Saturday, November 16, 2013

But While...

20 Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined. But while Joseph was there in the prison,
21 the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden.
22 So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there.
23 The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph’s care, because the Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.
Genesis 39:20-23 NIV

I've only ever studied from the King James Version of the Bible but I when read another person's comments on this verse from another writing it rung so true.  I had to find them and explore the idea a little more.  The key words are "but while" toward the end of verse 20.

"But while" denotes the passage of some period of time that Joseph was in the prison.  Obviously he was there long enough to come to the warden's attention.  God was working, either on something in Joseph (or in others) that needed refining before he could complete his life's mission or perhaps even that the time just wasn't right yet.  We don't know the mind of God or the many things He is working to bring about beyond our limited mortal vision.  Those are easy words to say, but hard to live.

I can't even begin to imagine what must have been going through Joseph's mind right then.  He'd just done the right thing and fled Potiphar's wife as she tried to seduce him and then she lied and he went to jail for it.  That doesn't sound much like God and you are on the same side...

From that perspective, maybe I can imagine.

For the past couple of years I've felt like I've been wandering in a spiritual desert.  No matter what I try to do right, I don't seem to be finding any favor with God.  I don't see His hand at work and I don't feel His presence or blessings that I so desperately want.  Life is hard in the dark.  Maybe I'm in some kind of metaphorical prison?  Maybe I'm just experiencing one of life's "but while's."  Maybe not feeling God's presence and blessings is coming from my side... my attitude about life's current circumstances.  Maybe I gave up on Him and started to quit believing.

Maybe it's up to me to fix that.

Photo from The Art Needlepoint Co.
I've always had a notion that I have some unique purpose here on earth.  Something big, perhaps even notable, to accomplish during my life.  Whether that idea is rooted in truth or my own blind sense of self-importance is yet to be seen because as much as I've felt that way, I've never been been able to figure out what purpose my existence serves.  Maybe God is wanting to refine something in me.  Maybe whoevers' life I need to impact isn't ready for it yet. Or maybe it's just not time for my part in God's plan to be played out.

Once in awhile, I get a fleeting glimpse that somehow seems like it's tied to my purpose.  Coincidental to this scripture about Joseph, I saw (and felt that connecting glimpse with it) this needlepoint.  I thought it was very interesting that the colors of his coat are depicted as people.  Maybe it's the people he influenced in his life or who influenced him?  We often think about the people around us as adding color, depth, or excitement to our lives.  Others have even described life as a tapestry where you can't see the light and bright colors without the dark to define them.

So...  "but while" I feel so much like I'm hidden from God's view maybe now is a time when I need to refocus on the people around me and, metaphorically speaking, spend some time sewing on my own neglected "coat of many colors."

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