Picture The Reunion

They came into Egypt, Jacob and all his offspring with him. Genesis 46:6

Jacob and his entire family are walking in the desert toward Egypt. There are several hundred of them. Jacob is out in front. He is old, slowly plodding along with the help of a cane and a son on each side. His face is determined but the weariness of such a long journey is evident in his gait.

Meanwhile, Joseph is leaving the gates of Egypt in a royal entourage. In the chariot with him are his two sons, both under the age of ten. They come to the crest of a hill that overlooks the desert floor below. The dust settles and as it does, the scene of several hundred nomads in the distance fill his view. Joseph knows who they are. Though a mile away, Joseph cannot wait. He drives his chariot at breakneck speed downward into the valley.

As he nears his father, his horses are recklessly pulled to a stop. Joseph jumps out, sees his father a few dozen feet away, and is overcome. He loses all strength and crumbles to his knees. Jacob rushes to him and draws his head into the folds of his tunic. “My son. Praise be to God. My son!”  Jacob finally looks up to see two young boys in Joseph’s chariot. “These are your sons, my grandchildren? “Come!” Jacob says. “Come, so I may bless you.” He speaks prophetic words over each boy and kisses the tops of their heads. Everyone understands that God brought them to Egypt to save their lives. There will be a season of joy ahead.

I can never think about this reunion without being moved. And I can never picture it without thinking of the reunion that is coming between Jesus and me. It will far surpass this one.

I’ve only caught a nuance of how you feel about me. I get a sense of it each time we talk in prayer, but I’ll see the full effect at our reunion. The pleasure of my company that you describe in Scripture humbles me, Lord. Amen

Doing Something Different From Our Fathers

And God spoke to Israel in visions of the night and said, “Jacob, Jacob.” And he said, “Here I am.” Then he said, “I am God, the God of your father. Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for there I will make you into a great nation. Genesis 46:2-3

God fathers each child differently. His path is a solitary one and my journey will never be identical to that of my family. If my parents were iconic in their faith, the expectations for me to follow in their footsteps will be strong but also impossible to attain. I am not either of my parents nor should I try to be.

Isaac, Jacob’s father, was told by God to avoid Egypt during his time of famine. Egypt was off limits. But God’s plan for Jacob was different. In his time of famine, Egypt was the place he was brought to settle. Doing something different from his father had to feel confusing. 

God stretched me out of my family’s mold sometime in my mid-forties. My views of some peripheral biblical issues differed from that of my father and the legalistic church I was raised in. There were some tense discussions, and his disapproval created a shadow over our relationship. Before he died, God moved us on to the same page through some ‘end of life’ experiences.  What a gift that was.

To complicate matters, I married young into a well-known Christian family.  My father-in-law was a famous evangelist. Things were harmonious throughout the early years of our marriage because both Ron and I held to his father’s views on most every biblical issue. Eventually though, God began to take us on the journey He had planned for us. It meant leaving home and the ministry his father started. Though we still agreed on the tenets of the Gospel, our interpretations of some secondary issues of grace didn’t match. At times, we felt like outsiders, but God used isolation to bind us to Him.  We learned to hear and obey His voice above all others. 

God’s message to each of us today is clear. We are His children first and then members of our earthly family. Egypt may be denied to our fathers but permissible for us. God is a kind Father who leads deliberately, often giving His child the courage to take steps away from the ‘family’s way of doing things’. The fallout can make any of us second-guess our new direction, but God gives grace along with the call to go where He sends us. His voice is wild and wonderful; his ways are peculiar and solitary. Any price we pay is long compensated by the joy of hearing God say, “Well done!”

My heart begs to be shaped by You, and by no one else. Amen

The Path To Contentment

The spirit of their father Jacob revived. And Israel said, “It is enough; Joseph my son is still alive. I will go and see him before I die.” Genesis 45:27b-28

It’s surprising how, with Christ, my heart can be content. Jacob was so elated with the news that Joseph was alive that he was willing lay all other hurts aside and focus on the joy of seeing his son again. The joy of being reunited with Joseph eclipsed the pain of all else that had taken place before.

Over the course of my life, I have celebrated God’s goodness and celebrating was always easy.  I have also grieved losses and grieving was never easy.  It was messy and involved learning to adapt to a life without the person for whom I was grieving.  I had to be willing to go with God into a future that was vastly different than what I had known.  Only the Holy Spirit could help me to embrace it and to learn to be content. 

Ron and I were so impressed recently by our neighbor.  She had to leave her home of forty-three years to enter an assisted living facility. She grieved over all the familiar things she would have to leave behind. There was a period of sadness.  With time, God helped her focus on the handpicked things she was able to take with her to her new home. They were the things she cherished the most.  God gave her the grace to settle in new surroundings and find contentment.

It is human nature to look at what we have lost rather than what we have left. We want what we once had so much that we overlook the treasures still in our hands. God will help us re-align and re-adjust. Grieving the losses gives us an opportunity to lift our eyes to what is eternal. We find comfort, and then we find joy, as we embrace the promises of God for the future. Only God’s perspective can lead us from the throes of self-pity and bitter tears.

When we think our hands are empty, God shows us that they are, indeed, still full.  They are full of blessings we couldn’t see before now. Sometimes, it takes a lifetime to understand that the child of God is never without riches ~ even in the worst of times.

Change is certain. Security is also certain with You as my Father. Show me what is in my hands. Amen

Maybe It’s Not Over

So they went up out of Egypt and came to the land of Canaan to their father Jacob. And they told him, “Joseph is still alive, and he is ruler over all the land of Egypt.” And his heart became numb, for he did not believe them. But when they told him all the words of Joseph, which he had said to them, and when he saw the wagons that Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of their father Jacob revived. Genesis 45:25-28

When Joseph disappeared from Jacob’s life, something broke inside this father’s heart. Hope died. His spirit withered. It would be this way for another 20+ years until he got the news that Joseph was not dead as he believed, but very much alive in Egypt. He had grieved his son’s death and disillusionment had been his companion. His heart had grown numb to good news. But finding out that Joseph was alive, Jacob’s heart revived.

Can God do a new thing in my later years? Yes. Even when something catastrophic happened in my teens and I learned to adapt by closing off my heart, God can introduce healing many decades later. 

A dreamer, in response to a series of disappointments, shoves his dreams underground. Can God resurrect them later in life? Yes. Though decades seem like an eternity and dreamers are tempted to believe that life is always going to disappoint, they discover that God can write a new plotline.

What is it you’re waiting for today?  For what have you stopped hoping? Perhaps you believe that it’s futile to trust God for anything different, that God’s promises are for those still enjoying the dreams of their youth. Oh, but not everything is as it appears. Jacob held what he thought was bloody coat of his son Joseph, but the evidence of his death was a sham. Joseph was very much alive.

This could be the day of your breakthrough. Tell your heart to stand at attention to see the miraculous hand of God write the next chapter of your life.

 I lived to see my own resurrection. All because of You. Amen

Enjoying The Light Of My Predecessors

And you, Joseph, are commanded to say, ‘Do this: take wagons from the land of Egypt for your little ones and for your wives, and bring your father, and come. Genesis 45:16

Would Pharaoh have honored Joseph’s brothers if he’d only known them as Hebrews who were visiting Egypt? Never. The blessing came because of his love for Joseph. Whom Joseph loved, Pharaoh loved.

My father, a principal in our public school system, was well loved and respected. Because of that, honor was given to our family. My father-in-law, an iconic evangelist, famous for his passion for reaching the lost, was also respected. By marrying into his family, I have been blessed by strangers just because I bear his last name. My husband, Ron, is well loved too. He is hard working, faithful, an honest leader, has never made an enemy, and because of this, respect and good will have followed us.

Do I need to have an honorable family on earth to be blessed by association? No. That would be unfair if that were the only criterion. We didn’t get to vote which family we were born into.  But we are now blessed because of our association to Jesus. God, His father, loves those whom the Son loves. Because Jesus reconciled us to His Father and made us brothers and sisters, God beckons us from the land of famine to the land of plenty. He provides everything we need for the journey home to Him. Our future and inheritance are guaranteed simply because of who Jesus is.  He has presented us to His Father, validated our adoption, and secured our inheritance.

Father, I enjoy the smile You have for me today because I love Your Son.  Thank you for including me in His line of favor.  Amen

Will His Good Will Expire?

You shall dwell in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near me, you and your children and your children’s children, and your flocks, your herds, and all that you have. There I will provide for you. Genesis 45:10-11

What a promise. Family members that acted out against Joseph were forgiven to such an extent that promises of provision and protection were made to them for the rest of their lives. How easy it would have been for the brothers to distrust Joseph’s promises. It would be human for Joseph to change his mind as he remembered their sins against him.

I was once God’s enemy. My acts against him were punishable by death. Yet, because of what Jesus did, God made me right with Him and called me His friend. Like Joseph, He has made sweeping promises of love, care, and protection toward me for the rest of my life and throughout eternity.  But there are moments I’m skeptical because I remember my sins, feel the shame of them, and then shyness and fear overtake me. Confidence with God is shaken when I listen to my feelings and I’m skittish to own the promises He’s made.

Salvation gave me a priceless gift, the gift of a clean slate. My history of enmity was buried at the cross and a covenantal love relationship was born. It is ironclad, not because of me, but because of Him. If I’m plagued by the memories of my sin, the rehearsal of my past is not a holy thing. It is a satanic attack.

May my short memory take me back to the cross, not my sin. Amen