ICONIC FATHERS AND THEIR CHILDREN’S FAITH
Then Israel said to Joseph, “Behold, I am about to die, but God will be with you and will bring you again to the land of your fathers. Genesis 48:21
When good fathers are alive, their children dwell securely under their shade tree. God’s favor is on the father, and by extension, the sons and daughters who share their faith. The children might not think about the day when their father no longer lives. If they do, they wonder if God’s favor will shadow them in the same powerful way it has hovered over their father.
How reassuring were Jacob’s words to Joseph. “I am about to die but God will be with you.” Didn’t Joseph already know that? God brought him safely through slavery, captivity, and enthronement. But ascending a throne in Egypt is not the same as stepping into the role of a patriarch within a covenant family. It was easier for him to follow in the footsteps of Jacob alive then to step into his shoes after death. This, every man of a larger-than-life father, feels.
In taking Joseph to Egypt, God gave Joseph distance between his iconic father and himself. He became his own person, a unique son of Yahweh. And this very thing, sons of famous fathers must do. Leave home. In their father’s shadow, it is difficult to get to know themselves and give themselves permission to be different from what others expect. How unfair to hear, “He not like his father. Or, he’s going to be just like his father!” Either way, it’s a pile of expectations. The problem with icons is that the public sees perfection. The family sees the humanity. We are god-makers and cast this heavy burden upon their children. Continue reading
GOD DOES NOT BOW TO CONVENTION
When Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand on the head of Ephraim, it displeased him, and he took his father’s hand to move it from Ephraim’s head to Mannasseh’s head. And Joseph said to his father, “Not this way, my father; since this one is the firstborn, put your right hand on his head.” But his father refused and said, I know, my son, I know. He also shall become a people, and he also shall be great. Nevertheless, his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his offspring shall become a multitude of nations.” Genesis 48:17-19
One of the reasons men try to control religion, right down to the nitty gritty of a church service, is a basic distrust of God. He is unpredictable. We say we want the Holy Spirit to come and have His way but do we really? He does things His way and what in the world would happen if we relinquished the reins? By holding on tightly, we forfeit God’s blessing. Continue reading
PRAISE-TALK FOR THE FUTURE
And he [Jacob] blessed Joseph and said, “The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has been my shepherd all my life long to this day, the angel who has redeemed me from all evil, bless the boys; and in them let my name be carried on, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.” Genesis 48:15-16
In retrospect, I can see how God provided and blessed. In the present, I fear that He will continue to do so. Words of faith are choked out. That’s unfortunate because remembrance is meant to feed my faith. When things looked impossible, God did come through. When I tried to quit life, God brought new manna to breathe hope into the crevices of my soul. Why do I not think He will continue to provide? Either I have a short memory or present circumstances paint such a dire picture that I fear even God could affect any change.
Jacob embraces his two newly adopted grandsons. Half-Egyptian grandsons, I might add. He remembers God’s promised covenant over his family. He remembers that God was faithful to preserve their lives when it looked like their line would be extinct. He praises God for the past but his language quickly changes to thank God for what He will do to bless his descendants. Faith is future.
Several decades ago, I was lamenting to a mentor that a certain portion of my life looked like it would fail. I had plenty of evidence to prove it. She listened to it all. Her reply was this, “Live joyfully confident!” When I questioned her further, she replied again, “Live joyfully confident!” I understood that she wasn’t going to spoon-feed me the meaning. Continue reading
WAITING FOR THE RIGHT MOMENT TO DIE
After this, Joseph was told, “Behold, your father is ill.” So he took with him his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim. And it was told to Jacob, “Your son Joseph has come to you.” Then Israel summoned his strength and sat up in bed. Genesis 48:1-
How Jacob reacted when Joseph and his sons arrived at his bedside. He was very ill, near death, but their presence gave him an uncanny strength to finish what had been unfinished. He needed to give Joseph the birthright of the family and adopt Joseph’s two sons as his grandchildren. The future inheritance of Israel depended on this moment and Jacob knew it.
Have you known anyone who was near death and it was predicted they wouldn’t last much longer? Then, they hung on and refused to die. Something was unfinished. There was someone they needed to see; something they needed to say. When that person arrived, they had a moment when they gained their full faculties. Like Jacob, they rose up to have a needed conversation.
After moving to Georgia, I made a connection with an older saint named Iris. She became a prayer partner and spiritual mother to me. Our bond was as deep as family and because the foundation was spiritual, our connection was like iron. Iris was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of breast cancer. It took her life in a matter of weeks. I was out of town when she lay on her deathbed in a local hospital. Continue reading
God’s Wisdom ~Lose Yourself In Me
Those who try to gain their own life will lose it; but those who lose their life for my sake will gain it. Matthew 10:39
Lose yourself in me. Do it until the edges of you become blurred in the essence of who I am. When you can no longer tell what is your mind and My mind, your thoughts, My thoughts, your sympathies, My sympathies, your passions, My passions, your tears, My tears, then you are on the right track. To be one with Me is to be somewhat confused by what is yours and what is mine. Don’t you see that this confusion is really progress?
To be I-dominated is to have clearly defined lines. You are consumed with earth and I am consumed with the Kingdom. But to be Spirit-dominated is to be one with Me, no dividing lines. When you are consumed with my glory and can’t stop worshipping, then you are entering into oneness. When you are consumed with my thoughts and can’t stop thinking about them, then you are entering into the understanding of what it means to live as my child. Remember when my Son prayed, “Let them be one as we are one.”? This is the culmination of your spiritual journey. And most importantly, this is a preview of the consummation of our marriage.
How much am I on your mind? You are always on mine.
WHAT I VALUE MOST
And Jacob lived in the land of Egypt seventeen years. So the days of Jacob, the years of his life, were 147 years. And when the time drew near that Israel must die, he called his son Joseph and said to him, “If now I have found favor in your sight, put your hand under my thigh and promise to deal kindly and truly with me. Do not bury me in Egypt, but let me lie with my fathers. Carry me out of Egypt and bury me in their burying place.” He answered, “I will do as you have said.” Genesis 47:28-30
Jacob’s wish to be buried in Canaan surprises me on the one hand. He was living in, what could appear, to be the best part of his life. His whole family was reunited. Joseph was alive and blessed. His sons were older, wiser, and had repented of earlier deeds against their father and against Joseph. They had plenty of food. Their lineage was blessed and multiplying. Why not ask to be buried where you are the happiest?
When all is said and done, it is interesting what I value most. My mind travels back, as Jacob’s did, to the places where God spoke. Jacob wanted to be buried near ‘Bethels’, where monuments marked the spots of God’s revelation. Time in Egypt, in a period of plenty, did not alter what he cherished. I also remember, with passion, the places where the voice of God changed my life. Continue reading
BEING CLOSE TO ONE WHO IS BLESSED
Then Joseph brought in Jacob his father and stood him before Pharaoh, and Jacob blessed Pharaoh. And Pharaoh said to Jacob, “How many are the days of the years of your life?” And Jacob said to Pharaoh, “The days of the years of my sojourning are 130 years. Few and evil have been the days of the years of my life, and they have not attained to the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their sojourning.” And Jacob blessed Pharaoh and went out from the presence of Pharaoh. Genesis 47:7-10
Writers in Jewish history say that when Jacob came to Egypt, the land was immediately blessed and began to heal from famine. So when Pharaoh saw that Jacob looked old, he feared that Jacob might not live much longer and when he died, the blessing would cease. If this was true, it would immediately explain a peasant rising up to bless a sovereign.
Someone who has spent a lifetime in the presence of God brings God’s presence with them into a room, a land, a home, and an environment. To those who are discerning, the impact is immediately felt. Have you experienced seeing someone come through the door and instantly feeling like everything was going to be all right? I have. Continue reading