I enjoy reading my Bible. Reading the Bible is always a good thing, but for a large part of the time I was speed reading the word of God so I could check it off my list (and more recently so my Bible app would stop sending me notifications that I had not completed my reading). Pretty inane, huh?! So a couple of January's ago I made a conscious decision to NOT begin reading my Bible through. Instead, I determined to read verses and chapters and books whenever I took a fancy, while committing to read SOMETHING every day. (Okay, so here's where it gets real...I missed days. I might have even missed weeks occasionally. Make no mistake...I'm not a miss goody two shoes who never misses a day reading my Bible...it happens)
A few months ago I really began to realize how incomplete my knowledge of God had been. Even though I had read my bible for a long time, I read it in a very self centered, desperate-and-afraid-of-going-to-hell sort of way. I read my Bible to figure out how to NOT go to Hell. I didn't see God as the Lover of my soul, I saw Him as the condemner of it.
In coming to this realization, I longed to know Him as He wants to be known. I wanted (and still do) to know what He wants me to know about Him and about life. So I started reading from the beginning, with the intention of learning as much as I can about who God is and how He relates to man...and to me.
I'm kind of amazed at just how much my reading has changed as a result of this perspective change. So many different things have popped out at me. I've learned so much and I'm still in Genesis.
This morning I read about Joseph and his dream interpreting experiences. My imagination is going wiiiiild. I'm imagining being called before a Pharaoh for ANY reason at all but especially being called by an agitated, frustrated and sleep deprived Pharaoh who holds my life in his hands and who expects me to tell him the meaning of his dreams.
Okay folks, here's the deal. Being asked for even the smallest piece of advice makes my palms sweaty and my heart race. Being asked to perform a task makes my stomach burn with anxiety...wondering if I can pull it off without making some terrible and irreversible mistake. So Joseph's response is mind blowing to me, especially considering his life experience up to this point, which you can read beginning in Genesis 37.
"Joseph answered Pharaoh, "It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer."He's standing before PHARAOH. And he's not panicking. I would be panicking. He has total faith that God is going to work through him--and God does! The dreams are interpreted, a system is set in place for preserving and supplying food to the people during the famine. Thousands of lives are saved. If I had been in Joseph's shoes, the Butler and Baker would have never seen their fates coming and Pharaoh and the entire population of that part of the world would have been unprepared for the famine and died of starvation. I never would have attempted to help any of them. It would have never even occurred to me that I COULD help...and if it did occur to me that thought would have been quickly squelched by "who are YOU? How could YOU of ALL PEOPLE make any difference?" and I would have sat down and just shut up and starved to death with everyone else.
The truth is, I can't help. Not really. And neither could Joseph on his own. God can. And by trusting Him and submitting to Him, His work can and will be accomplished, even through me. And the wonder is even greater...because I know who I am and just how impossible it is for me to accomplish any real good on my own.
I will probably never be called to interpret the dreams of a king or save thousands of people from starvation, but if I am...God can.
I can live with confidence...just like Joseph. Not in MY power...but in His. I can believe that I am who God says I am, because HE IS TRUTH. If He says it, it's true. I can prayerfully and hopefully ask for wisdom and humbly relay that wisdom when asked for advice. And I can confidently perform tasks knowing that God is the One working in me to accomplish it.
It's not about ME or what I can do. "With man things are impossible but with God all things are possible". It's about God and His glory and Him taking a mess like me and transforming me into the image of His dear Son.
And all I have to do is submit. Stop trying to do it on my own. Take a break. Rest. It's so contrary to our human perspective, isn't it?
2 Corinthians 1:8-11