I am sure you remember the story of Joseph in the Bible. A favourite son of many, spoiled with a colourful coat, that Joseph. As crazy as the story sounds, here are a few lessons I get from it.
Remember how Joseph dreamt that his sheaf stood strong in the middle and the sheaves of his brothers bowed to his sheaf? He got so excited that he just had to tell his brothers about it. And guess what, his brothers didn’t like the sound of that very much.
And then he has the dream of the sun and the moon and eleven stars bowing to him. When he tells them that story, even his father who loves him more than all the others gets a bit peeved at him. But his brothers get more than peeved, they start plotting to get rid of him. And when they get the chance to sell him to some slave traders, they immediately do so.
Some people tell you that if Joseph had been wiser he might not have shared his dream, and avoided a life-time of pain. Maybe that is true. But I think, if he hadn’t shared his dream, it would never have come to pass. He embraced and activated it by sharing it.
Of course activating your dream may take you on a journey of pain and learning. For Joseph it meant getting sold to strangers far away by his very own brothers. That must have been excruciatingly painful.
But his journey also included great learning experiences. His dream was about being a ruler. Well, in Egypt he gets sold to Potiphar. Potiphar sees the potential Joseph has and what God has gifted him for, and soon Joseph finds himself the second in command to one of the richest men in Egypt. He was ruling. Not at his dream level, but he was ruling.
Of course, the pursuit of your dream requires that you remember who you are. And there are plenty of opportunities to forget that and to be distracted. For Joseph, that distraction comes when Potiphar’s wife tries to seduce him. It is an attack to who he is as well as a test of his dream.
Joseph is a son of Abraham. One of the chosen of God. Set apart. And Joseph remembers. He is also entrusted to rule well over Potiphar’s house. And sleeping with Potiphar’s wife, would have been in direct violation to his bigger dream. That of being entrusted with more to rule.
Of course in the end, in spite of or maybe because of his faithfulness, he still gets sent to the slammer. His brothers opposed him for his belief that he was called by God, and Potiphar’s wife resents him for being true to himself. Joseph just can’t win.
And I am sure that while he was in jail he had plenty of opportunity to become bitter. But he doesn’t. He keeps his spirit upright, and begins to rule faithfully the little he has. After all, God called him to be a ruler. I wonder what he found to rule in his jail cell that caused the jailer to take notice. Whatever it was, it caused the jailer to trust him and ask him to help him out. And pretty soon he was the ruler in jail.
Joseph had figured out that God had called him to be a ruler, and so he ruled faithfully whatever it was that God was entrusting him with at the time. Whether it was the rats in his jail cell or the wealth of one of Egypt’s richest men.
But what’s interesting is this. All he knew was that the dream suggested that he was called to be a ruler. He had no clue that he was called to be a ruler in order to save his own people in a time of famine. He was just faithful to the part of the dream he understood.
And in the very end, he has the final laugh. He gets broken from jail and promoted to be the second most powerful man in Egypt. And as he rules over the wealth of Egypt and manages Egypt through a horrible time of famine, his brothers come to him for help. And guess what, they bow before him.
When God gives us a dream, we’ll be invited on a journey with big rewards. But don’t ever fall into the belief that opposition cancels the dream. And don’t get distracted from it by forgetting who you are. First and foremost you are a child of God. And He calls you to live like one.