Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“God is faithful, reliable, trustworthy, and therefore ever true to His promise, and He can be depended on; by Him you were called into companionship and participation with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”
I Corinthians 1:9
“Whatever life may bring to you,
‘God’ will ring true to you:
Star in your sky –
Food in your store –
Staff in your hand –
Friend by your side –
Light on your path –
Joy in your heart –
In your ears music –
In your mouth songs.
Yes, rapid as your race may run,
And scorching as may shine your sun,
And bitter as may blow your blast,
And lonely as your lot be cast –
Whatever life may bring to you,
‘God’ will (always) ring true to you.”
Today’s Study Text:
“Then there passed by Midianites merchantmen; and they drew and lifted up Joseph out of the pit, and sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver: and they brought Joseph to Egypt.”
The God of Dothan – Part 12
“The Long Road to Egypt”
“Live near to God, and so all things will appear to you little in comparison with eternal realities.”
Robert Murray M’Cheyne
How would I have felt had I been in Joseph’s place walking the long road to Egypt?
What long, lonely journey have I made in my life that has challenged my heart and tired my body?
“If something apart from ourselves is seeking to make itself known to us, it will not succeed unless we know how to wait, to persist in waiting.
Douglas V. Steere
“We must wait for God, long, meekly, in the wind and wet, in the thunder and lightening, in the cold and the dark. Wait, and He will come. He never comes to those who do not wait.”
Frederick William Faber
If the quote above appears familiar to you, it is because I have shared these words with quite a number of my Garden friends who have written to me, asking for encouragement during a particularly dark time in their lives. This, I might add, happens to make my list of “Top Ten Quotes To Live By.” The reason is that I don’t think there’s a one of us that hasn’t at one time or another, felt like we were limping along, shackled by problems, on our way to Egypt. Whatever our destination, we know one thing for certain, the journey we are on, after leaving Dothan, isn’t a pleasant or comfortable one. It’s dirty, desolate and depressing.
As I have considered Joseph’s situation, walking a long and lonely road, it got me to wondering what he might have been thinking. I ask this question in light of several experiences which occurred in Joseph’s early life which are recorded in Genesis 37.
First, we need to remember that this was a young boy whose mother had died giving birth to Joseph’s younger brother, Benjamin. We know that Jacob’s love for Rachel was what some people choose to call a “soul-mate” love. We can only begin to imagine how the suffering of Rachel’s sudden death must have affected the entire family. As Joseph plodded along the road to Egypt, he couldn’t have helped but think about the abrupt loss of his dear mother. Now, without warning, for all he knew, he had lost not only his father but his little brother, too. And every footstep he took, only increased the gap between his heart and his home. At first, I have to believe that Joseph may have thought that somehow and someway his father would find him. A search party would stop the caravan. Something would be done! And right along with this hope, had to be the belief that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, his families’ God, would not have shared those dreams with him if Egypt was to be his permanent dwelling place. I can just hear Joseph saying to himself, “Why, oh why, would God send a dream that showed my family bowing down in front of me? What did God mean by those dreams when my family hates me?” The pit in Dothan and the long trek to Egypt had to have made Joseph think that maybe the dreams he had were just some wild fantasies.
It might be that you can relate to Joseph as you trudge on, day-by-day, holding a dream in your heart, too! And because it has taken so very long for you to see what you’ve longed for come true, you may think your hopes are nothing but “castles in the air.” I can understand your plight. For over 30 years, I’ve carried a dream in my heart, too, and during the past 3 years, when I’ve thought that I had everything so perfectly worked out to get me where I longed to be, I’ve found that God has had other plans. And the toughest challenge of all, has been dealing with God’s timing, for waiting for what we want is not an easy thing to do. What’s more, in Joseph’s case, God had even showed him a vision of his future and then it appeared that God’s plan was derailed by a group of nasty kinfolk, an empty pit and a caravan of slave traders. That to my way of thinking isn’t just the derailing of a plan, it’s the destruction of it. But somewhere on that road to Egypt, the young teenager went from being the son of Jacob to a man of God. Like Elisha, he looked past the Ishmaelite caravan and saw the chariots and horses of fire surrounding him. If he had to wait, so be it! He would wait for God’s time and God’s way. But until that day arrived, Joseph purposed to be God’s man, no matter what!
I have to tell you, I’m so thankful that God chose to fill His Word – the Bible – with the experiences of real people with real problems. The Bible isn’t a book filled with fictional romances and space fantasies. Instead, it is a spiritual guidebook that if studied prayerfully, helps you and me living in the 21st century, navigate the long journeys and rocky paths that we will inevitably confront.
As I thought about Joseph’s difficult trip from Dothan to Egypt, I began to let my mind go back to those times in my own life when I was left waiting – thinking God would never get around to helping me as I plowed my way through life. When
I review those times, like a huge detour on Interstate 10, when I felt that my life plans had been destroyed, without question, looking back I can see that at every bump along the way, God was teaching me that His waiting times, those places in our expedition when we feel things have gone so off track that we’ll never see the fulfillment of the dreams we have, are only a training ground for what God has planned in our lives. And more frequently than not, God’s dreams for us are so much better than our own.
This brings me to a list of things I’ve learned while I am waiting. Let me be clear, “Dorothy’s List” is not some eloquent, theologically researched group of ideas. It’s rather simple. But this means it is easy enough for me to understand. Especially on those days when I am not feeling “up to par!” And if the ideas on my list have helped me, I pray they will help you, too, as you wait for God to fulfill the dreams in your life:
While I’m Waiting
1. Snuggle Don’t Struggle. I love snuggling. So does our little, lovable dog "Baby Ethel." What I miss most since her passing this past year is that every night when I would climb into bed, Baby Ethel burrow down under the covers and stretch her little dachshund body right up against my legs -- as close as she possibly get. She loved being what we called "a little hot dog." And if there was a lightning or thunder storm outside, she wasn't bothered one bit. She never barked. She wasn't afraid at all. Why? Because Dad and Mom were right there with her snuglled down under the covers. Now please, don’t think I’m being disrespectful to our Father in heaven. However, someone who tells me that He carries me in the palm of His hand; someone who holds my tears in His bottle; someone who says that like a mother hen He covers me with His feathers – that person is a “snuggler.” And so I’ve found that when trouble strikes and I find myself lost in a waiting time, wondering what will happen next, the first thing I do is go to my Father and snuggle in under His protective care. The psalmist David understood God was up-close-and-personal when he wrote, “Keep me as the pupil of Your eye; hide me in the shadow of Your wings” (Psalm 17: 8). This is what “snuggling” is all about.
2. Hands Off! This is a tough one for me for, as I’ve shared with you in the past, it is so easy for us to think we can work things out ourselves. During extended intervals of time, when God doesn’t seem to be doing anything, it is very difficult not to get in there and try to help Him along. Pastor Dave Wilkerson noted that, “God has a timing all His own.” And quite frankly, God’s timing and mine don’t mesh too well at times. When I was in 6th grade, our teacher, Mr. Bullock, a very dear man, had a rough time controlling a rowdy group of over 30 students in a class of 5th and 6th graders. He came up with what I look back on as a brilliant idea. Outside our classroom was a plot of unused, fenced land. Mr. Bullock got permission to have his students plant a garden in this vacant space. During our recess time, we were one effective farm crew, digging weeds, flattening the soil and finally planting seeds. Before long, we had rows of radishes, carrots, squash, and even pumpkin plants peaking their heads through the earth. As the plants got larger though, our little hands wanted to help them grow ever faster, so we would pull on the plants a little.
Well, I don’t have to tell you, we pulled a few of those radishes right out of the ground, long before they had developed into full-size salad food. When Mr. Bullock happened to catch us at our little tricks, he said I want a sign put up here that is a warning to people to keep away from the plants. Since I was the “writer” of the group even back then, I printed out a sign with this warning: “Keep Your Dirty Mud-Hooks Off – Or Else!” Now, I don’t’ know what the “or else” meant, an idle threat from a 10 year old. But the warning got the job done. Frankly, with the meddling I’ve done in my own life, trying to help God out when He’s not working at the speed I want Him too, I sometimes wonder why He hasn’t lowered a sign down from heaven with His own message: “Dorothy, Hands-Off!” Thankfully, as hard as it is, I’m learning, slowly but surely, that God is a “pro” at handling my world and I do so much better when I leave “Dorothy’s world” in His hands and not my own.
3. Study and Pray: When you and I have periods of time in our lives that great sorrow or unexpected affliction enters our lives, it is then when the study of God’s word and prayer doesn’t just become a nice thing to do – it is essential. Jesus’ own words teach us so much in respect to how we should handle our times of extreme crisis. In Luke 22: 40, the disciple, Luke, shares the story of Jesus’ walk into the Garden of Gethsemane. As He entered the garden, before He separated Himself from Peter, James and John, He gave them these words of instruction, “Pray, that ye enter not into temptation.” During the times when we are thrown into a bitter life experience, as the disciples were on that dreadful night, Jesus left behind for us a heavenly formula for surviving the long painful treks in our own lives – feast on the word and seek God in prayer.
4. Hands That Help: Whenever I’ve been in hard times, I’ve found that seeking out the friendship of those who are encouragers has blessed me more than words can say. It was over five years ago that my precious friend Myrt Grimm came all the way from Finland via the internet to Transformation Garden. One day after several email exchanges I wrote Myrt and asked her if she would pray for me. This is something I had never done before. But I felt, for some unknown reason at the time, that Myrt would understand. Within a few hours, I received a message back: “I was sent to Transformation Garden to pray for you. I am your Aaron and Hur. God sent me to hold you up in prayer.” I can’t begin to explain what it means to me to know that someone as touched by heaven as Myrt is in her ministry in Finland, took time out of her busy, busy schedule to say, “I will pray for you.” As someone noted, “It’s impossible not to love someone when you are praying for them.” When we embrace those around us who are struggling, as we are told to do in the book of Hebrews: “Encourage one another, and all the more as you see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10: 25, N.R.S.V.), we will find a hopefulness and love grow in our hearts that will help us as we walk together.
The trip to Egypt may be long. But in the end, the waiting will be worth it!
“O God for whom we long as a woman in labour longs for her delivery; give us courage to wait, strength to push, and discernment to know the right time, that we may bring into the world Your joyful peace through Jesus Christ.” Amen!
Under His Wings
“Under His wings I am safely abiding
Though the night deepens and tempests are wild,
Still I can trust Him; I know He will keep me,
He has redeemed me, and I am His child.
Under His wings, what a refuge in sorrow!
How the heart yearningly turns to His rest!
Often when earth has no balm for my healing,
There I find comfort, and there I am blessed.
Under His wings, oh, what precious enjoyment
There will I hide till life’s trials are over;
Sheltered, protected, no evil can harm me,
Resting in Jesus, I’m safe evermore.
Under His wings, Under His wings,
Who from His love can sever?
Under His wings my soul shall abide,
Safely abide forever.”
William O. Cushing
“Be merciful and gracious to me, O God, be merciful and gracious to me, for my soul takes refuge and finds shelter and confidence in You; yes, in the shadow of Your wings will I take refuge and be confident until calamities and destructive storms are passed.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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