The Big Reveal


Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still living?” But his brothers were not able to answer him, because they were terrified at his presence. Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Joseph 2Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no plowing and reaping. But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. . . . ” Genesis 45:3-7

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.

Wow. How terrified Joseph’s brothers must have been. How furious Joseph could have been. So many years of secreted guilt borne by Joseph’s brothers. So many years of loneliness, alienation, and confusion punctuated by false accusation of a worst kind and unjust incarceration. How godlessly Joseph’s brothers acted. How God-less Joseph must have felt.

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sovereign will.

Aren’t there seasons when we feel as though God has left and won’t return? As though He changed His mind and abandoned us? And yet doesn’t God promise never to forsake His. Doesn’t He demonstrate time and time again His merciful, patient power toward even the most treacherous in league against the defenseless, tearing down their pride, their high walls, muffling their rage, confounding and turning their venomous stratagems, transforming their minds, hearts, wills, showing them their fatal sinfulness and need for saving rescue?

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take! Didn’t He do that to Joseph’s brothers? Didn’t He do that for Joseph? Yes He did. Hasn’t He done that to, in and for you? Yes, He has. Won’t He continue? Yes, He will. Faithful is He who began a good work in you,to bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

William Cowper

Paternal Blessings and Backhands


“Moreover, I have given to you rather than to your brothers one mountain slope[e] that I took from the hand of the Amorites with my sword and with my bow.” Genesis 48:22

I’m not sure I’ve ever noticed this verse before. Apologies at the outset — could be a run-on ramble.

At long last, Israel (Jacob) has reached his life’s span and is preparing to move from his century plus pilgrimage onto promised eternal rest. He shares special moments with his Egyptian born grandsons, Manasseh and Ephraim, and then with Joseph. To Joseph he gives an extra parcel of land that might’ve gone to Joseph and his brothers in equal shares, but didn’t. Joseph was his favorite. It was Jacob’s prerogative to show his favoritism. Joseph was the wisest. His wisdom ended up the salvation of his father, his (arguably) idiot brothers, and entire civilizations. I picture this a deal done on the side. I don’t think Joseph’s brothers knew. One could argue they didn’t deserve to know. They had behaved so badly (save Benjamin). I wonder if they felt shame for their behavior. I wonder if some looked at Jacob as “the old geezer.” I think a few of them wanted Jacob out of the way so their lies about Joseph and their hidden dastardly man-stealing could finally stop plaguing their consciences. But however deeply bruised by them, Jacob later blesses all his sons. Some receive a back-handed form of blessing, but they are blessed nonetheless by Jacob. Though offended, though seemingly bereft of Joseph for decades, though worried for their foolish commonsenselessness, he loves them. In degrees, perhaps, but he loves them still. And he blesses them all.

Families are messy things. Having only noticed this verse today, I’ve not ruminated over-much on it, but it does put me in mind of me and my own sons. All pretty good guys. Some more mature, some more academic, some more athletic, all disappointing at times, all pleasing at times, and some closer to me than others with a closeness that shifts and ebbs and flows. I once gave advice to an expectant father: When tending toward anger at your children, keep in mind the longer view and do what you can to preserve friendship capital. Kids can’t pick their parents, and ultimately I did not pick my sons, but here we are. Though they have offended me (and I have most certainly offended them), I love them. I have no basis for rejecting them. In fact I plan to bless them. Maybe not while they place their right hand under my right thigh to solemnize the occasion as in Jacob’s day, but in some fashion or another. And that in spite of their having bruised me. As my friend, Mimi, noted the day I wrote this, love covers a multitude of sins.

Our Physiology Is A Cosmos


Our Physiology Is A Cosmos

For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. 1 Corinthians 12:14-26

My thoughts have nothing to do with the metaphorical populated, variously gifted, church of Christ. Probably more than a bit askew. Went to the spinal cord rehab doc today and am thinking about the passage above more literally than I should. As we are fearfully and wonderfully made, we can be fearfully and horribly broken. And even then our physiology is a cosmos in its own right,Spinal Cord dangling as it were by a thread. A fragile bundle of myelin sheathed neurons and dendrites. Now damaged, once synergistic systems are smashed and struggle to find balance again. One compensating for the absence of another. Another firing instinctively but not connecting with its downstream receiver. Others quieted seemingly forever. Still others sabotaging the survivor with inconvenient, never timely “less honorable” functions.

Even in these messy, inconvenient moments, my thorn in the flesh gives me cause to remember that in my weaknesses, Christ’s power is perfected and His grace is sufficient. When borne patiently my embarrassment is His honor, and I am sanctified a bit further.

Portions, Lots, Lines and Pleasant Places


Psalm 16:5-8 — The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot.The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;  indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance. I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.

Portions, lots, lines and pleasant places. You may be picturing generous arable, fertile expanses across which homes are built, families are born, callings are heard, livings are made, and histories are written. Yet not all terrain is gently sloped. Some is more extreme. Frigid. Rocky. Wind swept. Dry and dusty. Some homes are Surveyor Crewnot happy. Some of us are isolated. Some callings are cloudy. Calamitous. And history can be hurtful. Single? Family? Single again? Healthy? Sick? Wealthy? Poor? No matter.

For no matter our lot, parcel or no, short straw or long, steps wrong or right, in ease or the most difficult of circumstances, God makes His saints heirs to His promises and gives them counsel, instructs them in the night, is at their right hand, and steadies them.

Have recently seen this in Abraham’s, Isaac’s, Jacob’s stories. They were flawed and rough, but God patiently herded and prospered them. In Joseph’s abandonment and rise to great civilization saving power and influence. In Job’s hard, hard account. He was upright, yet suffered unimaginably. Great men in great swelling, steaming, surging swaths of flawed messy human history. History whose divine prime mover was no more engaged than He is today, even if more visibly apparent.

Draw near to Him and He’ll draw near to you. Trust in Him. Look to Him. Lean hard upon Him.