Not What I Expected
Fascination. It’s how I describe my view of the account of Joseph’s life found in Genesis. He has a dream, two in fact. Both were about his life. They were grand dreams and he shared them with his family. Before they could become reality though, his brothers plotted against him. They sold him into slavery. There he was falsely accused and ended up in jail. His father thought he was dead and his brothers thought his dream was dead. He was in a foreign land and in jail he was forgotten.
Joseph’s attitude and actions have been the point that fascinated me. Without fail, he handled everything thrown at him with what appeared as unyielding devotion. He was the favorite son, the favorite slave, and the favorite prisoner. However, it appeared he couldn’t have been any further away from his dream. Assuming you know the whole story and how it ends, you may have wondered with me how or why he kept going.
For instance, how is it that in slavery and faced with the temptation of his master’s wife did he respond to her with the words, “How could I do this thing and sin against God?” It’s not that he turned down the advances of this women that intrigue me. Fear of his master could have caused him to do that, rather than the fear of God. The wording of his response interests me. In not wanting to ‘sin against God,’ he didn’t want to sin against the dream. He was clearly directed Godward. He served God, the Author of the dream. Somehow it would seem that Joseph knew that greatness (which was what his dream was about) came from serving, not being served.
Throughout this remarkable lesson is the picture of a man who never questioned the outcome of his dream. How do we know? His service to the Author of the dream and his service to those around him. Regardless of his circumstances or where he was, he lived the dream. He believed the dream. You have heard faith without works is dead? True faith produces action. Perhaps Joseph wasn’t seeing the circumstances of the dream played out yet, but that didn’t stop him from being the man God showed him in the dream. My point is that by the time Joseph ascended in power in Egypt, he didn’t have to play catch up. He didn’t have to try to become the man in the dream now that he could see the circumstances of the dream.
No where in this grand recount of history do we see Joseph falling into confusion due to his circumstances. His response is void of statements like: “How could this happen?” “Does this look like greatness?” “Where is any of this getting me?” “If my dreams were real, why am I here?” Rather, we see a man who kept his eye on the Author of his life and the One wanting to write His grand story through Joseph.
Validating the Right Thing
If only I could tell you that I had the same perspective in my past. Oh, that I could tell you I hadn’t been tripped up by circumstances and where I ended up. It would be great if I could tell you that I kept diligently working to be the man in the dream, even when I didn’t see the circumstances of the dream. That however, would not be the case. Words that better described my perspective would be bewildered, perplexed, and confused. All those words mean close to the same thing. They lead a person to be unclear about direction, mentally disturbed, lacking distinction, and generally living an anxious life. In a state of confusion, lines of right and wrong can become blurred. It’s these things and more that lead me to believe that Joseph was never confused about the dreams God had given him.
It’s in this frame of mind that I remember crying out to God something like this, “Father, I’m confused. I just don’t understand. I don’t understand what has happened to me.” This had been going on for some time. You see, I too had a dream and I felt a million miles away from anything that looked remotely close to it. I hadn’t quit, but I wanted to. There was just no seeing how to get anywhere near what I saw in my dream. Plus, I feared losing the man I saw in that dream and hopelessness was keeping growth from happening.
In the inward chaos came Father’s response, “Son, what you call confusion, I call unbelief.” The words came with peace, relief, and a return to clarity. I had believed what I was seeing, and it was changing me. Rather than validating me in my mess, He will always validate His Word in our mess. In other words, God isn’t looking at us from our low place. He always looks from Heaven to earth and invites us to do the same. God isn’t threatened by our situations. We are invited to look at the world through His Word, but too often we are looking at the Word through the world and get tripped up. Believing the Word will change your world. The question is what are we validating in our circumstances?
What we believe will lead us to change. What change is your life leading you into? Realize it or not, your beliefs or unbelief are leading your life and change is inevitable for good or bad. What’s leading you, faith or sight?
Pilate famously asked, “What is truth?” He was confused about the events he found himself in. He didn’t want to be there and hadn’t asked for Jesus to be brought to him. Jesus was forced upon him and a decision was demanded. Pilate in his confusion, upheaval, and uncertainty looked at Truth Himself and in unbelief directed his question to I AM.
Confusion causes us to retreat in ambiguity. Vision, dreams, or promises from the Living Word give us straight paths through the most tumultuous circumstances. That is, if we believe. We can’t always control the circumstances of our life, but we can control our life in the circumstances. Psalm 32:8 reminds us that “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you.” Our way can become discombobulated on our own, but the Promiser and Author of our faith “is not a God of confusion but of peace (1 Corinthians 14:33).” “Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). In Malachi, He says, “I the Lord do not change.” What is confusing about that?
Furthermore, over and over the Psalmist asks the Lord to give him understanding that I may know your testimonies. Confusion is a cover up for unbelief. It’s misplaced trust. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths (Proverbs 3:5-6).” Let’s be careful. Trying to understand what we see can confuse us. Just like the disciples trying to understand the cross. They tripped over what they saw rather than leaning on the word of Jesus, even though He had told them what would happen.
Confusion defined can begin to tell us where we begin to lose our way. The root word fund or fus in Latin means “to pour.” Confusion exists when too many things are poured together so that they become uncertain and unclear. A profusion is a great quantity that seems to have been poured forth from a plentiful supply. The point I want to show from this is that when we mingle two or more things in our life we can end up with a con. Mixture is at best difunctionally diluted and at worst a dangerous delusion. The Greek word used in the Bible defines confusion as to comingle promiscuously, i.e. to throw into disorder, to perplex (the mind).
“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed…” (2 Corinthians 4:7-9)
What are we putting into our vessels? Watch how this works. Mix envy with strife and James 3:16 says you will find confusion and every evil work. Unbelief is usually not blatant. More often it’s a mixture of walking by faith with walking by sight causing confusion to set in when the circumstances don’t look like the dream. The double minded are unstable in all their ways.
The opposite of confusion is profusion, which is an abundance of a single supply. Profusion in medical terms is the body delivering well oxygenated blood to the tissues and organs. Altered mental status is one symptom of poor profusion. Profusion happens through the normal operation of breathing. As we breath or let oxygen pour in, we then breath or pour out carbon dioxide. Our bodies aren’t meant to work on mixtures. Adding carbon monoxide is poisonous to our body. “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17) We aren’t designed to live double-minded. We have been saved and set apart for God. As God breathes His word, we should breath it in. Other sources can be poisonous to our faith.
We cannot, anymore than Joseph, avoid the circumstances of our life. We can determine what gets to whisper in our ear and what we will believe. The devil is a liar and he will pour fear into our lives if we listen. However, there is an abundant supply of truth from which to drink. God promised. Why should circumstances get to call God a liar? Why shouldn’t God and His promises be calling our circumstances a liar? After all, we may not be able to see how He will bring the dream to pass, but we can trust Him to prepare us and lead us to what He already sees.
Perhaps you, like me, have allowed the mingling of too many voices to confuse you in life. Today, Jesus is the Fountain of Living Water. An abundance from that single Source has the power to flush our life of unbelief. He is the Author of the dreams we have had for our life. He is the Inspiration for every prophetic word. Today, drink from one well. We are not a victim to our circumstances unless we allow it. Nothing we find ourselves in has the power to keep us from being the person of our God given dreams. Trust God to get you where He promised. Until then prepare yourself in relationship with the Author knowing that God knows the end of the story He wants to write.
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:8-9)