What do we gain by all of our hard work? I have seen what difficult things God demands of us. God makes everything happen at the right time. Yet none of us can ever fully understand all he has done, and he puts questions in our minds about the past and the future. (Eccl. 3:9-11 CEV)
Joseph remained a slave until his own words had come true, and the LORD had finished testing him. Then the king of Egypt set Joseph free and put him in charge of everything he owned. (Psalm 105:19-21 CEV)
I remember more than 12 years ago (while I was still in the university); that I sat in a bus on my way to Church with a certain brother besides me. We had a lively discussion about life, purpose, and focus; and the brother told me then that he had planned his life for the next fifty (50) years. I was wowed by his statement. I felt intimidated standing before a man who had ordered his life for the next 50 years. I was simply questioning myself and wondering whether I was ready to begin life at all. However, as I grew older and became more matured, I could now laugh at such statements, because I would have every cause to think that it is only ignorance that would make a man think that he has planned his life for the next 50 years.
You see, I believe in planning; but like I posited in an unpublished work I wrote 8 years ago, “the plans a Christian makes are within the scope of his vision”, and those plans must be orchestrated to help him live in the present reality, and not to project too far into the future. You will understand my point by the time I am through with this write up.
We will simply ask ourselves a question. Looking at the two main characters in this episode- Jacob and his son Joseph, how did they live their lives on a day-to-day basis? What did they do to arrive at their destiny?
JOSEPH: He was supposed to become a king. That was the design of God for his life; in fact, he even had a dream where he was being worshipped by his brothers. Now, what plans did he make to ‘pursue’ his dreams and bring it to pass? Nothing. He did not join a political party so that he can learn the principles of leadership. He did not go to university to study Political science. He simply lived his life, every day by day. Yes, Joseph did plan, but his plans were within the scope of his vision. While a son in his father’s house, he would have planned how to help his father’s business grow more and more. While a slave in Potiphar’s house, he must have planned how he would expand the network of Potiphar’s business. Even as a prisoner, he advanced the welfare of his fellow prisoners. When made a prince in Egypt, he prepared for the years of lack by stocking up food. Joseph did not have any 50-year plan for his life. He simply faced the vision before him and ensured that he did his best to meet up with expectations. He did not sit down to wallow in the regrets of the past, nor did he lie down to dream and plot about the unseen future. Rather, he did his best with the vision that was before him; and while he worked in the present, and kept on his fellowship with God, He who knows the future was busy plotting for Joseph’s future. The ability to project and plan for a man’s future is the prerogative of the Almighty. All the debt we owe Him as men is to seek, discover, trust, and obey.
JACOB: He was a man with great promise on his head. The Almighty God had met him at Bethel and given him an unconditional promise to be with him till the end. God was going to build him into a great nation. Now, what efforts did he make to bring that nationhood to pass. Nothing. He simply followed day by day, doing that which the Lord had set before Him. Afterall, had He not said that each day comes with sufficient evil of its own. So, Papa Jacob left God to do His job of bringing his word to pass, while he (Jacob) did the job of seeking, discovering, trusting and obedience.
THE LORD: He is the one responsible for bringing His word to pass. He is the lifter of men. He is the bestower of blessings which add no sorrow. He makes all things beautiful in its time. When He says that your time has come, He can move heaven and earth to reach you – in the space of an hour.
Many years ago, a certain middle-aged man who had lived some part of his youthful days in riotous living, decided to give up a growing music career in the world to take Christianity seriously. He became a follower of Jesus and switched to Gospel music. He tried many times to get record deals from popular music labels to push forth his talents, but he met with repeated failures. The music industries were not interested in up-coming Gospel artistes; their hands were full already. He even tried to push forth an album titled in a funny manner “You ought to listen to this”, but it also did not cross his local community. The last letter of rejection he received broke his heart. He entered his local Church that evening in tears. Approaching the position of the music keyboard, he sat down and prayed, “Lord, if no one else wants to hear me, You will hear me. I have come to play for You.” He played and sang his heart out that evening, and made himself a living sacrifice. He promised the Lord not to seek out any record labels again, rather he will spend his life leading the choir in his local church where God had placed him for the now.
He continued leading faithfully in his local church until one fateful Sunday when he did a solo in Church, and someone sat in that congregation who heard him sing – a director of a very popular Gospel music label. His music and voice touched the man’s heart, and the Spirit of God moved him. After service, the man walked up to him and said, “will you please pray about doing an album with our music label?” That music label was the popular Integrity music, and this was the story of how Ron Kenoly rose to limelight. His album, Lift Him Up, went on to become one of the record highest selling Gospel music albums of his time.
God makes all things beautiful in its time. Your responsibility is to understand and stay in your duty post. Many people think that waiting for God to lift us up means that we will not do anything; just read our Bibles, and pray. No, rather we must understand the task for the day and face it. We must do everything we are given to do today with a faithful heart and an eye on God who really rewards men. This was the secret of the ancient men. Instead of wasting time dreaming and plotting for greatness, they did faithfully and skillfully the little task God had given them for the day; and when the time came, heaven moved earth to bring them into glory.
Joseph was sitting down in his prison chambers when he was told that the king was looking for him. He thought he would be killed, or maybe set free, or maybe asked a question and then returned to prison. He never knew that by the end of that day, he would be sitting in the second highest throne in Egypt. Mighty is our God, who does awesome things!
Jacob was also going about his daily business. He had handed over his children to God; and though he prayed for them, that was all he could do. He left them in the hands of the Almighty God whose kingdom indeed reigns overall. That fateful day, he saw the mighty chariots coming back, but he did not know wheat it meant. He saw his sons alight from the horse to tell him, “Joseph is alive, he is king in all of Egypt, and he has sent us to bring you back to Egypt.” Of course, he could not believe it. Could it be true? But then, he looked and saw the mighty chariots of Egypt and other presents that only the king would have sent, and Jacob’s spirit came back to life. “So the Lord did not forget me,” he must have thought, “all these while, he was working out something.” “Oh, God!”, and he broke down and wept.
AND SO? Even today, technology has not caused the Lord to retreat into his shell. He has not left his world to run on principles. He is a God who is alive; and as many that trust Him, abandon their future to His hands, and face with faithfulness the present task; he still makes all things beautiful in its time.