Genesis Day 57: Coming of Age... at 17
Think back to when you were 17 years old. Was it a memorable year? (Maybe you are 17 right now!)
For many of us, 17 years of age was one of those special years…one year shy of legally being an adult.
If you are older than 17, then pick a few memories. What are they? For me, I remember my senior year—with its highs and lows. The highs included a football championship and being selected to attend a military academy.
That age has inspired many a song-writer…check out this google search.
It is a time that weighs on young adult minds. They are feeling the pressure of life. They are struggling to understand themselves. Some are falling in love. All are dreaming.
Regardless of what you or I may think of 17-year-olds, God uses them! The story you have read today, Genesis 37, is the beginning of the next chapter in God’s plan to establish His people, the nation of Israel.
The chapter starts with a dreamer—a 17-year-old dreamer (who should probably keep his dreams to himself). Joseph is front and center. By the end of Genesis, we will see more than a dreaming boy—we will see a man of character.
Yet the journey, which began with a dream, has taken a sharp turn. Joseph finds himself first in a well—and then as a slave. And at the hands of his family, no less.
It is often said that we learn from our mistakes, and not our successes. I picture Joseph, newly enslaved, reflecting on just how he got himself into this situation. You and I would know doubt say that Joseph’s actions did not warrant this sort of reaction. True enough. Yet this situation certainly provides for introspection on Joseph’s part.
When we are wronged, we have a few choices: to focus on blame, or on growth.
To focus on blame, on those who wronged us, fills our heart with anger, bitterness, even vengeance.
To focus on growth, on what we might have done differently, fills our heart with humility.
Another choice is to ask, “What is it the God is trying to teach me?” I have friends in China. Pastors. When they end up in jail, they will often thank God for His blessing. They say things like, “God knew I needed to spend more time in prayer” or “God sent me to share Jesus with the people in prison.”
In the coming days, we will see Joseph emerge as an amazing man of character. I wonder if this episode is one where God is shaping this young boisterous boy into that man.
My friends and I have this phrase we use with each other: “God knocked off a big piece today!” It draws on the image of a sculptor chiseling on a rock. Out of the rock will emerge a beautiful image. Picture the image of Michelangelo’s statue of David. It started as a rock. A sharp chisel driven into its seemingly impervious surface with even sharper blows were necessary for this 17-foot-tall image to come to life. God is always chiseling us, and sometimes He needs to knock off a big piece.