FROM THE 'DEEP' END: Where are You God?
There’s a saying that goes something like this: “Life change either comes through inspiration or desperation.” We all hope to be inspired to do something great with our lives, but sometimes the reality is that we will stay in the rut we’ve created for ourselves until something shakes us out of it and we are forced to change our lifestyle.
My older sister had an experience with death that abruptly changed her life’s path. She worked in the corporate world right out of college, first working for a big tech company and then moving to Miami to work in sales for a major pharmaceutical. She was always chasing the next lead and constantly working, never getting to pursue the things that actually made her happy. She had a wake up call when five people that were close to her died, all within a few years. Our mom, our step-dad, our uncle, her husband and her best friend were all gone within a few short years. When her best friend died she said her only regrets were not eating enough watermelon and not drinking regular Coke. My sister realized she had a lot more regrets on her list, so she had to make a life change. A few years ago she left the corporate world altogether and now works as a full-time artist. Even though she didn’t have a near death experience herself, she saw first hand that life is short and that’s what gave her the courage to leave a cushy job and do what she had always had a passion for all along.
Ultimately, all of us will have moments that shake, shift or even crumble the foundation we’ve built our lives on. You might lose a close family member or lose a job. You might have a falling out with a close friend and may never be able see that person in the same light again. These moments of sudden and sometimes traumatic change can incite a couple different responses in us. Though we might hope to respond with hope and optimism, it’s a lot easier to respond with bitterness or anger. Who could blame you if you did? If you had a planned for your life to be a certain way, and then that plan was turned on its head, why wouldn’t you be angry?
If there’s anyone’s story that shows how life can sometimes turn out the opposite way you planned it, it’s Joseph’s story in the Old Testament. Joseph was the youngest of 11 brothers and was a bit of a dreamer, but not just in the sense that he had grand ideas about himself. God would give him very vivid dreams about his future and what he would accomplish one day. He was very open about his dreams with his older brothers, who despised Joseph for his dreams. You could call them dream killers. In fact, Joseph told his brothers that he had a dream that one day all of them would bow down to him like a king. They didn’t exactly appreciate Joseph’s grand dream, so they sold their youngest brother into slavery. And you thought your family was unsupportive.
Joseph could have given up on his dream and written off his family and no one would have thought any less of him. His whole world has changed, his family has abandoned him and he’s now a slave. But despite the circumstances Joseph never gave up on the dream. He knew in his heart that his dreams were given to him by God and nothing would make him doubt. Through a series of unfortunate events, Joseph ends up in an Egyptian prison until one day he is picked out of obscurity to interpret the Pharaoh’s dreams and ends up becoming second in command of Egypt. Joseph’s dream actually comes true and his brother’s come to Egypt to ask for help during a famine. There his brothers bowed down to the second highest official in Egypt, not even realizing it was Joseph. Joseph could have had his brothers killed right then and there, but he didn’t. What he said to them shows why Joseph kept his dreams alive through all the turmoil in his life. In Genesis 50:20 he says:
“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result.”
Joseph knew his dreams were from God and that no near-death experience would keep him from getting to where God wanted him. In fact, Joseph knew that God was orchestrating all the turmoil to work for his purpose.
The key to Joseph’s success was trusting in God despite circumstances and knowing the promise for his life. If we seek Him for our purpose, we won’t need a near death experience to bring clarity to our lives.
Pastor Eric Partin is the lead pastor of Shoreline Church in Destin and can be reached at email@example.com.