Monday, January 18, 2010

Paying Dues

Then Joseph said to his brothers, "Come close to me." When they had done so, he said, "I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will not be plowing and reaping. But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. – Genesis 45: 4-7

The story of Joseph is one of purpose and paying dues. He starts off at the age of seventeen as a spoiled little rich kid with a fancy robe. He then becomes a slave. As a slave he transforms himself into the head of the household of Potiphar, an important man in Egyptian government. He is second in command of the household behind only Potiphar.

Then suddenly he is low again, this time as a prisoner for a crime that he did not commit. During his years in jail he transforms himself from prisoner to the head of all of the affairs in the prison. At this stage he is only second in command to the warden of the prison.

Then finally Pharaoh has a dream, the cupbearer remembers him, and he is presented to Pharaoh to interpret the dream. After interpreting the dream and suggesting a course of action Pharaoh makes him second in command over the entire country and gives him the task of executing that course of action. He is responsible for getting Egypt and its people through the seven years of famine.
Then finally, two years into the famine, Joseph is thirty-nine years old. He sees his brothers before him, bowing to him, humbly asking for the right to purchase grain. The dream that he saw as an insufferable seventeen year old kid has come true, but not nearly how that kid probably imagined it. The result of his suffering is that his family will survive the famine, so that the promise that God made to great grandfather Abraham would come to pass.

That’s heavy.

There are a couple of interesting things here in this story.

First of all… Joseph paid some serious dues. From the age of seventeen to thirty Joseph racked up constant experience in the business of governing and politics. He successfully navigated is ascension in Potiphar’s house. Then when Potiphar’s wife unexpectedly hollered at Jo he successfully rose to the top of the world he occupied as a convict. He was essentially running the whole place.

Here is this theme again of God turning lemons into lemonade. Slavery and jail… both are quite tart and sour.

The second thing is purpose. All of this experience paid off when the Pharaoh had his dreams. Joseph was prepared to lead when no one else could lead. He had the leadership skills to provide for nutritional security of an empire. And with Egypt healthy, Joseph’s father, brothers, and family were secure.
Maybe right now as you are reading this you are in a dead end job or unemployed or have lost a loved one or in some other life situation that is troubling. Maybe you don’t see a purpose in what is going on in your life.

I don’t claim to know what the purpose of those things are any more than I would claim to know if there was a purpose at all in Potiphar’s wife getting Joseph thrown in jail. I’m sure that had Joseph not been in that predicament God would have found another way for his gift of understanding dreams to get to the ears of the Pharaoh.

And that’s just it. When things happen that seem to be bad, they may in fact be the path to the next blessing for our lives. We just have to do what Joseph did. We need to do the best with what we have every single day and keep reaching, striving and growing.

Then, let God work those fancy miracles that He’s been working since the beginning. We just have to believe that God will in fact turn those lemons to lemonade and use that faith to fuel our work for those times where we can’t see the finish line.

Just because we can’t see the next blessing, doesn’t mean it isn’t there. It may be just around the corner.


  1. excellent brotha. Wish I would've read this before my last comment, you already made my


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A Convo With God by Clarence Mitchell III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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