He read to his daughter, the story of Joseph and his brothers, from the black winged arm-chair in the living room of the farm-house. He wore his thick black rimmed glasses. She sat on one of the chair’s extended arms and listened. He was teaching her the importance of the scriptures.
Why did they throw him in the well? She asked.
They were threatened by him. And jealous, he said. They felt he had special treatment from their father. Joseph went from privileged freedom to being a slave and prisoner so that his faith could grow (Genesis 37:1-44:9). You’ll learn to understand what that means one day. Faith grows within the walls of opposition so that we can learn to fight the Good fight.
How many times had I had conversations with Dad like that? Though his words fell on the fertile soil of youth and I could have done better, I did not prove to have strength for opposition in the decades that followed. I tried to battle it on my own. Until I learned I didn’t have to.
It’s been a year since my dad died and I’ve realized, in some ways, I hid behind the stories I wrote about his faith even though I had finally grown some of my own. I knew the power behind the words in Dad’s stories but I didn’t want to offend anyone so I let him be my voice. Afterall, many of my close friends and relatives are Buddhist, Jewish, Atheist, and other beliefs that don’t acknowledge Jesus as the incarnate Son of God. Who was I to challenge that, or them? (I knew that Dad viewed it as the purpose of his existence—to bring people to Jesus—so I left the challenge with him.)
Tension toward an 85-year-old who happened to be a great storyteller—and funny too—giving testimony to his lifelong faith was less likely to offend. I figured. There was a sweetness that had grown in him that trumped any overbearing tendencies he had had when he was younger. He genuinely loved people and they loved him back. He lived what he preached. Me? I was a people pleaser. God knew that.
But Dad’s not here now to hide behind. And I got tired of people pleasing. The time came when I found no satisfaction in avoiding it—I could not NOT talk and write about my faith. Dad was right, opposition increased, but so did strength. And joy and freedom.
Give me your moments. As I filled Bazalel*, I fill my worker today with all kinds of ability and knowledge, equipping them for special service. Great are the works of the LORD. They are pondered by all who delight in them. Do not seek people’s affirmation. Trust in Me. I cause My Wonders to be remembered. I Am gracious and compassionate and provide for those who fear Me. The works of My Hands are faithful and just. All My Precepts are Trustworthy (Psalm 111).
Wisdom is proved right by all her children. There are two kinds of wisdom. If you have envy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not boast or deny the truth. Where there is envy and selfish ambition there you will find disorder. But the Wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure, then peace loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. It is shown by her good life, by deeds done in humility that comes from such wisdom. And remember, faith without deeds is dead (James 3: 13-17).
Trust Me in the deepest part of your being. I AM here—not condemning, but supporting. Don’t get the two confused. Persist in doing what is right. Pursue excellence in all you do and always look for what brings glory to the Father—your Father in heaven. Continue to do good and trust in the result—through loss, through gain, when all seems hopeless and you’re tempted to give up and lose faith. Be patient. Do all for the glory of God (1Cor: 10:31). I promise a (heavenly) reward. 😉
*Bazalel means in the shadow/protection of God (Exodus 31:2).