Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Original Dreaming Joseph: Jealousy and Time Doesn't Mean They Can Stop You

Since my last post was about a dreaming Joseph (as in, Mary and Joseph), I thought I'd go back to the original dreaming Joseph today. This Joseph was the son of Jacob. In addition to having some dreams that suggested he would be a leader, Joseph had a lot of brothers. 

Joseph's dreams appear to be literal - things he saw and experienced while he was sleeping - but, in my interpretation, they were also figurative dreams - he was excited at the future they hinted for him.

I chuckled to myself as I read Genesis 37, where Joseph tells his brothers about his dreams. Really, Joey? How did you expect your brothers to react to the news that you're dreaming about them bowing down to you? Whatever Joseph expected, his brothers got jealous, and they got revenge; they sold Joseph to some slave traders. Cool. Real cool, guys. What of Joseph's dreams now?

At this point, there's a break in Joseph's story. Suddenly, the text skips to Judah's family life. Children are born. Two generations of them. BUT WHAT ABOUT JOSEPH??? Did the brothers win? Did his dreams die?

Turns out, they did not. According to a sidebar in my Bible, Joseph was sold into slavery at age 17. Then, he worked for the captain of the guard for Pharaoh, then got put in prison, then, at the age of 30, started working for Pharaoh himself. He was a respected leader when he was finally reunited with his brothers at age 39. There were more than twenty years between his dreams of greatness and the actual fulfillment of those dreams!

In my own life, dealing with others' reactions to my dreams can be a little hard. If you've ever lost weight and had people start making comments about how all you eat is rabbit food or how they think skinny people are stupid (seriously, someone said that), you know how people can be. The greater the dream, the stronger people's reactions. But Joseph's story tells us we don't need to be afraid of others. We can celebrate and believe in our God-given dreams.

The other thing I struggle with is time. I've been trying to get published for over ten years. I really thought it would've happened by now. I have victories like Joseph did and setbacks, though none as severe as his. For example, I was blessed to work with a literary agent for over a year (HUGE celebration for me, and she was a huge help to my career), but the book didn't sell. I made the choice to work on the project I felt called to work on, even though it means I may have to start over in my search for an agent when it's done. Losing the security of a promise of representation in the publishing world was a big blow to me. But, just in the last week, the story I chose to work on made it to the semi-final round of a national contest. Yay! Maybe this writing thing will work out, after all!

Wait. Did I just say "maybe"? Of course it will work out! I don't know how, and I don't know when, but I serve the God of Joseph, the God who gives dreams, the God who sees them through, the God who works over decades and generations to bring about his purposes. Who do you serve?

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