All my life I have been guided by a sense of providence; from early on in my walk with Christ, an awareness of some unfolding dream, much like what I perceive Joseph might have felt. I began to study the Old Testament, with focus given to Abram and the generations that followed him. The dream in me of reaching a city, seemed so improbable that divine guidance would be critical.
Risk taking, stretching beyond my capacity, would be repeatedly required. I would often find myself leading in situations for which I was unprepared and until late, always feeling that I had added value to the scenario, again much like Joseph. However, this last round of politics, compelled by a sense of need to follow heart over head, seems only beneficial if one considers the observations of fellow leaders, somewhat perplexed by one who would not remain silent when truth was at stake.
Yet, the journey I had planned now seems injured and I find myself troubled by my actions. Ironically, and only after the fact, am I much more aware of my errors, as I pour over leadership material that for whatever reason, seems a “day late.”
Habits, perhaps disciplines, formed over 40 years are hard to shake; so, I find myself delving into these same scriptures in search of an answer. The dream has always been an application of spiritual insights within a secular environment. Revelation that is spiritually discerned, which might bring solutions to a world that more than ever, seems to be coming “unglued” economically, socially and especially spiritually. Joseph was all about that.
So, what does one do when to some degree they have been in a role that should have made a significant difference, followed their heart, only to discover the hard “truths” veiled by the politics of the day? Herein lays the benefit of a daily discipline in the Word.
Forty years and I find the Book still speaks to my heart. Perhaps Joseph’s dream was only Israel’s positioning and not an end in itself, as for years I had come to believe. In fact, the economic miracle that Joseph brought to Egypt was only a short term provision to draw Israel into Egypt. My lifelong questioning of God’s neglect of Joseph in the end, may have been my error, though his children and in fact his bones seemed lost in the transition to Moses” leadership. Without Joseph, there would be no dramatic exodus story, in fact, no Moses!
This morning as I poured over this man’s final moments, perhaps for the hundredth time, I read an 1884 article from W.T. Turpin. “The names of Joseph’s sons, born to him in the land of his exile, are full of the deepest interest and significance; his own history, remarkable and chequered as it was, I do not here refer to further than to notice, how it sets forth in figure and in type the varied exercises and trials to which a servant of God is subjected, in order that he may be a suitable vessel for the Master’s use.”
Ephraim, a name that means fruitful, unlike his first born brother, Manasseh, whose name means forgetting, was positioned with a blessing from Jacob, to the dismay of his father Joseph. Yes, it would be Ephraim’s offspring from which the leader Joshua would emerge once Moses had passed. It would be Joshua that would reposition a post-exodus people in the land of Canaan. So what would be necessary for Joseph given this new awareness, given that what he had dreamed for Manasseh was now thwarted by the aged Jacob? You have to wonder why the first born would be named “forgetting” and the unlikely emerging family leader be named “fruitful” prior to Jacob’s blessing? Metaphorical perhaps, but again, I am the benefactor of this beautiful story.
The leadership lesson to me this morning was the dynamic required of Joseph himself, if he was to afford a larger dream to move forward;though the plans for his firstborn would seem to have been woefully diminished (Gen. 48:17-20). The alternative, a fatal blow to his dream, just one more unforeseen turn in the road by a man sold into slavery by his brothers, thrown into prison by a seductive master’s wife, still yet salvaging his family from famine, only to have his father offer a misplaced blessing over his first born. Joseph could have gone to a dark place, for the only hope at this point was a box for his bones, his last request as he lay on his death bed.
Perhaps it was the prophecy sandwiched in the blessing prayed over Joseph by his father, as Jacob (Isreal) lay dying:
“Your father’s blessings are greater than the blessings of the ancient mountains, than the bounty of the age-old hills. Let all these rest on the head of Joseph, on the brow of the prince among his brothers.” (Gen. 49:26 NIV).
Forgetting (Manasseh) the dream Joseph had for his elder son, and accepting the providence of the God he had served, was a shift that had to occur within the dreamer, if his life was to be fruitful. He had brought the dream as far as he could and like his father before him, he would now have to entrust the dream to future generations, with no assurance beyond his faith that his life had served the significant purpose he had always dreamed for. Never an easy thing for a dreamer, “…but his bow remained steady, his strong arms stayed limber because of the hand of the Mighty One of Jacob…” (Gen. 49:24 NIV).
“It is truly a wonderful emancipation to a man, when what he has found and possessed in heaven throws into shade and obscurity and oblivion all that natural pride of birth and pedigree which are connected with our “father’s house.”
For further reading: http://www.stempublishing.com/authors/turpin/OP2_3.html