Training Ground

Posted by: in Editorials on November 1st

Have you ever found yourself in a pit? In a place where your pain progressively mounts into what the Bible accurately acknowledges as “great distress”? Perhaps you feel as though your efforts are being continually swept away or even discarded like unwanted remnants. Maybe you’ve grown accustomed to the situation that you find yourself in – unwilling to make the next move for fear of rejection.

There is something to be said about those who allow themselves to be subject to a process. For athletes this equates to years of intensive training, often forcing them to no longer rely on their natural abilities, but to instead develop their character, determination, and gritty tenacity. For actors, the process often looks like hundreds if not thousands of auditions followed by stark, cold rejection. For those who are endeavoring to follow Christ, it looks a lot like the life of Joseph.

Joseph’s life is constantly compared to the life and journey of Christ on earth. Both were betrayed by those closest to them. Both were subjected to unjust treatment and cruel punishments for which they did not deserve. Both demonstrated acts of forgiveness towards those who wrongfully accused them. It is evident to me as I study the life of Joseph that his life parallels and perhaps even foreshadows the ministry of Jesus Christ on a much smaller scale. I find that what Joseph believed were great sources of pain, were actually the very hand of God leading him to a higher purpose that could only unfold following the completion of a very specific, life-altering process.  You see, Joseph needed both the pit and the prison to assume his God-ordained purpose in the palace.

We find that Joseph has three distinct components of his life. His story begins as he relays his self-centered, self-serving dream to an audience of jealous brothers. That initial dream brought him to the bottom of a pit, causing him to be sold into slavery.

The process that Joseph was subjected to led him to a state of true humility. In this state, he began to serve the dreams of others. He served the vision of Potiphar. He was loyal to this authority figure both publicly and privately. We even find that when the perfect opportunity arises to betray the man he served he flees the scene, choosing instead to embrace integrity and honor. What we discover at this point in the story often leaves me particularly disenchanted. We find that the law of sowing and reaping seems to have been desecrated. We find that Joseph was not immediately restored following his admirable decision to choose integrity. Instead, Joseph was discarded into prison for another lengthy period of time. Justice was not served. The timing of this process was not in any way ideal or enviable.

Joseph once again chose to rise to the challenge and serve the dreams of those he encountered in while in prison. Joseph once the dreamer, became instead the dream interpreter. I would venture to say that Joseph probably believed this was not nearly as glorious or valuable as his God-given gift. Yet, it was his assigned purpose, not his gift that granted him entrance into the palace. Perhaps Joseph’s purpose was not to dream great dreams but to humble himself to a posture of continual servitude.

In the last stage of Joseph’s life, we find that because of his steadfastness and obedience towards his assignment he was promoted to the palace. However, he was not promoted based solely on merit but instead based on his ability to once again serve someone else’s God-given dream. Joseph interpreted the dream of Pharaoh not to serve his own desires but as God intended. He then served the dream to his greatest capacity, saving the entire nation.

Finally, we find that God does, in fact, fulfill his first dream but not in the way that Joseph initially envisioned. Joseph’s Initial dream brought his brothers to their knees – bowing before him in honor. In the initial dream, Joseph was exalted. Yet, we see that when his dream finally comes to fruition God is the one exalted through Joseph’s willingness to serve the dreams and needs of others.  Joseph saved an entire nation of people due to his willingness to adopt the mentality of “I am second”.

This is God’s truth – what you perceive to be a pit, prison or impossible situation is instead a training ground for the palace. Not a palatial state allowing you to indulge in self servitude, but instead a refuge for those who are weary, lost and broken.

Keep the faith. Allow yourself to be subjected to a greater process. You’re in training.

 

Nicole Soto works as a marketer for the Sponsorship Division of a nonprofit company in Detroit, Michigan. Beyond her day job she is a passionate writer and published author, releasing her first book, Worth It in 2017. Nicole and her husband Blake serve as youth pastors and music directors at their local church. In her free time, you can find her cooking for friends and family, discovering ways to reinvent classic recipes and documenting her travels abroad. 

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