Commotion in the desert
Friday, March 22, 2019
From Genesis 37
Just throw him in that cistern there.
But I had a Reuben Sandwich yesterday, and thought well of Joseph’s brother. Truly, he tried to protect Joseph by throwing him down the well.
I wonder what it was like for Joseph. Strong men who hated him ripped off his fancy coat of many colors. Brothers can hate much more than strangers. They were so jealous, so offended by Joseph’s dreams of his power over them, and their humiliation.
At the bottom of the dried out cistern, in darkness lit only by tiny light above, Joseph is silent. He knows his dreams mattered; he believes they are God’s messages, warnings. But should he have shared them so freely? He was surprised they threatened his brothers, his father and mother.
He did not see those dreams as threats. Of course not. Joseph was the golden boy in his family for so long. Confidence in himself and his relationship with God and his family were the foundation of his life. The dreams described him just the way he saw himself. But never did he think he was a threat to anyone!
There were important facts about the future in those liminal dreams. Were they preparing the whole family for a very different future? Of course Joseph had an important part, but so did all the others. Didn’t any of them have dreams?
Joseph was not dead. Not yet. He stood straight against the cold stone cistern wall His feet sought dry sand but found only damp clay. There were few edges for his fingers to grasp; he could not climb out. He sat down again and felt the cold against his legs. Abandoned! Where had God gone?
Was God disappointed in Joseph as a brother and a son? How strange to feel this way for the very first time. Knowing now just how it felt to be alone and helpless, emptied without hope.
“Joseph, you thought you knew me. But now, Joseph, you will need me. And your knowing will grow as your need for me grows.”
Joseph knew his brothers sought his humiliation and death. But inside him something changed as God spoke again. God was not far off. God was right here, in his ear.
“Joseph! You are not in charge. Let me lead.
“The dreams are just beginning. I am here.”
He hears commotion up above. The looped end of a rope falls down on his head. Joseph takes the rope and sets his foot down in the loop. Someone pulls him up. He wonders, as the light grows stronger, what it will look like to let God lead. He can’t wait to see.
Thank you for giving us this story, Lord. You never push me, but you never leave me. What famines there are, what pain – you are there. When I pass through the waters, you are with me. When I walk through fire, I will not be burned. And I will learn to let you lead.