Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Worth the Wait

Have you ever seen the musical "Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat"? It's based on the Bible story of Joseph in the Old Testament. In the story Joseph has dreams where he is lifted up over his brothers and his parents. His brothers get jealous and sell Joseph as a slave... but many years later Joseph has risen to a position of glorious power and the brothers come to him, groveling for food.

The musical version includes a song that has these words about half way through.  The brothers are gathered before Joseph, the governor of Egypt:  --  [Watch this part of the movie on YouTube by clicking here]
"We are just eleven brothers,
Good men and true
Though we know we count for nothing
When up next to you.

"Honesty's our middle name...
Life is slowly ebbing from us,
Hope's almost gone.
It's getting very hard to see us
From sideways on.

"Grovel, grovel, cringe, bow, stoop, fall.
Worship, worship, beg, kneel, sponge, crawl."
Joseph responds:
"I rather like the way you're talking,
Astute and sincere.
Suddenly your tragic story
It gets me right here."
(With a sarcastic look on his face, he points to his heart.)

In the end the brothers get their food--and Joseph forgives them for all they have done wrong. In Genesis 50:19-21 Joseph says: “Do not be afraid! Am I in the place of God? Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good, in order to preserve a numerous people, as he is doing today. So have no fear; I myself will provide for you and your little ones.”

It's a wonderful story--a true story--a story that points forward to the excellent gift of God through Jesus Christ, where He forgives us for all the evil we ever have done and promises an "eternal weight of glory" beyond our wildest dreams (Second Corinthians 4:17).  God is finally in control and that's a very good thing.  Everything. in the end of all time, finally, eventually, it will be made right (Romans 8:28).

But we're not there yet!  In this life, we're in a position like Joseph's brothers.  So often we need to grovel and compromise.  We're even commanded to do it.  Honor your parents.  Work as to the Lord.  Obey those in authority.  Follow the rules.  I hate it.  I hate groveling.  I hate following other people's rules, especially rules that I don't think make any sense. 

As many of you know I'm now available for call to a different church or ministry.  I'm waiting to see where the Lord will call me to serve next.  And, I'm praying about it, a lot.  But I also find there's work to do.  I need to communicate.  I need to let people know who I am.  In a sense, I need to sell myself.

We all do that.  Whenever any of us are looking for a job that can feel like "groveling" as we fill out applications and wait for an interview.  And when we get the job we follow policies and procedures.  And we're never appreciated as much as we deserve, right?

Life in this world often means bowing to powerful people, hoping that things will turn out.  Sometimes, like for the brothers, it works out.  The brothers and their families moved to choice land in Egypt and were safe and well for quite some time after.  Maybe it's worked out for you so far.  Maybe not.  Or maybe you're like my wife and I, really not knowing what the next few months will bring.  But, whether it seems to be working or not, most of us continue to follow the ways of the world.  We are, in many ways, still like those old brothers of Joseph.  Grovel, grovel, cringe, bow, stoop, fall...

That's the kind of situation that Christian believers were living as a man named James wrote them a letter.  I'll be preaching on James 5:7-11 on Dec. 12.  This "James" was most likely a half-brother of Jesus and the leader of the church in Jerusalem.  He's writing to Christians who are living very much like we do.  Some are rich.  More are poor.  There is groveling, jealousy, complaining, anger and gossip.  They know what they need to do to get by.

In this letter (also called an "epistle") of James, God speaks against the normal ways of the world.  God warns arrogant and wealthy of His coming judgment.  He commands them to be generous and tells them not to worry about the loss.  And the Lord speaks against too much groveling.  In James 2 it says "Don't show favoritism" and then gives an example of how they are honoring those who are wealthy and powerful while dishonoring the poor.  But he also tells us not to complain and grumble.  Just be patient and pray.  Don't fight, don't worry.  God will work it out in the end.

Here's the passage I'll be preaching Dec. 12:
James 5
    7 Be patient, then, my brothers and sisters, until the Lord comes. See how patient a farmer is as he waits for his land to produce precious crops. He waits patiently for the autumn and spring rains. 8 You also must be patient. Keep your hopes high, for the day of the Lord’s coming is near.
    9 Do not complain against one another, my brothers and sisters, so that God will not judge you. The Judge is near, ready to appear. 10 My brothers and sisters, remember the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Take them as examples of patient endurance under suffering. 11 We call them happy [blessed] because they endured. You have heard of Job’s patience, and you know how the Lord provided for him in the end. For the Lord is full of mercy and compassion.
Am I willing to wait and allow the Lord to lift me up when he chooses? God promises glory beyond our wildest dreams.  All that's required of us is a little time.  For now, we follow along and do what we must.  We pray and humble ourselves under God's hand.  One day at a time. 

It may take quite awhile, but, trusting God's great promises, it's worth the wait.

No comments:

Post a Comment