From Calling to Captivity

Subtitle: God’s relentless pursuit of our character.

Our lives are very fast paced these days.  To-do lists, status updates, live news and email in our phone bring things directly to us.  It increases almost everything accept our ability to have patience.  That virtue, that fruit of the spirit that seems so antiquated when we look at every other thing in our lives.  This is the reason that when we are often called to patience by God it can feel so painful.  

Why doesn’t God love me?  Why doesn’t he have good things for me.  Why doesn’t he answer my prayers?  Why hasn’t he fulfilled that word that I received a year ago?  Questions, pour out of us questioning God’s character because it is hard to grasp the gift and reward of patience and the refined character that He is giving us.  There are many stories of the same in the bible but lets look first as Joseph.

Joseph is a person we can look to for wisdom on this.  At seventeen he receives a call that sets him apart from all in his family and likely his generation.  He, the youngest, will be elevated to a point where his brothers and his parents would bow down to him.  As he relays this message to his family he receives rejection and jealousy and is quickly sold into slavery by his brothers.  

After this Joseph chose to respond in faithfulness and righteousness.  Quickly he is elevated by his master to handle all of the affairs of his house.  He is falsely accuses of taking the one thing that was not his, his masters wife.  He is thrown into prison.  

Again, Joseph chose to respond in faithfulness and righteousness.  Quickly he is elevated by the prison keeper to help run the affairs of the prison and he is sustained by steadfast love from God.  He faithfully calls on the God in this time and is able to step out in faith to hear God’s voice for other prisoners.  He correctly interprets two dreams for Pharaoh’s officials and is then forgotten about again.  

Joseph turns 30 and 13 years after he receives the dream from God that he will be elevated above all in his family he is called by Pharaoh to interpret two dreams.  In faithfulness and righteousness Joseph he defers his ability and speaks of the faithfulness of God to interpret his dream.  Joseph, submitted to God, correctly interprets the dreams and advises on how to proceed.  He is elevated from prison to 2nd in command of all of Egypt.  He is set in position to administer all of the affairs of Egypt for the next 14 years and on.  

God used these 13 years to refine a few of Joseph’s gifts that he was given.  Joseph’s gift of administration was used in Potiphars house, prison and in all of Egypt and was consistently honed each step of his journey.  Also, receiving and interpreting dreams was a way God spoke to Joseph and he used Joseph to bless nations.  

Lets close by making a few reflections on Joseph’s story:
Maintaining character in the captivity of unresolved callings shows trust in a God who is outside of time and desires transformation more than resolution.  In Potiphars house he respected his call by respecting God’s commands, his body and by submitting to his master.  Even in prison, where logisitically he was at his lowest he put his faith in God and SERVED those around him.  Joseph let himself be sustained by the Lord’s steadfast love (prison), there was a daily abiding that helped maintain the compass of Josephs purpose.  Any loss of character could have compromised his calling but it was his CHARACTER that maintained him even when his external reputation was destroyed.  Joseph lived a wild live that was not contained in a linear path or a predictable track of promotion. Instead, his life was based on faithfulness which allowed him to walk in integrity in every task from the smallest to the largest task.  Often, God’s chosen vessel is sitting in prison as God crafts the perfect story for him to shine in.  Joseph finished well because he let God form his character to match his calling.  The road was long and hard but in the refining God found a pure vessel that was submitted to the things of God when the time came for God to be glorified.

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