Thursday, June 11, 2015

How to be Ready for Opportunity

Joseph is one of my favorite Bible characters. What I like most about him is that he was unstoppable. He prospered where ever he was, even in what we would call bad situations, all because God was with him. God was what made the difference. The last time I was reading Joseph's story I was arrested by some thoughts. 

Joseph interpreted the dreams of the butler and baker and asked the butler, who was to be restored to his position, to remember him to Pharaoh. The next thing you read is that "after two full years..." (Genesis 41:1) Two full years. I can imagine how this went. The first day the butler was out Joseph had to be so excited! This was going to be his day. Pharaoh would release him from prison. (I think it's also interesting to note that while Joseph was doing God's will where he was he wanted something different. Our emotions don't have to govern how we live and they don't make us bad even when we would like to change them.)

Back to Joseph, he had to wait expectantly that first day. And the day after and that next week.  He had to think each morning "maybe this will be my day.." But hope would die a slow, painful death. I don't know at what point I would decide that the butler had forgotten me or that no one cared, but I would have gotten there. Joseph must have realized at some point that either the butler forgot him or Pharaoh wasn't releasing him. 

I probably would have questioned God about why He was leaving me in prison even though I was serving Him diligently. Why I had to be wrongfully treated when I had obeyed Him. Of course now we can see that God had a plan. God was going to make him second in the kingdom but Joseph did not know that. 

What if Joseph had quit? What if in those two years He had given up and told God he was done? If he had stopped serving faithfully? He wouldn't have been keeper of the prison for sure. A little further in the chapter you see that he was abruptly called to Pharaoh to interpret his dreams. They just came and yanked him out with no warning. That must have been quite startling for a man who was sure he had been forgotten. But how was Joseph ready for that after years serving with little recognition? 

1. Joseph kept his daily walk with God. He was going to be ask to interpret dreams. Joseph is always careful to give the credit to God when he interprets dreams. That means his relationship with God had to be such that he could call on Him for help at a moment's notice. Can you imagine how different the story would have been if Joseph had stopped serving God and then had been asked to interpret the dreams? He couldn't have. Or at least he would have had to spend time getting right with God first. Life is not something we can do on our own. When God sets an opportunity in front of my face I want to be serving and be ready. 

One of the things I was most glad about when Micah had his crisis was that I was upfront with God. I had been trying to serve Him. I didn't feel like I had tucked God into my back pocket and was calling on Him now that I had an emergency. We don't know what's coming in life; we just know that we will need God. 

2. Joseph was serving. We need to be ready for what God brings our way. Whether your current place is where you dream of being or somewhere you would rather not be, serve. Serve the best you can. Ask God to help you give that place your all. It honors God and it will prepare you for the rest of your life. We cannot walk with God without serving where we are. God transforms us from the inside out when we spent time with Him and obey Him. 

The next thing may not be something "big" to most people. Joseph rose to power seemingly quickly but some of God's people served quietly, unnoticed for all of their lives. But their work was important. Maybe you are preparing yourself for a job change with these two steps. Or getting ready to add a new baby to your family or start serving in a new ministry at church. It might not be something big like going to the mission field or becoming a popular speaker. But if you are walking with God daily and serving where you are, God can keep using you. When we stop obeying, we stifle our usefulness. 

And motherhood note: it's easy to say I'm going to keep serving in these years of raising littles and I'll be ready for the big work. But that's not true. These years of raising littles are the big work. While the work is often routine and repetitive it is holy, sacred, important. This shaping of little souls to be future men and women of God is not a work to be taken lightly or passed off as mundane even if it's unnoticed or unvalued by society. Don't buy into that lie. You are doing the work with those babies. Doing the work for God doesn't mean you'll never be frustrated or question whether you're making a difference. That is just part of life. Mother with your hand in God's.)

Would you be ready if a big opportunity opened up in your path this week? Have you been staying close to God and serving? 

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