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GOD HAS A PLAN

 



GOD HAS A PLAN

His brothers . . . sold him for twenty pieces of silver to the Ishmaelites who took Joseph with them down to Egypt.

GENESIS 37:28 MSG

Down to Egypt. Just a few hours ago, Joseph’s life was looking up. He had a new coat and a pampered place in the house. He dreamed his brothers and parents would look up to him. But what goes up must come down, and Joseph’s life came down with a crash. Put down by his siblings. Thrown down into an empty well. Let down by his brothers and sold down the river as a slave. Then led down the road to Egypt.

Down, down, down. Stripped of name, status, position. Everything he had, everything he thought he’d ever have— gone. Vanished. Poof. Just like that.

Just like you? Have you been down in the mouth, down to your last dollar, down to the custody hearing, down to the bottom of the pecking order, down on your luck, down on your life . . . down . . . down to Egypt?

Life pulls us down.

Joseph arrived in Egypt with nothing. Not a penny to his name or a name worth a penny. His family tree was meaningless. His occupation was despised.2 The clean-shaven people of the pyramids avoided the woolly bedouins of the desert.

No credentials to stand on. No vocation to call on. No family to lean on. He lost everything, with one exception: his destiny.

Through those odd dreams heaven had convinced him that God had plans for him. The details were vague and ill-defined, for sure. Joseph had no way of knowing the specifics of his future. But the dreams told him this much: he would have a place of prominence in the midst of his family. Joseph latched on to this dream for the life jacket it was.

How else do we explain his survival? The Bible says nothing about his training, education, superior skills, or talents.

But the narrator made a lead story out of Joseph’s destiny.

The Hebrew boy lost his family, dignity, and home country, but he never lost his belief in God’s belief in him. Trudging through the desert toward Egypt, he resolved, It won’t end this way. God has a dream for my life. While wearing the heavy chains of the slave owners, he remembered, I’ve been called to more than this. Dragged into a city of strange tongues and shaven faces, he told himself, God has greater plans for me. God had a destiny for Joseph, and the boy believed in it.

 

     DON’T DESPAIR,

GOD IS

NEAR

 

WHEN THE WORLD BOTTOMS OUT


Melanie Jasper says her son, Cooper, was born with a smile on his face. The dimple never left his cheek. He won the

hearts of every person he knew: his three older sisters, parents, grandparents, teachers, and friends. He loved to laugh and love. His father, JJ, confessing partiality, calls him practically the perfect child.

And Cooper was born to the perfect family. Farmdwelling, fun-loving, God-seeking, and Christ-hungry, JJ and Melanie poured their hearts into their four children. JJ cherished every moment he had with his only son. That’s why they were riding in the dune buggy on July 17, 2009. They intended to cut the grass together, but the lawn mower needed a spark plug. While Melanie drove to town to buy one, JJ and five-year-old Cooper seized the opportunity for a quick ride. They had done this a thousand times, zipping down a dirt road in a roll-caged cart. The ride was nothing new. But the flip was. On a completely level road with Cooper safely buckled in, JJ made a circle, and the buggy rolled over.

Cooper was unresponsive. JJ called 911, then Melanie. “There has been an accident,” he told her. “I don’t think Cooper is going to make it.” The next hours were every parent’s worst nightmare: ambulance, ER, sobs, and shock. And finally the news. Cooper had passed from this life into heaven. JJ and Melanie found themselves doing the unthinkable: selecting a casket, planning a funeral, and envisioning life without their only son. In the coming days they fell into a mind-numbing rhythm. Each morning upon awakening they held each other and sobbed uncontrollably. After gathering enough courage to climb out of bed, they would go downstairs to the family and friends who awaited them. They would soldier through the day until bedtime. Then they would go to bed, hold each other, and cry themselves to sleep.

JJ told me, “There is no class or book on this planet that can prepare you to have your five-year-old son die in your arms . . . We know what the bottom looks like.”

The bottom. We pass much of life—if not most of life—at mid-altitude. Occasionally we summit a peak: our wedding, a promotion, the birth of a child. But most of life is lived at midlevel. Mondayish obligations of carpools, expense reports, and recipes.

But, on occasion, the world bottoms out. The dune buggy flips, the housing market crashes, the test results come back positive, and before we know it, we discover what the bottom looks like.

Today JJ’s hurts are still deep, but his faith is deeper still.

Whenever he tells the story of losing Cooper, he says this: “We know what the bottom looks like, and we know who is waiting there—Jesus Christ.”

 


“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks

to us in our conscience

but shouts to us in our pain.”

C. S. LEWIS



In His Own Words:

CLAY’S STORY


A s a lifelong type 1 diabetic, I knew what was coming. I had seen my mother die from renal failure when she was forty-eight, and I was now forty-nine. For years my kidneys had slowly been losing function and now were down to 40 percent. I just wanted to see my only child graduate from high school.

 

But God had other plans.

 

Two days before my son’s graduation, I had a heart attack —and I never saw it coming! I was in great shape: I worked out five or six days a week, and I had a slim build and low cholesterol. The doctors told me, however, that years of diabetes had caused plaque to build up in my arteries. The next thing I knew, it was bypass surgery time. All the things you think are so important—job, house, graduation parties, whatever—fade into the background when you think about your chest being cracked open!

 

My wife and I cried as we planned for the worst and prayed for the best. I survived and began the recovery process. The dye used in the process of mapping my arteries, however, caused my kidney function to drop to 20 percent. After some days it became clear that my kidney function would keep deteriorating: I needed a kidney transplant.

 

While my wife was in the clinic waiting to be tested as a possible donor—and praying—Paul, the father of my son’s friend, walked up to her. He put his hand on her shoulder and said he was there to be tested too. I had met Paul only a few times before. It turned out that he was a member of Journey Fellowship, a church we had visited a few times (we’re now members!).

 

And by God’s grace he was an excellent match to be a kidney donor.

As weeks went by, my body was getting weaker, but my spirit stronger, as I saw the hand of the Lord on my life as he worked through countless people and in response to many prayers. I had ten medical procedures, including four surgeries in six months, and then dialysis. It culminated on December 15, 2010, with Paul and me lying in the hospital next to each other waiting for transplant surgery. We both made it through, and today our families are, needless to say, dearest friends.

 

The year 2010 was one of great physical pain and intense emotional distress, and while it may sound odd, I would not trade it now for anything. God drew me closer to him through all of the struggles, closer than I had been in any period of my life. Even though I had grown up in church and had been growing in my faith, the perspective I now have on life is priceless. I am so thankful for many little things every day, and I see God’s beauty, love, and purpose everywhere.

 

 

Where can I go to get away from your

Spirit? Where can I run from you? . . . If I rise with the sun in the east and settle in

the west beyond the sea, even there you

would guide me. With your right hand you would hold me. * Be strong and

brave. Don’t be afraid of them and don’t be frightened, because the LORD your

God will go with you. He will not leave you or forget you. * He is not far from any of us. * The LORD your God is in

your midst, a mighty one who will save;

he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will

exult over you with loud singing.

PSALM 139:7, 9–10; DEUTERONOMY 3

1:6; ACTS 17:27; ZEPHANIAH 3:17 ESV

 

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