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Do you ever worry about where you are in God’s story, thinking that where you are is as good as it is going to get? Perhaps you need to remind yourself that the beginning of your story that He is writing in your life is not the whole story or the end of what He’s doing (Philippians 4:6).
It is the end of the story that completes the beginning of the story. It is also the final scene that brings clarity to the beginning of your journey. Can you “trust and rest” in the reality that God is still working on your complete story?
The beginning of the human story (Genesis 1:1) was a pleasing and perfect story of a man (Adam). And God and that man reciprocally enjoyed each other. Then sin entered into the world, and things began to break down by the spreading destructiveness of sin incrementally.
Adam turned his back on God, and chaos became our pandemic experience. Though the curse came, God would not leave Adam (or us) alone. The Lord initiated a plan to redeem humanity from the disorder that we not only caused but seem to enjoy.
The whole Bible is the story of God keeping His promise of redeeming humanity from sin. This worldview is the gospel. The great adventure of the Bible is God completing what He started. Our God brings His story to a glorious end, and you and I are living in that story.
How does this truth control you? Are you aware that you are not a puppet or a spectator in the story that God is writing? Though He is writing the script, He calls you to make real and practical decisions that move the story along.
Your story has so many twists and turns. At times it is hard to understand how the sum of all the moving parts fit into a harmonic whole. Believe it: God, the Master Writer, is writing a cohesive story.
All of the subplots, the drama, the side-stories, and the apparent distractions are part of God’s overall plan. Other than Christ, maybe nobody knew this better than Joseph. He had a hard life. (Read Genesis 37-50.) His experience was one of rejection, betrayal, and personal suffering. But he was also God’s man, whom God chose to live that kind of hard life to push His plan toward fruition.
When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, It may be that Joseph will hate us and pay us back for all the evil that we did to him. So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, Your father gave this command before he died, Say to Joseph, Please forgive the transgression of your brothers and their sin, because they did evil to you. And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father. Joseph wept when they spoke to him (Genesis 50:15-17).
Joseph’s brothers wanted mercy, as you see from what they said to him. The perspective that Joseph had is what I need, as you see in verses 19-21. This snippet gives me the wisdom to understand how to put God’s glory on display. Learn from Joseph’s humility and faith.
But Joseph said to them, Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones. Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them (Genesis 50:19-21).
Putting myself in the place of God is what gets me in trouble. For example, if I were to yield to the temptation of excessive worry, as I do on occasion, I would be thinking that I exactly know what has to happen, while also believing that God may not get it right. At that moment, I need to repent, which means leaving to God what belongs to Him—His right to write my story.
Let me provide other examples of what I’m talking about when we want to take the reigns of the story away from the Lord. Are you living in resentment, anger, or unforgiveness? If so, you are hoping to take God’s right to repay evil from Him while choosing to exercise that right for yourself. (Read 1 Peter 2:18-25.)
Only God can deal with the evil that people do without becoming evil. — Timothy Keller
Unforgiveness will shrink you down into a much lesser person than what God would want you to become. If you try to win, you will most certainly lose. Learn the lesson from Joseph. When someone wrongs you, it can feel so right to retaliate sinfully. And when you do this, you are just one step from self-righteousness.
Self-righteous people are some of the evilest people who ever existed. Self-righteous people are the ones who put Christ to death. I’m talking about myself right now. Self-righteousness is my temptation.
Joseph’s refusal to put himself in place of God ended up putting God on display. His brothers and the entire Egyptian world saw the greatness of God through the humility of His suffering servant.
When you live in God’s story, you will have the best view of what is happening in your life. From the ground-level, you will become confused. Joseph’s sovereign perspective holds two things together that rational thinking cannot hold together:
Life is terrible, but God is good: this is how our great counterintuitive God operates. Evil is real, and it happens to you, but God means it for good. You and I need this kind of wisdom to live rightly in His story.
Remember Adam’s tree (the cross of Christ)? From the ground-level, the gospel is the most confusing thing ever to be put on display before anyone. But from a God-level worldview, it is the wisdom and power of God.
We preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men (1 Corinthians 1:23-25).
The question becomes, “How can you be kind to those who have hurt you?” You leave the stuff that God handles to God. You view the circumstances of your life from God-level, rather than ground-level. You lean into the promises of God. Notice how Joseph’s trust in God writing the story gave him confidence about what to do with his body after he died.
By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites and gave directions concerning his bones (Hebrews 11:22).
In the book of Hebrews, we see Joseph giving direction concerning his bones. The reason he could do that was that he understood how he was part of God’s higher plan. Joseph leaned forward and gave direction about his bones. He knew God would complete what He had begun.
So Joseph died, being 110 years old. They embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt (Genesis 50:26).
Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for Joseph had made the sons of Israel solemnly swear, saying, God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones with you from here (Exodus 13:19).
Discuss with someone what you think regarding these questions and ideas.
Rick Thomas leads a training network for Christians to assist them in becoming more effective soul care providers. RickThomas.Net reaches people around the world through consulting, training, podcasting, writing, counseling, and speaking.
In 1990 he earned a BA in Theology, and in 1991 he received a BS in Education. In 1993 he was ordained into Christian ministry, and in 2000 he graduated with an MA in Counseling from The Master’s University in Santa Clarita, CA. In 2006 he was recognized as a Fellow of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC).