On Vacation From God

When Joseph came to them in the morning, he saw that they were troubled. So he asked Pharaoh’s officers who were with him in custody in his master’s house, “Why are your faces downcast today?” They said to him, “We have had dreams, and there is no one to interpret them.” And Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Please tell them to me.” Genesis 40:6-8

Many royal courts employed dream interpreters since, in the near East, dreams were accepted as a way of foretelling the future. Since the royal cupbearer and the baker were in prison and away from the privileges of the court, they had no access to an interpreter when they needed insight about their own dreams. But Joseph was intuitive, read their body language, and asked them why they were downcast. They admitted to their need of an interpreter. Joseph recognized this as a divine appointment. He ascribed the power of his interpretation to God only and invited them to share more.

How many divine appointments have I missed? Would I have lived in my own world if I had been Joseph? Would I have even interacted with my two cellmates or would I have withdrawn and become reclusive? Would I have seen their need as an opportunity for God’s power to be on full display?

God knows who will be in proximity to me on a certain day and He will cause someone’s distress to surface at the very moment our worlds intersect. My part is to live prayerfully so that I recognize this opportunity when it’s standing in front of me.

Who is downcast nearby? Who is sick? Who lives in chronic pain? Who was up all night churning because they lack wisdom about a decision? Who is crying alone? Who is afraid of the future and wants to rehearse the latest headlines about a threatening pandemic? These are all opportunities. God’s kingdom begs to come to the people God is constantly  putting in my path.

Fear keeps me from reaching out. If I haven’t settled matters of faith and trust in God for myself, I won’t have much in the way of encouragement and insight for others. If I live in crippling fear, how will I comfort others with the promises of God! I can’t give away what I don’t possess for myself.

The amazing thing about Joseph is that despite the multiple decades of slavery and imprisonment, he did not take a spiritual vacation. He stayed engaged with his God. His spiritual skills were sharpened by pain, not dulled. This prepared him to trace the fingerprints of Yahweh and resist the temptation to think of any  occurrence in his life as mere fate.

You are sovereign over all my steps, even my mistakes.  The kingdom is here now, right now, in my messes and mountaintops.  Open my eyes to all the possibilities for spreading the Gospel.  Amen

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