But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive. Genesis 50:20
I had the privilege to spend the weekend at a FOCIS retreat at Cove Valley Christian Youth Camp. It was a weekend geared towards serving, as well as connecting with other single individuals. Our speaker for the weekend was Brother Isaac Gehman from the Living Water Mennonite Church. For me, the sessions that I connected with the most was “Recognizing God’s Providence” and “Freedom.”
Brother Isaac shared several different quotes this weekend that I treasured. “Life is best understood looking back, but it must be lived going forward.” We see God’s providence reflected in not only Joseph’s life but also in the life of Ruth and Esther among many other examples in Scriptures. For me, seeing God’s providence in my life is humbling.
One such area was that of my time of service in Nicaragua. When the time came to give the mission board an answer regarding my term of service, I did not feel at peace about staying. I felt God calling me to complete my 2-year commitment, but to return home once that was completed. I did not understand “why” as I loved what I was doing. But fast forward 3+ years – Jordan received the call from Pittsburg that a liver was available for his transplant. Now looking back, I can see God’s hand in it all. I was called home so that I might be with my family as we walked this unknown road together. A road that would be hard before it was easy. God was in control and all-knowing! And it humbles me to see His providence in just one of the many areas in my life.
Another quote Brother Isaac shared was “most hurts we feel always to some degree are a product of pride and selfishness.” That stopped me in my tracks, but how true it is! Oft times we are hurt because we think “we deserve better.” Not all hurt can be avoided, but it is what we make of it. Too often I am guilty of rehashing the incident in my mind. He challenged us “when do you forgive?” In the life of Christ as He hung on the cross, He said: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” He forgave immediately!
By forgiving, we release the offender from being responsible to us, but we also release ourselves and it gives us freedom. We might not forget what took place, but we forgive unconditionally. It is not OPTIONAL; it is essential and is only possible by the grace of God. And just as Joseph told his brothers, so can we say: it was meant for evil, but God meant it for good.
Another area that struck close home was “no one is prepared to lead until they have learned to serve. We see Joseph serving his father, Potiphar, the prison keeper, and as a ruler. Only when we have become a servant will we truly be able to lead. I know so often I fall short in serving those around me. Galatians 5:13 calls us “by love serve one another.” True servanthood comes out of a heart of love for one another.
The weekend was truly a blessing, as I interacted with friends and made new friends. But also I was truly challenged in my Christian walk to take a step back and evaluate my life. May God receive all the glory!
Until next time,