Tuesday, May 24, 2011

"The Past is the Future With the Lights Turned On"

I want to you to imagine something with me for a moment. Just close your eyes and think. (Well, I suppose you don’t have to close your eyes, because then you wouldn’t be able to read this post.)

Imagine that one of your siblings asked if they could talk with you. For argument’s sake, you say “sure.” Then, said sibling proceeds to tell you, quite seriously, that he believes that, thinks he is required to, and plans on, saving the planet from an alien attack. 

Is it a younger sibling? Perhaps you would pat them on the head and say, “Of course you will.” Is it an older sibling? Your response might be more like: “The funny farm is just two towns over…”

But seriously. What if it happened for real? What if your sibling really was telling the truth, and you believed them? Let’s look at two extremes. You could excommunicate him. Team up against him with your other siblings and throw him out of the house. Or, you could commit yourself to his cause, ask what you can do to help, and tell others about it. Sounds more like a movie than real life. But things like this have happened.

Take Joseph for example. When he was young, he probably didn’t know that he was eventually going to save a myriad of people from the imminent famine of Egypt. He did, however, have several dreams which made him think that one day he would be a great ruler. 

He told his siblings. Not only were they upset, but they kidnapped him, threw him in a pit, told their father he was dead, and sold him into slavery. What supportive siblings!

What about Jesus of Nazareth? From the Bible, we can get the idea that his family supported his endeavors. Mary and Joseph aside, just think about Jesus’ siblings for a moment. The first one that comes to my mind is James, who was obviously only Jesus’ half-brother. The book of James, which [most believe that] Jesus’ half brother James wrote, begins with the words “James, a servant of God, and of the Lord Jesus Christ.” He is a servant of his own sibling? What a testimony! 

Jesus was presumably the oldest, so James grew up watching his older brother did. He had quite the example to follow. Did Jesus ever steal a cookie out of the cookie jar? Nope. Did He ever act disrespectfully towards Mary? Nope. Did He ever refuse to go to bed when he was supposed to? Of course not. If anyone would know that Jesus was perfect, it would be his very own sibling, who obviously decided to support His cause.

Joseph was sold into slavery, but eventually miraculously climbed the ladder and wound up as Pharaoh’s right hand man. By interpreting a dream, he saved countless people from starving in the coming seven year famine. He eventually forgave those who had persecuted him (his brothers) and was reunited with his father.

Jesus eventually died to forgive the sins of the whole world. Those who accept Him can avoid the imminent seven years of tribulation and instead be raptured into Heaven to spend eternity with God. As Jesus died, he cried out, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do!” He forgave those who had murdered him. He was buried and rose from the dead three days later. He ascended into Heaven forty days after that and returned to his rightful place at the right hand of the King. He, too, was reunited with his Father.

Some people think of Joseph as the “Jesus of the Old Testament.” We can view it that way, but when I was thinking about it the other day, I thought of an entirely different lesson we can learn from it. About people.

Joseph’s father loved him, but his siblings hated him and betrayed him. Jesus’ earthly family loved Him, but his own people, the Israelites, rejected him. He was also betrayed by his “friend” Judas. Joseph and Jesus both had real friends and psuedo friends. But somehow, God’s plan still worked. It must have seemed horrible to the disciples when the heard of what Judas had done. It seemed to be his fault Jesus was killed! Perhaps God had a different way in mind for it to happen if Judas had not betrayed Jesus, but he did. And God’s plan still occurred. 

Joseph must have been horrified when his brothers turned on him. It must have seemed like the worst thing in the world. But when he became such a huge part of God’s plan and saved the lives of millions, I’m sure he wouldn’t change a moment of his past. Could God have accomplished this in another way? Sure He could have. He can do whatever He wants. But God works in myterious ways.

What is my point? My point is this: Family may not always be supportive. Friends may turn on you. God may seem to be far away. But there is always a light at the end of the tunnel—“Though the sorrow may last for the night, joy comes with the morning.” God’s plan will not be pushed aside. No matter what people say, just keep doing what is right.

A friend once said to me that “The past is just the future with the lights turned on.” And how true this is! Why can’t we see the future? Why doesn’t God ever just TELL us what He is doing? I think it is because he wants us to have faith in Him. If we could all just see the future, what kind of faith would that be? Faith is believing without seeing.

God is at work. No matter where you are in life, do not give up on God. He will never give up on you.

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