Sleep covered me like a heavy fog on a wet fall morning. I was caught between a dream and reality when I first remember the sound of the piercing howl. I struggled to open an eye to take a peek at the time plastered across my ceiling. 5:08. The howl began to increase in volume and I knew I had to address it. “Carl, go back to bed!” Thankfully, after a moment I heard the soft tapping of paws as he retreated back down the hallway.
It just wasn’t time for me to rise. If the time read 6:00, I would have gotten up and fed Carl and Bee but it was just too early. Again, I can’t fault Carl for trying. How often do we send out our own piercing cries to God to only receive a silent response? I wonder if He may be thinking the same thing as I was with Carl. It’s just too early. Whenever I feel frustrated that my prayers are not being answered on my time line, I think about the life of Joseph.
As the story opens up in Genesis 37, Joseph’s life was going great. He was favored by his father Jacob and all of his brothers knew it. And to make his brothers even more irritated with him, Joseph had been given dreams by God that demonstrated how he would rule over his family one day. I can’t help but think that Joseph must have thought that his life was going to be a wonderful ride through Disney World.
But as we know, life doesn’t always turn out the way we think it will. God had a specific plan for Joseph’s life that worked on a very clear time line. One afternoon everything changed for this young lad with a multicolored coat that his father had given him. He was sent to find his brothers who had been working in the fields many miles away from home. Thinking that his brothers would be happy to see him, he approached them to only find hostility.
The brothers had had enough of Joseph with his multicolored coat. So they thought of a plan to kill him but instead threw him in a pit until they could figure out what to do next. Right on time, the Ishmaelites come riding up and agree to buy Joseph for twenty shekels of silver. They happen to be going to Egypt where they end up selling Joseph to Potiphor, the captain of the guards.
Because God was with Joseph, life took a positive spin and he was given authority over all of the guards and only had to answer to his master. But then the plot thickens and Potiphor’s wife starts lusting after Joseph. She was relentless with her advances but Joseph refused to sleep with her. Then one day, Joseph rejected her again but this time she grabbed his cloak as he ran out of the room. Saving face, she told her husband that Joseph had tried to sleep with her. With no other options, Potiphar, probably knowing his wife was lying, had Joseph put in prison.
It would have been so easy for Joseph to have been consumed with bitterness at the injustice of the situation, but instead, he trusted in God. So it came to pass that Joseph was given authority over all the prisoners and was able to interact with all who were held captive. Then right on cue, a baker and butler offended the king of Egypt and were thrown into prison. Soon after their imprisonment, they had troublesome dreams that they couldn’t interpret. Joseph hears about the dreams and prays to God for discernment. And sure enough Joseph is able to explain to both the baker and butler what will happen. Joseph then pleads with the butler that after he is released he will speak with the pharaoh on his behalf.
How many nights do you think Joseph thought the prison doors would open and they would call for his release? How many times do you think he called out to God for understanding?One year passed and then another. I can’t imagine what went through Joseph’s mind during these dark days held in prison for a crime he didn’t commit.
Then one night the pharaoh had a dream that was extremely troublesome. It just so happened the butler over heard the pharaoh’s request to have someone come forth to interpret the dream. And at this exact time, the butler remembered Joseph.
Joseph was called to the pharaoh and asked to interpret the dream. He tells the pharaoh that he can’t interpret the dream but God can. So after prayer, Joseph explains the dream and how in the next seven years the nation of Egypt would have an abundant harvest that would be followed by seven years of famine. He explains the importance of preparing for the famine.
The pharaoh is so impressed with Joseph’s ability to interpret the dream that he places him in the highest authority given to man underneath the pharaoh himself.
And so it came to pass that during the famine, Joseph’s family is starving and goes to Egypt to buy grain. When they enter the courtyard of the palace, Joseph recognizes his brothers but disguises himself so they won’t know him. They all bow down before him, not knowing that this was exactly what Joseph had stated would happen so many years ago.
Joseph’s heart is breaking but he doesn’t disclose his identity until his entire family is reunited and he knows his father Jacob is alive and well. God then provides for all of Jacob’s descendants by giving them land outside of Egypt where they can raise sheep and be separated from the Egyptians.
Whenever I doubt that God is in control of the timing of events in my life, I go back to the story of Joseph. God’s will for Joseph and his family are clearly illustrated here in Genesis for all of us to reflect on as we question God about His timing. As for Carl’s sense of timing, he must have gotten the message that it was not time to wake up and laid down on his bed until I arose an hour later.