here very naturally and in sequence Joseph experienced the ‘super’ natural. I believe that his heart held to something more, something that he knew had ‘greater’ attached, but like the rest of us, the clarity was yet to manifest. A supernatural God who, loved and cared passionately for Joseph orchestrated his life, and so he is yours.
Don’t get confused by the supernatural part. My confusion ended when I began to see God as super natural. He’s more natural than I am and more than likely he is going to work through very natural circumstances to see my life where he wants it to be.
And Hey. Since He doesn’t respect one person more than another, He’s doing it for you.
“Get changed! Get shaved. The king wants to see you now!”
You waited and waited, and then you waited some more, now things are moving so fast you hardly know you are involved.
This was Joseph’s breakthrough moment, well; this was the moment when all things changed.
Joseph’s breakthrough moment happened earlier. I wasn’t there, neither were you. Joseph in the privacy of his privacy had his wrestle with God and with no one else. He wrestled with the same God that changed his dad and the way he walked. How do we know? Joseph held his values. They came out his mouth every time there was an opportunity. It used to be he had a dream and was going to be… Now, God is the interpreter of dreams.
There still was a common thread, dreams. Joseph never gave up on his dream. I’m sure that the dream became very refined, but Joseph knew that God had given it, and he knew that God would now interpret it. He just didn’t know when.
Finally, we get to see the breakthrough.
The king’s dream must have been very compelling and convincing. He moved the entire responsibility of the Egyptian economy into Joseph’s care before a single crisis ensued.
We now read the story within a fifteen to twenty minute sitting and if we are not careful will miss the magnitude of what God did in, to, and for Joseph. We will miss what God did in, to, and for Pharaoh. We will miss what God did in, to, and for Jacob. Oh yes and remember those boys? We might miss what God did in, to, and for them.
Somewhere around year eleven Joseph finally got his break, or so he thought.
He, once again, was successful in the prison that confined him. On this particular day, two more guests (his perspective) came into the jail. From their perspective, it would have been the roughest day of each of their lives. The king was ticked at them, and they were thrown away, just like Joseph.
After they had been there a while each of them separately dreamed, but both on the same night. They didn’t know, but they were in the presence of a dreamer just like themselves. Joseph saw them in disarray and offered help. “Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell me your dreams.” (Genesis 40:8, NIV)
Joseph had learned something. He was no longer the interpreter of his dream or the dreams of others.
It’s hard not to attach your own spin on things. Most of the time I find that I try to interpret my life, but Joseph realized that after eleven years he was not the interpreter of dreams. He could have them, as can I, as can you, but God was and is the interpreter.
It went well for the first guest the cupbearer, and it went terribly wrong for the second, the baker. After three days the interpretations came true, the Baker died, the Cupbearer was restored, and Joseph was once again forgotten.
Interpretations do belong to God, but so does timing and we don’t like that. We feel forgotten, lost, alone and frustrated. If we could fast forward the calendar five years and we could ask Joseph if he was okay with the timing, he probably would be, but not that day.
What are you waiting on? What is the long-standing dream of yours that is on hold? What prayer or plea appears to have ‘No’ as the answer?
In a day of High-Speed Internet, anything short of instant is too long! To think that I used to think my 486 was fast compared to my XT, I just dated myself.
Wouldn’t you just like to wake up to success tomorrow morning? I would. I would love to take the mess of my life, my over-the-top struggle and just watch it vanish in Disney moment. Who wouldn’t? Unfortunately, that is not how gown-up life works.
It sure did not work that way for Joseph. He had to process his life, as do we; we really don’t advance, indeed grow and change, until we do.
Throughout the narrative, Joseph was referred to several times as successful in all that he did. That wouldn’t have been my version of success, I could easily come up with several other words, but from God’s vantage and perspective he was growing and changing even though, from mine, his life seemed to get worse. Sometimes it just doesn’t seem to make sense to me, but God isn’t waiting for me to catch up or for my permission to get or give understanding.
We might even concede to handling the ‘Process,’ but make it happen now. Don’t make me wait until growth happens or seasoning takes place.
There is a little-concealed phrase in the great biblical ‘Hall of Faith’ that is easily missed. It says, “…whose weakness was turned to strength;” (Hebrews 11:34, NIV) the quote is an operational key for life. God uses weakness. Did you hear that? I know you read it, but did you hear it? God uses weakness, then, now, in your life and mine. Stop for a moment; read that last sentence out loud so you can hear yourself saying it; grabbing this concept is so crucial for your equilibrium and wellbeing. It means that the mess, the screw-ups don’t’ have to remain that way. It means that just as Joseph came through and out, you can too.
You can experience a transformation from mess to message. You can leverage your past for success in your future, but even better than that, you can leverage your past for someone else’s future.
Just because it isn’t instant doesn’t mean it won’t happen.