If you attend a church that follows the first track (Track 1) of the Sunday lectionary, you have been hearing from Genesis the story of Joseph and his brothers. For several weeks his story was broken into sections and closely aligned with the all the parables of the gospel readings from Matthew. The threads of the Old Testament readings that wove into Jesus’ parables were many, but two stood out. Trust and patience. Trust God’s plan – he has one – and abide in that trust and it will come to pass. In God’s time. Which in Joseph’s case was decades.
The psalm today tells this story so beautifully. Salvation history in a nutshell.
16 Then he called for a famine in the land *
and destroyed the supply of bread.
17 He sent a man before them, *
Joseph, who was sold as a slave.
18 They bruised his feet in fetters; *
his neck they put in an iron collar.
19 Until his prediction came to pass, *
the word of the Lord tested him.
20 The king sent and released him; *
the ruler of the peoples set him free.
21 He set him as a master over his household, *
as a ruler over all his possessions,
22 To instruct his princes according to his will *
and to teach his elders wisdom.
All the ups and downs of young Josephs’ life, the family dysfunction of brothers who would toss him aside out of jealously, the rescuing of him by Ishmaelites who export him to a foreign land, the opportunity provided while enslaved to use his Holy Spirit inspired insight to find favor with the leaders and people of Egypt to lead, later offering forgiveness to his brothers, saving the family from starvation, to ultimately ‘instruct his princes according to God’s will, teaching them wisdom.’ All this reported in these few verses of Psalm 105 to record this particular season of salvation history – of God’s story. Thy will be done.
Perhaps because we are coming into the fall football season, I was put to thinking of Joseph’s story as a quarter in football game. The psalm read as a Post Game report. Always so much easier to see a game and its outcome in hindsight, don’t you think? Oh, that’s what God was up to in that season! All those first downs, those incomplete passes, interceptions, time outs – that was all part of the game plan, Joseph, to get you to Egypt! Because it is in Egypt where my next quarterback, Moses, will rise. Let the next quarter begin.
Whenever I encounter summaries of salvation history – Post Game Reports (most often in located in the Psalter) I think how nice it would be to have such a perspective of my own life – the hindsight perspective – wherein I could see the ups and downs as part of a grander plan, wherein I could see God’s hand trying to move me here, but me pushing it away to move there. Thy will be done as it is being done, lived – or not. Like Lucy here, inviting Charlie Brown to play, but intending otherwise. Augh – such a selfish one, Lucy. How Charlie Brown continues to trust her, is patient with her. I’ll bet Charlie Brown wished he could see read the Post Game report just once before he agreed to play again with Lucy.
I don’t want to belabor the whole football game metaphor. Point is, the Holy Spirit pauses me often at these history lessons to think about how my story would or is being written. My story as a player on God’s team, a follower of Jesus Christ. My story but God’s glory. How I long to know that the moves I have made so far are really and truly part of God’s plan for me and those with whom I am playing in this season of salvation history.
I appreciate the prompt from the psalm to think on these things, once again. As much as I desire a Post Game Report of my life the past years and going forward as the psalmist does with Joseph’s story, a report that makes really, really clear what God had in mind for me this in this quarter, this season of God’s big game, I appreciate the peek at the game plan that God’s Word affords me.
God’s Word is the Post Game Report, the uber post game analysis.
By the power of the Holy Spirit I am paused to sift my life as a follower of Jesus Christ past, present and future, through the sieve of God’s Word. Have I made any plays like Lucy? Served myself, gone against game plan? Or am I like Charlie Brown? AUGH! Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Trust and Patience? Am I abiding? Discerning?
Today the pause has me trusting that though I have wandered, I am not lost. I was served a glimpse of the play book and I see that I am still in the game. Maybe on the bench for a play or two. But I’m all suited up patiently waiting for the call to go there, stay here, pass, kneel, hold the ball, defend. Well, you get the point. Just happy to be on the team.
Praise God from whom all blessings – pauses – flow.