For the past few weeks, I’ve been thinking about Joseph. You know, the one in the Bible. The boy with his head in the clouds. The one who always thought that he was meant for more than just a provincial life. (cue Beauty and the Beast soundtrack) His family thought he was being ridiculous. His neighbours probably blamed his parents for letting his imagination run wild. His brothers thought he was too prideful. But he just knew that he was meant for something more. That his life had a bigger purpose than the one he was presently pursuing. He probably even felt lonely because no one would believe him when he talked about his dreams. He was made fun of, and ostracized. And then, following a tragic set of events, he gets to be in charge of Potiphar’s household. That’s an important position. Surely, he must have thought, this must be it. This must be what his dreams were all about. He must have felt on top of the world and felt like he was living his dream. A head of the household was an incredibly important job. He was respected and held with high regard. Things he had never experienced all his life. And surely, he must have thought, this is my dream coming true at last.
Then tragedy struck again and he was thrown out of there and into prison. One can only imagine the devastation he must have felt. To be riding the highs of life, only to be thrown off into the pit (again). He must have questioned everything. Even the purpose of his existence. Whether he was just a pawn in God’s hands. Whether his life was a cosmic joke. All the what ifs flooding his mind. What if he had never had those dreams, he would have been content with his life with his family. What if his brothers hadn’t sold him off, he wouldn’t have been at Potiphar’s house. What if he misinterpreted the dreams? What if … Questions probably flooded his mind, yet no answers came. Is this what his life is supposed to look like now? Living in prison, trying to push his dreams to the back of his mind. Focusing on the present and trying to make the best of it. And before he knew it, he was given a good position even in prison. You could say, he was a natural leader. Through all of the things life threw at him, and through all the questions he had, he kept being the person God had moulded him to be. Maybe he kept waiting in hope that his dreams will finally come true. Maybe there was a crazy thought that his time at Potiphar’s house may not have been his dream coming true, but that something far better awaits him.
And then it happened. He was just being himself when he counted on God for the interpretation, except this time it was for the Pharaoh. And just like that, he was made in charge of not just a household, or an estate. A whole frikkin country! Absolutely insane. I can only imagine him sitting in his place of importance and taking a moment to take it all in, as his journey flashes before his eyes and finally all his struggles and pits start to make sense. And he finally understands what his dreams were about.
Imagine if Joseph was appointed as head of Egypt, as soon as he had the dream. Then there would have been just a line about him in the Bible. But his struggle made his story unique (and gave him about 10 chapters in Genesis). I’ve constantly heard that no one meant for great things, has had the easy way. And stories of people like Joseph affirms this statement.
Have you ever felt that you’re meant for more? That something great came along, and then it wasn’t yours anymore? Have you lost your dream in the struggles of life? You are not alone in this. The story of Joseph reminds us to keep going, and to keep being who you have been called to be. And if what you thought was your dream has been taken away, it only means that it was meant to prepare you for something greater. And if there is a voice inside you telling you that you’re meant for more, believe it. Because you are meant for more.
The other day when I was waiting at the bus stop, a friend of mine saw me and walked up to me for a chat. A few minutes into the conversation, he asks me who I was waiting for. Now it may seem obvious to you lot, about why I was waiting at the bus stop, but I live among friends who take cabs to places and I used to do that too. Until recently, I discovered my spending habits far outweigh what I earn. And the fact that the bus costs me 5 times less than a cab, hit me like a truck and I started taking the bus. So it came as a shock to my friend when I told him I was waiting at the bus stop for a bus, because he is from a generation that waits at bus stops to meet friends (he is over 5 months younger than me, you see). Waiting at the bus stop, in Ross’ words, is like being given the “gift of time”. There is a lot of waiting involved and the buses are more unpredictable than Game of Thrones. I’ve seen a lot of people at bus stops that get restless and start freaking out, sometimes complaining loudly about the bus being late. I soon realized that the key to surviving that, is to be prepared for some waiting. I leave much earlier than I need to, so that I don’t get late to work and wait calmly for the bus to show up. This has helped me maintain my peace through the ride and show up to work, cheerful and focused at the task at hand.
That got me thinking (of course, it did). When God promises us something, be prepared for some waiting. Joseph had to wait for his God-given dreams to come true. David had to wait to be king. All of Israel had to wait to walk into the land flowing with milk and honey. All of Israel had to wait for the Messiah. Abraham had to wait for a son. There are so many instances in the Bible where there was a lot of waiting involved. But the thing to remember is that God fulfilled His promises. It is a great feeling when we receive promises and we’re so excited about what the Lord is going to do in our lives and we start to picture it. Then when we wake up the next day and see that nothing has changed, we get disappointed. Then the day after that, we see the same old life and we get frustrated. And the day after that, we start to lose hope. And the day after that we start to question if it really was from God. Then after that we live our life as we did and forget His promises.
Just today, I was making a work-related call and that person took a while to answer the phone. Meanwhile, my mind was working on some other things I had on my mind. By the time that person answered, I had to take a moment to recollect who I had called and for what reason. Isn’t it like that when we wait? We get bored and start distracting ourselves with other things and eventually forget what we were waiting for in the first place. While we wait, we must not just be prepared but we must train our hearts and minds to focus on His purpose. Once we lose sight of His purpose of those promises, we sentence ourselves to a longer wait.
We’ve been taught since Sunday School that God has a time for everything. He has the perfect time for His promises to come to pass in your life. And if He is making you wait, He is using this time to prepare you for what He has in store for you. Be prepared to wait, and be focused on His purpose.
I always wondered what it is like to “wake up on the wrong side of the bed”. I’d hear it being said all the time, but never truly understood it till today.
I woke up this morning – correction, I dragged myself out of bed this morning – with a numbness throughout my body. And my mood, ugh. It was like all this time all the things that hurt me physically and mentally were on pause and today it was like all of them decided to un-pause themselves. When I voiced out my body’s cry of pain, I had the word “lazy” thrown at me which made me want to scream bloody murder, but that was just the beginning of a very crabby day.
About late afternoon, somewhere in the midst of tears and homicidal intentions, I looked at my phone and there was an alert from YouTube about a new video. Normally, I ignore these alerts because I think I’ll watch it when I feel like it. (That doesn’t stop me from leaving the alerts on, for some reason.) As I was trying to swipe the notification away, I accidentally opened the link and the song that played made my eyes allow those tears to fall freely.
It was just what I needed to hear. That all my hurt and pain is being carried away by Him. That no matter how dismissive the world may be toward my pain, there is One who notices it all and bothers to find some way to talk to me even when I am in the crabbiest mood and refusing to listen to anyone. Even when I am so down on myself and feel like I am so alone, He finds the perfect words to show me that I am not and never will be alone. That no matter all the garbage that the world so generously keeps throwing at me, there is still hope for a very hopeless nobody like me.
Found this gem from 10 years ago.
Magnify the Lord of your life, rather than the problems of your life.
Gossip the Gospel
2 Timothy 3:10-17
That was from 10 years ago! I remember noting it down from a sermon I was listening to, but can’t seem to remember who I was listening to and hence cannot give that preacher credit. (Sorry!)
What strikes me is that even after 10 years, I am still learning to focus on God rather than my problems. In fact, just last week I was talking about how I need to focus on the God of solutions than the problems of my circumstances. I’d heard a message 10 years ago that would have saved me a whole lot of trouble over the coming years, if only I remembered it.
But that’s the thing, I forget. I hear something, it helps me in my current situation and then that sermon is gone. Forgotten as circumstances change. Then I go through something similar. And somehow, that lesson has engraved itself on my heart. So I may not know where it came from, but they manifest themselves as words of wisdom. Like I didn’t know where that discussion came from last week, but those words were from a sermon I’d heard a decade ago. And then today, I found this note scribbled in a corner of my book. And I realized that this is where I’d heard it. Isn’t it amazing?
It may seem impossible to remember the hundreds of sermons you’ve heard over the years. But rest assured that the ones you’ve really learned from, will still be engraved on your heart and will be made accessible when you truly need it.
I love Psalms! I love how they go from “O Lord where are you? Why aren’t you delivering me from my enemies?” “Don’t let me fall and die” to “But you know what, I trust you Lord. I know you’re doing something to get me out of it. Just do it fast, okay?”
It feels so real. Like our daily conversations with God. Whenever I face something, my prayers are panicky and desperate. After a while when the situation hasn’t changed but the Lord has shown me that He is with me, my prayers change to, “I may not understand Your ways, but I trust in You.” Have you ever felt like that?
After I’ve prayed that prayer, then very slowly things start to make sense. The delays have an explanation. The obstacles have a purpose. The hindrances have an end goal. It is as though the Lord was waiting for me to trust in Him to make things clear to me. I mean, of course I will never get the whole picture. But pieces of it. Trust. That is all He asks. A trust that blindly allows Him to lead, guide and direct. Even when circumstances dictate failure, a trust that knows that there is an end to this suffering. A trust that is, what’s the word for it? FAITH. That’s the word.
Everything you’re going through will require one thing from you. Faith. Faith that He holds the whole world in His hands. Faith that He can turn things for your good. Faith that He is in control, no matter what you’re going through. It may not seem like He’s doing anything, but trust Him, He is. Nothing is impossible for God (It is impossible for Him to be doing nothing. Get it?). He is working on a way out. He is making things clear. He has a plan. Just trust in Him who created you. It won’t exactly be smooth sailing, but at least you know He is with you through it all.
Have you ever faced something where you thought the whole world is against you? Well, I have. A few times in my life. Not in a paranoid way. Just in a way that no one around me was on my side, even though I was actually the victim.
So a few years ago, a colleague friend of mine and I broke up due to whatever disagreements led us to that point. But she was still my colleague so we did interact professionally. In my head, I thought we were handling it really well. Until I began to notice everyone around me. Apparently, she’d gone around and told the entire office fabricated stories about me. Every time one of them told me what she’d telling them, my heart broke. I remember going home and weeping in the shower. “But she was my friend!” I’d argue with myself. Then the saner side of me would just scoff and show evidence of her being very non-friend-like. It was a really difficult time for me considering that I had worked very hard to get to that place at work and now people were doubting my capabilities and believing lies about me. Every time I burned with anger and wanted to retaliate, the Lord just told me to “Be still”. I didn’t understand it. But I did reluctantly obey at that point. (Also I am a huge wuss and hate screaming matches) A few months from those awful two months, (without me doing anything) she messed up big time which had my seniors check her work thoroughly and found more things she had messed up in. Needless to say, … Actually wait, I DO need to say. My boss and seniors and all my co-workers changed their behavior toward me. My coordinator even came up to me and lauded me for my professionalism even when everyone in the office wasn’t being exactly that with me. This may seem small when I say it now, but it was a huge victory in my opinion and I just cannot thank God enough for it.
The Lord knew what was coming. Maybe if I had reacted then, I would have made things worse for myself. Maybe they’d still have not changed their opinion about me even after they’d changed their opinion about her. Either way, I am eternally grateful to the Lord for intervening every time I wanted to take matters into my own hands. The Lord certainly does mean it when he says “The vengeance is the Lord’s”. Now whenever I am in an unfair situation where I seem cornered with no way out, I remember this incident. I will never forget the time that God took matters into His hands so I wouldn’t have to take them in mine.
Last week, I watched Nick Spencer burn himself at the stake (figuratively, of course) when he made Captain America out to be Hydra all along. Literally, no one was happy with that development. And that somehow got me thinking.
Not every plot twist is good. Not every opportunity is welcome. Not every solution is right. Not every decision is a wise one. Not every thought is from God. There are times when people say to you, but you could have done this or that OR you must do this now. And it all seems logical at the moment. But if the Lord has told you to plant yourself there and wait for Him, no storm or wind can make you move unless you want to.
We watch superhero films and shows where they defy science and logic completely. How much more can the Lord defy our logic and our understanding of science? Our job is to trust and obey. That is all He asks of us. And it may seem illogical or things won’t make sense at first. But I’ve learned (and am still learning) that the best step I can take is the one directed by God. No matter how vague and cryptic the step may seem.