This week’s readings: Genesis 40-50; selections from I Chronicles and Exodus 1-6
Are you a dreamer?
I would not consider myself to be a dreamer. As a child, I don’t remember dreaming about becoming a bride or thinking about my wedding gown…of course, I played with dolls and pretended to be a mommy. But I don’t really remember dreaming that often. Even as an adult, I tend towards being more hopeful than actually dreaming. I love to hear others speak about their dreams and sometimes just marvel at their details and faith.
One dream that I did have was to become a writer. It was a dream that I held quietly within…no one but God and I knew for quite a long time. Writing had been a thread that had tied my life together for always yet I didn’t recognize it until I was an adult. How many annual reviews as a physical therapist did I receive where the constant emphasis was on the strength of my writing…could have been/should have been a red flag…but I would not admit it for many more years.
Once I did finally spit the words out to a few people close to me…the responses were polite and a sweet “Duh!”…and I was encouraged to pursue the dream…believe the dream…reach for the dream…
That dream remained dormant for quite awhile…one would think that by finally mustering the courage…the dream would be swiftly assembled and brought to completion…but it didn’t work that way…life crowds in…vision can be clouded…perhaps God says wait…not yet but soon…during this time, I remember a conversation with a person close to me and I began to talk about my writing attempts…and I am confident that this person meant no ill will to me or my dream said…”oh, the dream…(sigh) it makes me sad…at that moment, I felt like my dream had been crumpled up into a ball and tossed in the direction of the nearest trash receptacle.
This week’s readings spoke to me about our dreams…those that we have…those that are given to us…the reactions of others to our dreams and the care that needs to be taken in continuing to believe in those precious dreams…sometimes when those dreams seem to be against all odds…and lastly, how our Big God can have dreams for us that are beyond our wildest imaginations…all this is wrapped up in the life of Joseph.
Last week, we read that Joseph had two dreams when he was 17 years old. In his youthful exuberance, he shouted it from the rooftops to his brothers and father.
Be careful who you choose to share your dreams with…Joseph’s brothers were already predisposed to lack affection for Joseph as he was favored by their father and we also learn that Joseph had given their father a bad report about them. They already hated him and when he told them that he would reign over them one day, this declaration did not sit well with any of the brothers. In fact, they hated him all the more. Although Jacob loved Joseph dearly, he could not believe what Joseph was saying and rebuked him however, he did keep the matter in mind.
Dreams can be fragile and can be easily dashed by the disapproval, laughter and unbelief of others. In the infancy of dreams, it may be best to spend time alone seeking the Lord’s heart about the dream.
Joseph’s brothers try to kill the dream by selling Joseph into slavery but it was God’s dream as well. He was with Joseph and prospered everything he put his hand. He was placed in Potiphar’s house…falsely accused…taken to jail…but even in prison, Joseph continued to find favor with others because God was with him.
A cup-bearer and baker also were accused but not falsely. They each had dreams while in prison that they did not understand. Joseph not only had dreams of his own but God gave him the gift of interpreting dreams. Joseph interprets both dreams…one with a favorable outcome, to which Joseph asked to be remembered when the dream was fulfilled. The other dream had an unwanted outcome. Both dreams were interpreted correctly yet Joseph remained in prison…forgotten it seemed.
But wait…we are not finished with dreams…Pharaoh also had dreams which had no interpretation. Alas now the cup-bearer remembers Joseph…he is sent for and states that he cannot interpret but God can. When Joseph finishes explaining the dreams and the strategies needed to avoid certain death for all, Pharaoh agrees and is actually led to say,
“Can we find anyone like this man, one in whom is the spirit of God?”
Genesis 41: 38
“Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one so discerning and wise as you. You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you.”
Genesis 41: 39,40
Pharaoh’s words to Joseph must have been overwhelming and so much larger than what he had envisioned the dream he had delivered years ago to his family…and yet the dream was only partially complete. Pharaoh gave Joseph a wife of a prominent Egyptian official. Upon the birth of his sons he said this:
For Manasseh: “It is because God has made me forget all my troubles and all my father’s house-
hold” Genesis 41: 51
For Ephraim: “It is because God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.”
Genesis 41: 52
Joseph was 30 years old when he entered his new role of service for the Pharaoh. Thirteen years had passed since the birth of his dream…a time mixed with much sorrow, pain, suffering and injustice. My Bible study notes say that Joseph went from shepherd to slave to convict to ruler.
As the famine stretched farther and farther, Joseph’s family of origin begins to feel the effect and must travel to Egypt in search of food and they come face to face with Joseph. I find it so interesting that the brothers do not recognize Joseph but he immediately recognizes them. I am sure Joseph looked different in his Egyptian attire and surely they never believed they would ever see him again. Perhaps they never had really seen him…even when he lived among them.
When sharing dreams with others…pick people that know you and really see you…pick those with discernment and always ones that are willing to take your dreams to the Father for the safest keeping.
Genesis 42: 8,9 says:
“Although Joseph recognized his brothers, they did not recognize him. Then he remembered his dreams about them…”
At 17, Joseph had a dream…soon after his brothers sold him into slavery…he excelled and then was imprisoned…he excelled again and at age 30 became second in command over Egypt…there had been 7 years of plenty and only 2 of the 7 years of famine when Joseph sees his brothers’ faces for the first time in 22 years (if my math is accurate)…it is only then that he remembers his dream…a dream that had been buried for years and tossed into a cistern…time had mellowed Joseph and he does not mention this dream…but he remembers it.
This is what Joseph has to say about the dream once he revealed his identity to his brothers:
“Come close to me…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…But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.”
Genesis 45: 5,7
Joseph comforts his brothers:
“Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”
Genesis 50: 19-20
Joseph had a dream…a God-given dream…a dream that took many twists and turns and at times was forgotten…abandoned…but God never forgot and He was with Joseph every step on the way to fulfillment…a dream that grew exponentially from the one that Joseph believed in his teens.
Are you a dreamer? If so, what is your dream? Have you grown weary of waiting? Does the reality of your life today weigh heavier than your dreams? Do you feel you don’t qualify to dream? Have others scoffed at your dreams? Did you have a dream but you have forgotten it? Do you think that dreams are for only the young at heart? Do you think it is too late to dream?
Maybe it is time to go before the Lord and spend some time together lingering over your dreams…His dreams for you.
Wherever you find yourself today…start dreaming and keep on dreaming…ask God if your dream is too small…He may say it is time to expand your vision…I know that I am going to stop hoping and do a bit more dreaming…putting my faith in a God who is able. Dust off those dreams that you have discarded and go before the Lord and get His heart, mind and eyesight. Remember He is always with you even when you find yourself veering off course and in a foreign land…who knows…it could be all apart of His wondrous plans and purposes towards you.
Oh, and one last thing…for all you dreamers and wannabe dreamers:
“Now to Him Who, by consequence of the action of His power, that is at work within us, is able to carry out His purposes and do super-abundantly, far over and above all that we dare ask or think [infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes or DREAMS]–To Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever. Amen (so be it)”
Ephesians 3: 20, 21 (Amplified)
That’s plenty for this week…I didn’t forget about Moses…we will chat about him next week…won’t you join me…and as always, you can join us here.
P.S. February’s reading schedule is listed in The Library!