Promises for the New Year
I recently finished the book “Restless” by Jennie Allen. To be honest, it wasn’t the first book of its kind that I’ve read – where you catalogue your passions, strengths and experiences to find your purpose. It was, however, the only one where I felt that I was reading the pages of my own journal.
And woven throughout this book full of personal stories and strategy sessions, was the story of Joseph, from the book of Genesis.
I have grown up like many people having heard the stories of Joseph and his colorful coat. I know him as “The Dreamer” who became an exceptional leader. But as I read the story this time, a different man emerged.
I saw Joseph as a man who had been broken.Repeatedly. A man who learned the meaning of humility and servanthood. And I saw a man who had great faith in God.
Joseph lived a life of mountaintop highs and extreme lows. His life reads like this: 1 step forward and 2 steps back: From the pit of a well to being sold by his own brothers. (Think about that for a second. What kind of hatred his brothers must have felt to sell him to foreigners. And then lie to their father about his death for decades!) Joseph went from the height of being an estate manager to a prison cell overnight. Over and over the theme of humility and trust in God jumped off the page at me.
And yet, if I read in between the lines, I believe that Joseph probably had moments of doubt. There had to be days when Joseph shook his fists at God wondering “why did you ever give me that stupid dream in the first place?” I’m sure there were nights when cried out in anger, frustration and loneliness. “God has forgotten about me.” “I imagined that crazy vision of my future.” “How is God ever going to use me now? I have nothing to give.”
None of these questions appear in the text, but I know I would have asked them. Because they are questions that I have asked God. (And I’m sure you have asked your versions of them too.)
And this is what I imagine God whispering to Joseph:
“Hang in there Joe. You’re almost there. Trust me. Stay focused. Come near. Hold on. I won’t leave you. This isn’t the end. What you see is just a glimpse. I’m not finished with you yet.”
Over and over I found myself in this story. As I recounted Joseph’s life, I heard the echo of God’s promises to me:
When I feel alone and forgotten, God says, “I am with you. I will never leave you.”
When I feel disappointment or discouragement, God says, “Hang in there. This is just a glimpse; it’s not the end.”
When I am impatient (which is often) and fear that I will miss what God has for me, God says, “Stay focused. Trust me.”
And as I’ve written and pondered over my goals for the New Year I found myself asking: “Are they are too big? Too adventurous? If others really knew what was on this list, would they see me as prideful or over-ambitious?” “Is this really what God wants me to do?“
And what I hear echoing in my heart is the same response I believe Joseph heard when he set out to accomplish the vision God gave him: “This is not the end of the story, it is just a glimpse. I’m not finished with you yet.”
So, as we sign off of 2014 and ring in the New Year I want to encourage you with this thought: Your story isn’t over. Whether you are living it up as the estate manager, or you’re discouraged in a prison. If your family seems distant (or maybe you wonder if at times they want to sell you off), or if you’re wondering whether the crazy vision you have is really God’s plan for your life, remember – God is near. He hasn’t forgotten you. Stay focused. Hold on. Trust Him. This is just a glimpse – it’s not the end of your story. He’s not finished with you yet.
As always, thanks for reading. Happy New Year!