For the majority of my adult life I have had this unending sense of something more, something greater, more exciting, more effective…a better future. There have been times where people encourage me and times when people discourage me. There are times when I listen to the encouragement and there are times when I have listened to the discouragement, but in the end the sense of something greater always comes back to the surface. For many years I wondered what was wrong? Why could I not simply be happy with the status quo? Why can I not just settle down? And now after 40 years I have come to a conclusion. This is who God has created me to be; He has created me to push the limits, expect better, and pursue what I know to be excellent in every relationship or organization I am a part of. I now know I have two things that I must pursue: 1) to call people to a higher level (spiritually, physically, emotionally, occupationally, etc.) and 2) to recognize individuals God given gifts and talents to help them walk in those things.
The risk is, I must be willing to accept the fact that not everybody has the same desire to challenge the norm, ask the hard questions, do things differently, and that is ok… If I hit a brick wall I need to simply keep going in the direction the Lord calls me to go.
Before I dive into this, I am going to give a disclaimer that this is my opinion and me asking what if questions.
Joseph was a young man with 10 other brothers, but just happened to be the most loved son of his father, Jacob. I am sure he was a snotty, know-it-all, little brother who knew his dad liked him the best. Put yourselves in his shoes, how many of us wouldn’t act the same way? We also know that Joseph had some pretty interesting dreams that he happily shared with his family. Being a little brother myself, I am certain that when he told his family about the dreams, he was full of pride and hormones that made him feel invincible. But, what if at the same time Joseph knew God had a big plans in store for his life? What if he knew he was going to make a significant difference? What if he was determined to figure out the path God had for his life? And, what if a lot of that determination was perceived to be cocky, prideful, and illogical youthfulness?
I ask these questions, because can you imagine being thrown into a dry well by your own family as a young man and coming out with hope? Almost certainly, there were mean and personally hurtful words being thrown around as he was dropped into the well. Then a little later you are fetched from the well and sold to strangers from a foreign land. Stop, and think about that for a second…was Joseph discouraged beyond all hope, was he consumed by anxiety, was he on the verge of giving up? No, scripture says God was with him. He proceeded to become great in the eyes of Potiphar, being a humble servant of the his master’s house, just as Jesus would do decades in the future. Then he had it all taken from him again because someones selfish desires were not met and they couldn’t deal with their own sin. Betrayal, the worst feeling of them all, and Joseph was not deterred from who God called him to be. Again, God being with him, he becomes an even lower and humble servant of the king’s prison. And again, he rises to the occasion because he knew God had called him to something great in His Kingdom.
I don’t need to go any further in the story because many of us know it. God used Joseph in a pagan land, with a pagan king, to save His remnant. Joseph did not lose hope, he did not let people discourage him, and his circumstances were NEVER beyond God’s help. He did not despair, because he knew he belonged to a loving God who had a loving vision. He knew God would bring good out of a hopeless situation.
My sense of a better future has nothing to do with material possessions, because honestly, I have learned that material possessions only leave me wanting. My sense of a better future is my desire to raise up leaders who are willing to lay down their lives for others just as Jesus did. We need people who pursue relationships for the sake of seeing the other persons life improved, not filling their own personal holes. We need a church who is willing to lay down personal preferences in favor of biblical absolutes and that means loving people in spite of what people’s perception of us is (did Jesus care what people thought of him when he was speaking with the woman at the well?). We need believers who are willing to sacrifice their own comfort for the sake of the Gospel message they carry within them. We need Christ followers who are willing to give up the head of the table for the wash basin and a willingness to wash the junk off of people’s feet. Am I willing? Are you willing?
Be encouraged…don’t lose the vision God has planted in your heart,