When Joseph's brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, "What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?" So they sent word to Joseph, saying, "Your father left these instructions before he died: 'This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.' Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father." When their message came to him, Joseph wept. His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. "We are your slaves," they said. But Joseph said to them, "Don't be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don't be afraid. I will provide for you and your children." And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them. (Genesis 50:15-21, NIV)
I've needed my vision corrected for most of my life. I've done glasses, contacts, had corrective surgery, and now am back in glasses again (no, the laser surgery is not permanent for most of us). There were times my correction actually took my vision to 20-15, meaning slightly sharper than the standard we all strive for. My optometrist told me that the people working on the upcoming rounds of laser surgery are seeking for the "perfect" curve which would allow eyes to achieve 20-10 correction. I believe that's the very bottom line on the chart which says "If you can read this you probably got up out of the chair and are squinting anyway."
Then there is the vision we all look for that we like to call "hindsight". It's always perfect, or at least we pretend it is. We look back and declare "if I only did this or that, then I would be in a different situation now." But how many times do we look back and try to find what God was doing that lead us to this current time and place. Oh, we all claim to have seen His handiwork from time to time, but it is probably pretty rare in our lives that we actually take rest after the most difficult times to say that God was right there all the time and had a plan to use us in a mighty way ... a way beyond what we could have possibly imagined.
And that leads us to the passage above and the thought of "50-20 vision" that I'm writing about. Thanks to one of my cyber-friends, Gary, for posting this on a social network site. It immediately prompted me to look to Genesis and find out just what type of 50-20 vision Joseph had. It was a familiar account, but in light of the way God has prompted me to think about His Bigger Story, I knew it meant so much more.
Jacob was dead. He had at least died happy in his old age, having been restored to his precious son, Joseph. The ten conniving brothers had been provided for in the middle of their own crisis by the very brother they had shipped off for the most meager price, all while concocting a lie to tell dear old dad that would impress the best fiction writers. And with dad gone, the boys were deathly afraid that Joseph would give them what they truly deserved. The human conscience will do that to you, even if you ignore it for most of your life. And so they craft one more little story to try and safeguard their future. Though the text doesn't explicitly say it, I think Joseph saw right through this ruse, just like he saw through most of what his brothers said and did. And he quickly turns the tables, based on his 50-20 vision (as in verse 20 from chapter 50).
"You meant to harm me, but God intended it for good." The words had to seer like a hot iron through their hearts. They stood guilty, judged, and convicted of their own deceit. And without bragging, Joseph almost thanks them, because it allowed him to be God's agent to save not only them, but multitudes in that region of the world. Then he went one step further and spoke "kindly" to them, reassuring them he would make sure they continued to live in peace and prosperity for the rest of their days. Joseph's acute vision saw God's hand in the past and trusted in God's plan for the future.
As I travel the Crooked Path, I can rest in complete confidence that God is at work through me and around me. He has a master plan that will be fulfilled and He invites me to be a part of it. He alone will correct my vision so that I can see Him and His work. 50-20 vision like Joseph had is achievable, but only when I turn the work over to God and look through His eyes. Thinking about it, it brings me a great sense of peace.
- How's your vision right now? Are you having trouble seeing what is right in front of you, or perhaps what lead to you being where you are?
- Is it possible for you to get the same visual acuity that Joseph had, allowing you to see God working in you and through you?
- Are you ready to be God's hands, feet, and eyes in your world? Are you ready to have an impact on others even if your life seems to be headed places you never intended to go?