When the news reached Pharaoh's palace that Joseph's brothers had come, Pharaoh and all his officials were pleased. Pharaoh said to Joseph, "Tell your brothers, 'Do this: Load your animals and return to the land of Canaan, and bring your father and your families back to me. I will give you the best of the land of Egypt and you can enjoy the fat of the land.' You are also directed to tell them, 'Do this: Take some carts from Egypt for your children and your wives, and get your father and come. Never mind about your belongings, because the best of all Egypt will be yours.'" (Genesis 45:16-20, NIV)
If you were living in a place totally wrecked by some disaster and word came to you that there were vans and SUV's on their way to gather your entire family group and take them to a place that was in far better shape, what would be your response? To make it even more challenging, say outside of the external difficulty, you still had a fair amount of material possessions around you and, given the time and effort, you could conceivably pack them up and make arrangements to ship them to the new place as well. But at the end of the notice about the transportation, it says "Pack light and don't worry about your stuff. We've got everything you need right here." Would your approach change? Would you be able to just abandon all your things, pack only for the trip, and start over in the new place?
As I write this entry, news has come in of a massive earthquake in Chile. The airport in Santiago is, apparently, in very bad shape. No doubt this will hinder relief efforts greatly as the world tries to descend on the country and begin working through the aftermath of the tragedy. How much like God is it that I started my annual "listen through the Bible" this week and went through Genesis? You see, there was an extended famine in the entire known world, and only Egypt (under the leadership of Joseph) had made provisions in the years leading up to it. Then again, I'm guessing you know the story as well as I do.
What you may not recognize, is the response of Pharaoh when he hears the news of Joseph's reunion with his brothers. Until I heard it read again this week, I had never considered this little part of the story as a reflection of God's call in our much larger story. Joseph, as a reflection of our Savior, has revealed himself to his brothers and shown his forgiveness. He has been put in a position to provide, and provide he will. Pharaoh rejoices at this homecoming and sends word that he will provide transportation for the entire family from Canaan to Goshen post-haste. Oh, and one more thing he offers … they are given an unlimited, pre-paid credit line at all the stores in Egypt. They don't need to worry about packing all their stuff; they just need to load up the wagons and head south.
How much like God this little picture and act are. God has told us Jesus is preparing a place for us and we don't need to worry about or bring anything. We just need to get in the wagons and go! There is no need to pack up all our things and make provision to transport them to our new home even if we could. God has it all set out for us and we don't need to bring so much as our favorite pillow or a change of linens.
And yet, my natural tendency is to accumulate stuff and try to keep track of it. That includes somehow thinking I need to either bring stuff with me into the Kingdom or at the very least send it ahead. I readily admit in my head that God has made total provision, but I somehow keep it from transferring to my heart and living that way all the time. The words of even the pagan Pharaoh provide me with a reminder of what is really in store.
As I travel the Crooked Path, I need to constantly remember the call of the One who is leading and guiding me. He wants me to travel light. And He backs that up with a guarantee of complete provision for the journey and even more when I get to the Final Destination. Excuse me while I go lighten the load I'm carrying a bit.
- Are you traveling heavy or light? Have you taken a good look at the stuff you are carrying around lately?
- Can you hear the voice of God in what Pharaoh said to Joseph and his family? Does the promise of complete provision excite you, or do you have difficulty grasping it?
- Are you ready to embrace the freedom that can come from not worrying about your stuff and the circumstances around you? If you really lived that way, how would your outlook on life change?
NIV - Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.