I just finished reading the book of Genesis. The last 14 chapters are primarily about Joseph and the rest of the sons of Jacob/Israel. The story of Joseph's brothers showing up in his presence and bowing before him and the whole elaborate process Joseph put them through before he let them know who he was is quite a story. Today it brought me to tears as I imagined the brothers being reunited after so much time apart - the emotions and tension heightened by the guilt and fear the brothers carried with them as they were faced with their sin yet again. Grace and mercy extended by the one they had betrayed.
But the thing that leaves me puzzled at the end of the story is that they stayed in Egypt long after the famine was over. And it doesn't really say why (at least not there). Joseph was only 30 when he was dramatically released from jail and put in charge of the whole country. The little told rest of the story about the famine I discovered today is that while the famine progressed and the country ran out of food and money to buy more grain, the people sold more and more of their lives to Pharaoh. First their money. Next their livestock. Finally their land and themselves into slavery. They were alive, but they belonged to Pharaoh.
Apparently because those were Joseph's instructions. Interesting! I still think, though, that Joseph could have purchased back his family and all of their offspring and property and sent them back to Canaan. They all could have gone back to the land God said was to be theirs. So why didn't they?
Perhaps they knew that others had taken over their land and they were afraid to go back. Perhaps it was just too nice and comfy in Egypt with their little brother taking care of them all. All we know is that they stayed in Egypt and over the course of the next 400 years, the story takes a turn for an even bigger drama than what Joseph experienced in his dramatic life. The selling as a slave, rise to favor in Potiphar's household, false accusation, imprisonment, release and rise to power again in Joseph's life is a foreshadow of the dramatic story the whole people of Israel would experience.
So what can I learn from this? God is working on some deep stuff in my heart these days. I have to trust that He is the One who is guiding me through these seasons and that He is Sovereign. The story of Joseph shouts of God's Sovereign power and His plans to use for good what the enemy intended for evil in our lives. I can trust that. I have to trust that!
For a few weeks now I have been pondering Psalm 139 and at the end the psalmist asks God to search and examine his heart, to know his anxious thoughts. The words indicate to me more than an invitation for God to look inside me because God already knows what is there! It's an invitation for God to expose and reveal what is inside and to let me know what is there. As I have prayed, God has been faithful to answer and show me some of the sources of anxiety and fear in my life and I don't like it. The process is hard and at times the way seems dark and intimidating. So I rely on God to walk with me through the process and like the last verse in the Psalm says, I trust and expect God to "lead me in the way everlasting." The process must have been confusing for Joseph and eventually the Israelites over the course of the next 400 years, but God knew what He was doing. He always knows and has a plan and a reason. He is wise and loving and gracious and compassionate and His mercy is new every single morning.
And for that I am so thankful. Lead me on, Lord.