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God's Providence and Our Initiative
How could any human orchestrate the journey that Joseph took from a Dothan pit to the pinnacle of power? No one has the ability to do this on their own. God sovereignly placed Joseph next to Pharoah in order to save the nation of Israel from starvation. God’s hand painted a beautiful mosaic of divine happenings. It was an amazing story of man's partnership with God.
Yet, Joseph had to make some choices along the way to stay on this divine path toward fulfilling his destiny. He had to be intentional. He had to pass the tests of bitterness, unbelief, purity, and fear. There were others, but these four stand out as some of the greatest challenges to Joseph and even to us.
How do we balance God’s providence and our own efforts? I think it is a lot like surfing. We ride the wave that comes our way. At the right moment we start to paddle in order to catch the momentum of the ocean inspired swell. It’s a timing thing. We didn’t generate the wave, but placed ourselves in the right position to take advantage of its natural propulsion.
So when the test of offense comes to drive us toward bitterness, we choose instead to ride the wave of forgiving offense and belief in God’s ability to cause all things to work together for good (Romans 8:28). When the test of immorality comes, we choose the wave of purity (or fleeing out of the room). When the test of unbelief comes, we choose the wave of faith. When the test of fear comes, we choose the wave of courage. Tests come in waves.
Then the big set of destiny comes barreling toward us and because we passed all the other tests, we are now in position to start paddling to catch the momentum of this God inspired surge. However, if we don’t paddle, the wave will pass us by. Joseph passed a lot of previous tests and when pharaoh asked him to interpret his terrifying dream he shot the gap of this Banzai Pipeline wave and brought the presence of God into the courts of Egypt. He astounded all with his interpretation. He was intentional when his moment came. He rose. God wants us to rise, too.
Many in the Bible hit the mark and even missed the mark of divine timing. Esther approached the king at the right time and saved her people from annihilation. David slung his stone at his moment and entered the courts of kingship. Moses led his people out of Egypt at the right opportunity and disqualified himself from entering the promised land in another. King Saul missed his chance by disobeying God when the wave of testing rolled into his life. The tests are extreme when it comes to their consequences and rewards.
It takes an ability to flow with God’s momentum. There is work involved, but God causes the growth and ascendency (Psalm 75). It’s work, but not work. Do you know what I mean? It’s a rhythm thing. It’s a flow thing. It’s an abiding thing. It takes patience to wait for the set and intentionality to catch it. All the while we are floating on God’ s waters’ of destiny, bobbing up and down, swishing with the currents, dangling our feet in its briny depths.
God is sovereign and we are intentional. May we all catch the waves that God sends us, especially the big one of destiny and calling. Ride well.