This was not my finest hour.
I’d been waiting for the “update” that hit my inbox on that Friday. Out of all submissions of late, I knew I’d nailed this one. I just knew it. Except that “update” proved me wrong — again.
Sadly, I did not receive this well. I was beyond disappointed. So frustrated. Am I just wasting time? Confused. Wasn’t this my perfect assignment? Disillusioned. Why not me, then? And angry, too. Did You call me to a lot of work for nothing? I was one hot mess.
Even worse, I layered on shame. I wanted to celebrate others’ successes. That’s what good Christians do. But even I knew my congratulations fell flat, revealing an ugly truth. Down deep, my un-happy-for-me outweighed my happy-for-them. Where was the generosity of spirit to which I’ve often laid claim?
Meanwhile, God was silent. Or, more likely, I was raging too loud to hear Him. A leaden lump settled in my chest as I wrestled with the reality of my non-success. Desperate for a diversion, I dug into yard work and tore through basement cobwebs. I steamrolled through distasteful chores, neglected far too long. For a full week, I did anything but write.
Then two things happened; actually, three.
First, I was reminded of Joseph’s story from various sources. This was no coincidence. What did the world’s most annoying little brother have for me? Hmm. A lot, as it turns out.
Joseph’s story is of false starts, false accusations, and false hopes. The beginning chapters reveal a painful journey (Genesis 37-41). On hindsight, it’s clear God was always present and working things for good. Joseph was never forsaken. Even in prison, he was elevated to a position of authority. By Genesis 42, Joseph has become an unqualified success and by chapter 44, pliable for God’s purposes. His story is a revelation of redemption, reconciliation, and restoration (and a fabulous read).
But seriously, how? I pondered how Joseph went from an obnoxiously entitled youth dumped to into a pit to become second in command to the Pharaoh of Egypt. He had to go through, just like me and you. No shortcuts! He couldn’t go over, under, or around disappointment and failure. He went through indentured servitude, public disgrace, and imprisonment. It took years for God’s plan to align with his readiness. How many times he must have wondered what in the world God was calling him to!
As Lysa TerKuerst gently reminds us, God was in the meanwhile. Joseph’s story spotlights God at work behind the scenes, setting the stage, positioning the players. In the moment, circumstances often seemed bleak. Meanwhile, however, God was at work. Ultimately, His purposes prevailed — as they always do.
After this latest disappointment, I really had to wrestle “meanwhile, God” to the ground. Blasting through that long-lost list of neglected chores gave me time to think on such things. This time, however, I was listening more and talking less.
Just as it is my choice to live under God’s authority, it is His prerogative to use me — or not. The “or not” sometimes sticks a bit, I will admit. I realized Joseph’s primary problem was mine, too. He had to get over himself. Only when un-entitled and genuinely grateful, was Joseph re-positioned for the fullness of his calling.
Finally, I also had to acknowledge my ugliest inner truth. Down deep I’d coveted a sister’s success. (Ouch. And I don’t even know her name!) I couldn’t possibly be “thankful in all things” with this inner conflict. It was a great relief to lay that burden down at the foot of the cross. I left my shame there, too. I’m walking much lighter for the lesser load.
Not long ago I posted a photo to Instagram of rooftop architecture designed by Antoni Gaudi of la Pedrera or Casa Mila. The building’s exterior is not terribly remarkable, given his fabulous aesthetic (think Sagrada Familia). Inside, however, are layers of brilliance in architectural design. On the rooftop, his genius is revealed in pinnacle perspective. It’s impossible to appreciate from outside or at ground-level. You must enter in (from street-side observer to participant); you must pass through (there, you’ll get a glimpse); you must go up (ascend and be amazed).
God’s truth works that way, too. As Joseph discovered, the further we sojourn (i.e. walk out our faith-journey, read his Word, understand His truth), the more evidence we find of His steady presence in our lives. Like Joseph, I will do my best with talents and time He grants. Meanwhile, God will do what He will do.
I will trust Him in the meanwhile. How about you?