Every performer hates to practice. Practice is humiliating. It is the seemingly endless process of slowly transforming failure into mastery. For every perfectly executed recital there are thousands of hours of scales, arpeggios and tears. For every game-winning home-run, free-throw or field-goal there are hundreds of lonely, exhausting hours in the batting cage, the gym or on the practice field. Few things in life that require greatness come to pass quickly or easily.
Yet we live in a culture of fast-food, quick-service and 1-click consumerism. We do not need to wait for the next episode of our favorite show. We can binge on a whole season of streamed content on demand. Yet real craftsmanship and accomplishment takes time and care. The calling of the Christian life is to be conformed to the image of Christ Jesus. Christians are called ‘God’s workmanship, created for good works.’ But this is an often long and difficult process of conformity. The Bible likens it to a refiner’s fire.
In his youth, God had spoken to Joseph in dreams, revealing a great and glorious purpose for his life. But almost from the moment those dreams were dreamed, Joseph’s life had appeared anything but great or glorious. Nearly murdered by his jealous brothers, trafficked into slavery to foreign enemies, wrongly accused by his master’s wife, imprisoned by her husband, and forgotten by an influential fellow prisoner whose parole and vindication were foretold by Joseph through dream interpretation, Joseph’s life seemed off irredeemably off track. Every move only seemed to be a move downward. He was hardly on a trajectory toward a great and glorious purpose.
Yet God works in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform. Often, He works slowly in our lives in order to then work quickly. The pathway to Joseph’s purpose was through humiliation, injustice and forsakenness. Yet God had not forgotten him. Far from it. God purposed through these frowning providences to mold Joseph into a man ready to serve and lead when the time was right. In a mere moment, in God’s moment, Joseph was transformed from prisoner to prime minister.
The hard truth is that there is no waste in God’s economy. Every loop in Joseph’s downward spiral, every wrong he received for every good he had done was part of God’s plan to make him fit for what was coming. None of Joseph’s suffering was gratuitous or unnecessary. Every experience was just what was needed to make him the man God would use. A. W. Tozer famously wrote “It is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly until He has hurt him deeply” and Robert M. M’Cheyne noted that “it is not great talents God blesses so much as likeness to Jesus. A holy minister is an awful weapon in the hand of God.”
Join us this Lord’s Day, April 29, as we examine the story of Joseph and consider how God works slowly in our lives in order to work quickly and use us powerfully. We meet from 5:00 – 6:30 pm in The Commons at St. Andrews Anglican Church at 8300 Kanis Rd in Little Rock. Click here for directions. Come with a friend you and join us for fellowship and conversation. We look forward to seeing you there.