Saturday, June 7, 2008
"You will have your chance..."
"Pharoah sent for Joseph, and he was quickly brought from the dungeon. When he had shaved and changed his clothes, he came before Pharoah." -- Genesis 41:14
Cars is a special movie in our household. It's an entertaining story with a good message about humility and true friendship.
One of our favorite characters in Cars is Guido, the feisty little forklift, faithful employee of Luigi's Casa Della Tires, whose ultimate dream is to administer a "Peet Stop" to a real race car in a real race. Toward the end of the movie, Guido's dream comes true, as he joins Lightning McQueen's surprise pit crew for the championship race.
A significant moment occurs during this sequence of events. The race begins, and Guido is in high spirits as he arranges his equipment in preparation for Lightning's eventual pit stop. Just then, the pit crew from a rival race car makes fun of Guido, setting off his anger, which he expresses in a barrage of Italian threats and comebacks. Fortunately, Guido's boss, Luigi, intervenes and calms Guido down with the wise words, "You will have your chance, Guido. You will have... your... chance."
Later, Guido does indeed have his chance, and pulls off a miracle four-tire change that keeps McQueen in the race when all appeared lost.
What is significant about this forklift who toiled in obscurity for years, dreaming of something bigger?
Obviously, he kept his dream alive and didn't give up on it. But, that's not especially remarkable. Many people hold onto many dreams for many years.
What sets Guido apart from many other dreamers is the fact that he was ready when his moment arrived, and he responded with his best effort at that pivotal moment. There was no hesitation. Fear was overcome by courage. There was no resentment over how long he had had to wait, how many times he had been overlooked, or how unfairly he had been judged by others who never thought he had it in him. He didn't question whether those depending upon him deserved his help. He simply stepped up and delivered what the moment required, what he had been preparing himself to do, and what he had always dreamed of doing. His service was critical to the cause, and fulfilling for him, the perfect blend of personal achievement and team success.
Guido stands out from the crowd of dreamers because he was ready, and because he delivered.
So does Joseph.
Joseph's moment came without warning on a random day. He was over two years into an unjust prison term, and must have wondered how on earth his life had come to this. Within the space of a few years, he had gone from being his father's favored son, to being a slave sold into Potiphar's house; from bravely resisting the sexual advances of Potiphar's wife, to being falsely accused of sexual assault by the same woman; from accurately interpreting the dreams of fellow inmates, to being totally forgotten by the royal cupbearer, whose release from prison Joseph had predicted. None of this was deserved, but none of it was wasted, either. God was working on Joseph the entire time, molding his character and preparing him for his moment.
Joseph had long dreamed of great things. He had earned his brothers' scorn by sharing with them his dreams of being their leader, of a time that would come in which they would pay homage to him. It's likely that Joseph misunderstood these dreams as much as his brothers did. By the time Joseph actually became a leader, it was no longer in his character to enjoy the thrill of power for power's sake. His heart had been molded into that of a compassionate servant. His power was used for the good of those in need, not for Joseph's glory. It was used to preserve God's people, not to avenge Joseph's wounds. As Joseph said of all his trials, "God meant it for good." (Genesis 50:20).
But, none of this could have come about if not for Joseph's moment. The moment when Joseph had his chance to be God's instrument for good. The moment when Joseph stepped up and delivered.
Unbeknownst to Joseph the inmate, Pharaoh is troubled over two dreams he has had. None of his magicians or wise men can interpret the dreams, and suddenly the royal cupbearer remembers a man he knew in prison, a man who interpreted dreams, and whose interpretations proved to be true. The cupbearer finally does the favor Joseph asked him to do over two years before, and tells Pharaoh about Joseph. And, then, Joseph finally has his chance...
"Pharaoh sent for Joseph, and he was quickly brought from the dungeon. When he had shaved and changed his clothes, he came before Pharaoh." -- Genesis 41:14
The rest is history. Joseph's immediate, accurate interpretations of Pharaoh's dreams, coupled with his recommendations of how to prepare for the coming famine, earn Joseph the lofty position of second-in-command over all Egypt, and the stage is set for the salvation of Joseph's family.
But, there are telling details to be found in Joseph's moment. Especially notable are the things that are absent. There is no hesitation. There is no resentment over how long he had had to wait. There is no self-defense or statement of innocence. There is no question of whether those in need of his help really deserve it. There is no thought of deliberately misleading Pharoah in a selfish act of vengeance. In fact, there is no assurance that he isn't going right back to prison after doing this favor for a Pharaoh who doesn't even worship Jehovah. There is no attempt to pass off this power of interpretation as his own; before he even begins, Joseph gives the disclaimer that this power is not his own, but comes only from God. When Joseph is elevated by Pharaoh, there is no hint of any grudge held over the injustice dealt to Joseph. There are no demands for any type of recompense, or even an apology. Joseph simply accepts the honor and goes to work.
Absent is every possible feeling, thought, word, or deed that would have made Joseph the center of the moment. This moment is about God, and only about Him, and Joseph recognizes that he is only God's instrument in the moment. It is this realization that allows Joseph to step up and deliver as he does.
What about the Christian today?
Are you willing to accept the role God has in mind for you? Are you allowing yourself to be molded by God, and prepared for service? Perhaps even service you cannot imagine right now?
Are you alert to moments that could possibly be more than just moments? It could be nothing more than a Bible class that needs a teacher, or a hurting person who needs encouragement. It could be a chance to share faith with a stranger, or a family in need of food or clothing.
It could indeed be an opportunity of great magnitude. A job in another city. An old, wounded relationship restored and begun anew. The abandonment of a habit that used to damage your credibility as a Christian. The long overdue forgiveness extended to someone who hurt you.
Whatever the will of God for your life, there will be a moment. You will have your chance.
Are you prepared to be God's instrument in that moment?
Or, will you squander the opportunity for the sake of smaller things?