Upon finishing my post, "The Benefits of Suffering Through Trials
", one of my commentators said, "How is it that you always post just what I need to hear?" She said this because my post just before that also happened to relate to what it was she was going through in her life. The truth is, aside from what I might read on her blog site or receive in comments on my posts, I am clueless about her world. I have no way of knowing what it is she needs. The following three commentators all said much the same thing (except two of them I know personally so I was well aware that this post would minister to them).
But how is it that I was able to write something back-to-back that touched the heart of several people just when they needed it?
The truth is, I have no idea. When I wrote those posts, I was little more than a willing pawn for God's use to honor Him and to help those He knew needed comfort and answers.
All I know is that God knows and see the bigger picture. He not only sees me, but He sees the man next door to me. He not only sees me and the man next door right now, He seems me, the man next door and the lady about to get hit by a car three days from now. Like a professional chess player, God can see several moves ahead while casual onlookers only see pieces scattered presently over the board. (The difference, of course, is that the chess pieces are not alive and we have free will. But God is not so limited that His ultimate will is thwarted just because some may not listen when He calls...He'll just send another who is willing.)
God knows the "random" events that even the best meteorologists cannot predict. And He shows His love and power in how He maneuvers His "chess pieces" by preparing seemingly unrelated people and events to work together for a greater purpose.
Such was the case with Joseph, the second-youngest brother of the twelve sons of Jacob (later renamed by God to be "Israel" in Genesis 32 & 35) who would later become the twelve tribes of Israel.
Genesis 37 begins telling the story about Joseph. A bright, hard wording teen working as a shepherd, Joseph didn't let his age stop him from telling his brothers about the dreams he had with a bit of pride and ego - "You guys are all gonna bow down to me someday," he told them.
But Joseph's brothers hated him for his arrogance and because their father loved him more than them. They plotted to kill him secretly, so great was their anger and jealousy. But, even when Reuben, one of the oldest sons, secretly tried to convince his brothers to an alternate plan that would spare Joseph's life, the other ten managed to sell him off to traveling merchants who eventually sold Joseph to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh in Egypt.
Just what kind of chess game is this? It would seem one of the pawns isn't even on the board any more!
Jump ahead to Genesis 38, and we see Joseph finding favor with Potiphar for his hard work. So much so that Potiphar puts him in charge of everything in his home (except his wife, of course). But Potiphar's wife wasn't a very faithful woman. She kept trying to have an affair with him and every time he was like a stone wall and refused to give in.
One day, though, she made a serious advance, go as far as to grab his cloak when lunging for him, when no one was around. Joseph felt with the utmost haste and managed to leave behind. But the deceitful woman lied about Joseph to her husband, saying Joseph tried to have sex with her. Potiphar was so furious that he threw Joseph in jail.
Even in jail, though, the warden saw that Joseph was a good worker, and like Potiphar, he put Joseph in charge of everything. (Such a strange chess game going on here. I can't make sense of anything. And what about those dreams Joseph had?)
Even more strange chess moves were made in Genesis 40 & 41. God gave dreams to two of Pharaoh's officials (who just happened to be thrown in jail) and later to Pharaoh. News came to Pharaoh that Joseph could interpret dreams. So Joseph explained to Pharaoh that God was telling the Egyptian ruler that there was going to be seven years of grand harvests...followed by seven years of famine. In short, Pharaoh had better get moving to prepare for the devastation that lay ahead. Pharaoh recognized that God was with Joseph, and just like with Potiphar and the jail warden, Joseph was put in charge of the entire kingdom of Egypt, second only to Pharaoh, himself.
Sounds a lot like someone's pawn just got turned into a queen (it's a chess move...it's pretty awesome).
Then Jacob sent his ten oldest sons to Egypt to get food due to the famine. "Since Joseph was governor of all Egypt and in charge of selling grain to all the people, it was to him that his brothers came. When they arrived, they bowed before him with their faces to the ground. Joseph recognized his brothers instantly, but he pretended to be a stranger and spoke harshly to them. 'Where are you from?' he demanded. 'From the land of Canaan,' they replied. 'We have come to buy food.'"
Now, check that out! Let's back up a few chapters and review.
Genesis 37 reads: "One night Joseph had a dream, and when he told his brothers about it, they hated him more than ever. 'Listen to this dream,' he said. 'We were out in the field, tying up bundles of grain. Suddenly my bundle stood up, and your bundles all gathered around and bowed low before mine!'"
Fast forward again and the famine has hit well beyond Egypt by now, and here were Joseph's brothers (not realizing it was him), without food, bowing to their younger brother, whose bundle of grain stood up while the others bowed down. Talk about one trippy chess match.
The story comes to an end at the beginning of chapter 46, but I think it's important to note a critical moment in the dialogue between Joseph and his ten older brothers who, up to this point, had no idea that their egotistical, arrogant, dream-ridden little brother was now the God-blessed leader of Egypt! Let's listen in...
Joseph could stand it no longer. There were many people in the room, and he said to his attendants, "Out, all of you!" So he was alone with his brothers when he told them who he was.Then he broke down and wept. He wept so loudly the Egyptians could hear him, and word of it quickly carried to Pharaoh's palace. "I am Joseph!" he said to his brothers. "Is my father still alive?" But his brothers were speechless! They were stunned to realize that Joseph was standing there in front of them. "Please, come closer," he said to them. So they came closer.And he said again, "I am Joseph, your brother, whom you sold into slavery in Egypt. But don't be upset, and don't be angry with yourselves for selling me to this place. It was God who sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives. This famine that has ravaged the land for two years will last five more years, and there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. God has sent me ahead of you to keep you and your families alive and to preserve many survivors. So it was God who sent me here, not you! And He is the One who made me an adviser to Pharaoh—the manager of his entire palace and the governor of all Egypt."
Genesis 45:1-8 (boldface mine)
Wow. That...was one massively...intense...chess game.
Even as Joseph's brothers sought to take his life, God used that situation to save theirs
So when I am asked how can I know that someone was going to need something that I wrote, my answer is that I didn't. Maybe it was that God whispered in my ear and I felt inclined to write about the idea in my head. Because certainly God knew what my fellow blogger needed even as I didn't. What I do know is that the timing was far too perfect to be mere chance. God can see the entire chess game from beginning to end while I basically suck at it. I'm just a pawn obeying my King's leading.
Checkmate.Whether the situation was good or bad, are you able to perceive God's presence through your it all, or is it not until after all the pieces have been put in place and done their job that you noticed God was at work all along? How do you respond to things that seem to take you further from what you felt sure God was calling you to?