Dreams, Darkness, Destiny
Children are inspiring because their dream-machine has not yet been damaged. They live with the hopefulness that if they can dream it, it can happen. Somehow life seems to relentlessly torpedo our instinctive dream machine until it is broken, domesticated, or forgotten.
Joseph started life with dreams of greatness from God. In hindsight he should not have shared them with his brothers. His family had developed a crab culture. You can put crabs in an open bucket and they won't climbe out because as soon as one gets close, the others pull it back down. Too many churches duplicate a crab culture; dreams should be cultivated, not crabbed.
It did not help matters that Joseph was his father's favourite. When they saw the chance, they decided to humanly preempt what God had planned. But God is bigger than the wiles of sinful men, and Joseph was preserved for great things.
Josph was marked with excellence even as a slave and his chracter enabled him to rise to the top. Darkness, however, seemed to chase him down. After escaping the corruption of his brothers he was faced with the seduction of Potiphar's wife. Joseph did the righteous thing and fled - but lies and accusations harrassed him and landed him in prison.
And it's there - just at the darkest moment that we see a glimmer of hope. Genesis 39:20 says 'The Lord was with him'. There are multiple lessons for us to learn from Joseph's experience:
- Dare to dream, but look out for crab culture. Remember, dreams should be cultivated, not crabbed.
- Don't let desire derail your destiny. Joseph had the strength to say 'no' to the temptations of Potiphar's wife. Your dreams and your destiny are more important and more satisfying.
- Don't let darkness derail your destiny. That happens when we intrepret God through the lens of our experience rather than intrepreting experience through the lens of God's unchangeable character. When we interpret God through experiences we are susceptible to doubt, disgust, and indifference.
- Darkness doesn't take a holiday: it is relentless and will perpetually chase us down.
- Faithfulness does not mean fairness: someone might say that it wasn't fair that Joseph, the good guy, had to experience all this difficulty. Joseph didn't ask that question; he simply worked hard at being faithful.
- If you find yourself in prison, it's a good time for reflection and letting God speak prophetically rathern than drowning in a sea of self-pity.
- When we trust God, darkness does not derail destiny because destiny triumphs through darkness.
- Don't discount the process of preparation: dreams fromg God go through the crucible of darkness before maturing as his destiny.
- Remember the promise of his presence: God was with Joseph, and Jesus told us that he would be with us always until the very end of the age (Matthew 28:20).