Today, I've already departed once from Proverbs 31, so why not twice? I've received a word from my Good God that is so strong and full of life I cannot help but share.
My sweet friend Elizabeth posted something on her blog a few days ago that I've mulled over since reading it. The post is titled "living sent." She writes:
I had no 'life plan,' no real direction... no hope. It is obvious to you, my dear readers, that I was totally lost in the world of "no."
But then--gratefulness of Grace!--I realized it had taken the stripping away of everything to get to the something of God's heart and mind. During this chiseling process, I went back to the Beginning and read Genesis. Adam, Eve, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob, Rachel and Joseph all play significant roles in the unfolding drama of God's love affair with women and men--all in light of the yawning chasm created by sin.
I've heard many sermons preached about or referencing Joseph; most of them trumpet the 'forgiveness' scene at the end of the book: when Jacob dies and Joseph's brothers are afraid that Joseph will now feel free to kill them, Joseph reassures them by saying, "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives" (50:20). The moral of the story/sermon is that God uses even evil situations to bring about good.
I agree with this completely; however, between Joseph's hardships in slavery and his grandiose pronouncement at the end of the book, I noticed something revolutionary that bridges the gap between living out a prison sentence and reigning over Egypt.
Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no plowing and reaping. But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt. (45:4-8)
Joseph was sent to slavery and prison; he was directed into the dungeon and into the palace. And he knew it. No matter where he was or what he was doing: Joseph lived sent.
Who am I--and who are you--to do otherwise?
God sends. God calls. God has purpose, even when we don't. Even when we feel lost, when we have been abandoned. When we have been slandered and abused. Hear Jonathan Edwards on the same issue.
Love to God disposes men to see his hand in everything; to own him as the governor of the world, and the director of providence; and to acknowledge his disposal in everything that takes place. And the fact that the hand of God is a great deal more concerned in all that happens to us than the treatment of men is, should lead us, in a great measure , not to think of things as from men, but to have respect to them chiefly as from God- as ordered by his love and wisdom, even when their immediate source may be the malice or heedlessness of a fellow-man. And if we indeed consider and feel that they are from the hand of God, then we shall be disposed meekly to receive and quietly submit to them, and to town that the greatest injuries received from men are justly and even kindly ordered of God, and so be far from any ruffle or tumult of mind on account of them.
Another friend said not long ago, "I don't trust myself. I only trust His goodness to me." Only He is pure. Only He can be trusted.
I am moved by what Elizabeth calls "the gratefulness of Grace" that my Lord is Sovereign because He has said so. And that challenges us to "live sent" even while our dreams lie in pieces, the harsh words still echo and the pain still throbs in our hearts.
You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people. Genesis 50:20