I recently had an opportunity to speak with a group of teenagers on the topic of managing fear. Many in the group said a major concern for them was not being able to discern God’s plan for their lives. While they may be nervous about not following God’s plan I was very excited to know they were eager to hear God speak to them.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:11-13
While God promises that He has plans for each of us He doesn't always make it crystal clear from the start. Life is filled with twists and turns that sometimes leave us questioning our true purpose. And nowhere is that more evident than the story of Joseph, whose life is certainly a series of highs and lows. Originally it seemed God’s path for Joseph was clear and that he and his brothers would follow in the footsteps of their father and share in a great inheritance. However, that plan goes up in smoke as Joseph finds himself in a ditch and later sold into slavery by his jealous brothers.
The backup plan
Soon after Joseph finds himself the attendant for Pharaoh’s captain of the guard, which may not have been his first career choice but it’s a good gig if you can get it. However once again plans are thrown into disarray as Joseph finds himself in prison. But even there he can see God at work as the prison warden gives Joseph great responsibility. As Joseph continued to trust in God he found that he is able to interpret dreams, which leads the cupbearer to promise to remember Joseph and have him set free from prison. This seems like a great plan with one exception – the cupbearer forgets about Joseph.
The backup, backup-plan
The Bible tells us the cupbearer remembers Joseph two years later. That's a long time to wait for God to make His way known to you. But that is a key part of the Christian life – learning to be patient. As you know, Joseph goes on to become one of the leaders of Egypt seeing the country through a great famine and saving thousands of lives through his vision and with God’s help. The young man who was thrown in a ditch to die instead becomes a hero.
The teenagers I spoke with may never be heroes. However, if they are patient and learn the art of being still and listening for God’s voice they will come to understand He indeed does have a plan for them.
Joseph was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers and led off to Egypt where life had its ups and downs. But throughout his experiences – both good and bad – Joseph never loses his focus on God. Just like Joseph, if we keep our eye on God we will come to witness that His hand is in everything that happens in our lives. And that He indeed has a plan for each of us.