Genesis 37: Sometimes the Way Up, is Down!

Songdove Books - Eagle's Nest

Songdove Books - bird's nestAh yes, Genesis Chapter 37! Sometimes the way up is down. Sometimes the way through is around, and sometimes the way forward seems to be very much backward! We have come to the story of Joseph. There is a movie out called “The Favourite Son” with the lead character played by the same kid that starred in the “Home Alone” movies. The movie is about a malicious kid who goes about his cunningly dastardly antics in a manner that initially leaves everyone believing he is innocent. A very dark movie for a young actor who had played very sarcastically sadistic roles in the earlier movies. If such a movie were to be made about Joseph, instead of Joseph being the dark and dastardly character, it would be his brothers.

Joseph is the sibling everyone loves to hate. He’s his Father’s favourite son. He get’s the special treatment. He even gets a special coat made for him by his own father. On top of that, he’s a bit of a squealer, tattling on his brothers’ misdemeanors on a regular basis. Then, as if that wasn’t enough, he has these crazy self-centred dreams! I’m sure by the time these dreams came around, everyone thought that his favoured status had gone to his head and now he was dreaming of lording it over everyone.

Hindsight is always 20/20 vision, and the avid reader of God’s Word will know that over the next few chapters, the two dreams Joseph had were actually given to him by God. God was telling him via dreams, what would happen in his family and in one dream, how it would come to be. But here is where the upside down nature of God’s ways comes into play. There were some life lessons Joseph needed to learn, and the only way to take him from the status of favourite son to second-in-command of an entire nation was to take him through some very dark valleys. Truly, the way up in this scenario was most decidedly down! Down into a pit. Down into slavery. Down into Egypt.

Trusting God in situations where we seem to be going backwards instead of forwards, down instead of up, and taking the long way around instead of going straight ahead, is a hard thing to do. But trust we must. Just like Joseph, God may show us a dream, a vision of what life will be like in the future and it looks amazing! However, just like Joseph, the way there may be filled with pits, detours, and prisons. The trick is not to forget God’s promise in the midst of those trials. Without those trials we would not learn the lessons required, nor experience the shaping of character required to fulfill the dream that was given.

This is another example of what we call “Death of a Vision”. As human beings, when we see a dream, we are taught to create a list of goals to realize that dream. We are taught to take those goals and break them down into manageable steps so that we can measure our progress toward those goals and toward that eventual dream. None of those goals and none of those steps are designed to go in reverse of our dream. But there are times when God’s plans seem to take us there. I’ve been seeing a saying on Facebook lately, “Don’t doubt in the dark what God had shown you in the light”. I’m not sure who to attribute that saying to, but it’s true.

Songdove Books - Eagle's NestAnother visual that also rings true to this story and to life lived in the Spirit, is that of the eagle’s nest. When the young ones get old enough to learn how to fly, the parents begin to defeather the nest. Eventually the next becomes a very uncomfortable place to be and the young eaglet hops to the rim of the nest. They didn’t want to leave, and if the parents never defeathered the nest, the young ones would never leave. But the parents know that the young ones need to learn how to fly. They were made to fly. So they literally push the little ones out of the nest. At first, the young ones freak out and begin flapping their wings frantically. Mom catches them on her back, flies up to a height and then drops them again. Slowly but surely the young eaglets learn how to fly and don’t need the nest anymore.

In the same way, God had to defeather Joseph’s nest. He’d been the favourite son for a long time and now at the age of 17, it was time for him to begin his flying lessons. The brothers began to grumble against him, the dreams made them bitter toward him. The jacket was just too much for them and finally they conspired to get rid of him. Little did anyone know that their so-called conspiring would play right into God’s plans for the young man! It must really make the enemy cringe at times knowing that his attempted plans to derail God’s people tend to get used more often than not, to further God’s plans in their lives! The family nest had been defeathered and Joseph was now on his way to his destiny.

Songdove Books - Eagle and young oneSometimes God has to defeather our nests before we will get up and move out. There have been times when I felt that in my own life. A job was getting more and more difficult, or a family situation was getting harder and harder to deal with. It was time to get up and move out, but I would not have even considered such a thought if the prickles weren’t suddenly coming up through the comfy situation I was in. Other times, God doesn’t settle for merely defeathering the nest, He outright dumps us out of the boat and pulls it away from our desparately-reaching grasp! Growing up by the ocean, I know how important it is to stay near the boat and learn how to right it again in the water to be able to climb back in. There are tricks to doing this with a canoe that can save your life. But I have been dumped out of that boat more times than I can count and not allowed back in.

Either way, whether by slowly making life circumstances more prickly until we move, or by outright dumping us out of our boat of comfort or complacency, God will get His people moving on toward the destination He has planned for them. God has not forgotten the vision that was cast. God hasn’t forgotten the dream that was given. God is actually using what seem to be upside down circumstances to get us moving and to train us along the journey toward the realization of that dream.

So if you seem to be going backwards instead of forward, down instead of up, around instead of through, and you are constantly seeking God and doing everything you know is right, then rest. Rest. God has it all under control. Ask Him to show you what you should be learning during this time and treat this time as a means of education for what is ahead. Joseph never forgot the two dreams God gave him, as we will see in coming chapters. Don’t you lose sight either of what God has shown you. It took many years before those two dreams would come to pass, but when they did, Joseph was ready to slip into the role God showed him as a mere 17yr old. Don’t lose heart. Sometimes the way up, is down!

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