These words have been running through my head lately:
Made for This.
Seemingly that’s how God starts speaking to me- or at least how He helps me focus. He gives me a thought or a phrase that sticks with me. Here are some from the past.
It is finished.
Do what only You can do.
It will be worth it.
These phrases end up being my guideposts.
And made for this has been stuck in my head lately.
Made for this.
I’ve been using it in situations where I feel dead- let me explain that. In situations where I’m doing something that I know in my gut and in my spirit that I wasn’t made to do. Usually doing that thing brings me a deep sadness. I feel stuck. Discontent. Frustrated. Calmly sad sometimes. And I have a hard time focusing on that task and finding joy in it, because I don’t feel like I was made to do this.
On the opposite side of that- there are things that invigorate me- project management. Creativity. Painting projects. Writing. Traveling. Reading beautiful things. Listening to God and having hours upon hours to spend time with Him and hear what He says. I know that’s what I’m made for. I’m made to create and inspire and encourage.
And when I’m not doing that, I feel stuck.
As I mentioned in my last post, the season of life that I’m in right now feels like a middle place. And as a result- I think of Joseph.
God showed Joseph early in his life what He was made for. But there were a lot of “middle places” in between there. A lot of places where Joseph definitely seemed stuck.
So shortly after Joseph received the dream from God, Joseph’s dream is exactly what got him into all of the bad situations he found himself in that seemed like horrible “middle places” (and that’s an understatement). More and more, his brothers envied him because of the dream he received. Check out Genesis 37:19:
19 “Here comes that dreamer!” they said to each other. 20 “Come now, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him. Then we’ll see what comes of his dreams.”
You can hear it in their voices, the way they say dreamer. They’re mad at him. Envious. They think he thinks he’s better than them. And they can’t take it anymore. So they attempt to kill the favorite.
Then, as they’re leaving Joseph to die, here come the Ishmaelite slave traders:
“25 As they sat down to eat their meal, they looked up and saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead. Their camels were loaded with spices, balm and myrrh, and they were on their way to take them down to Egypt.
26 Judah said to his brothers, “What will we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood? 27 Come, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him; after all, he is our brother, our own flesh and blood.” His brothers agreed.
28 So when the Midianite merchants came by, his brothers pulled Joseph up out of the cistern and sold him for twenty shekels[b] of silver to the Ishmaelites, who took him to Egypt.”
If Joseph hadn’t been sold into slavery, his life would have ended right there. I mean, God could have provided another way if He wanted to, but slavery was Joseph’s way out. It sure didn’t seem like it.
Looking in on Joseph’s situation from the outside, no one would have chosen that route to get to the end result God had promised. Let me explain. God told Joseph that his family would one day bow down to him, even his parents. No one would assume that the fast track to being a person of influence would start with slavery.
No one told him that the fast track to being a person of influence would start with slavery. (I repeated that on purpose.)
Dang. Dang dang it. That stinks.
If I was Joseph, I’d only really be able to be thankful looking back. Once God’s dream happened, then everything would make sense. I would probably be so mad in between. I would have started with joy upon hearing the dream, then have been angry the rest of the time. I probably would have been shouting at God,
“I WASN’T MADE FOR THIS.”
Just like I feel like I am now.
There are parts of life that aren’t invigorating.
And God knew I would need to know what I was made for in order to stay hopeful in the seasons that are necessary, yet that I know I wasn’t made for. They’re not my ultimate purpose, but they are necessary.
God’s dream for Joseph was kick started by Joseph entering into slavery. Then being faithful where He was.
And God promoted him.
And God promoted him.
And God promoted him.
And God gave Joseph necessary intersections along the way in his “middle place” (such as Joseph getting to interpret the dream of the baker and cup bearer) that prepared him for the times when he would move closer and closer to the purpose that God had for him.
So. He wasn’t made for those things, ultimately. But those things that he wasn’t made for equipped him for the things he was made for.
I’m a big thinker. I like big goals. Big dreams. I like seeing God do big things that I couldn’t imagine happening where I couldn’t know the path to take to make them happen even if I tried. I’m all a fan of having God-sized dreams and settling for nothing less. I get excited about not wasting life on small goals. Because I think we should live lives that obediently make more room for God to work His glory to be seen and for Him to do what only He can do.
Joseph did too, I think. God gave him a dream and Joseph had the faith to believe it. (As seen by his joy upon receiving the dream.)
Just like Joseph, in order to get to things God has made me for, I’m probably going to have to take a path that I don’t feel made for. A path that, at first, might not seem to lead to the God-sized ending that He has promised. It might start with things that I don’t feel like I’m made for, but, because God is leading it, I will always end up in places that will equip me for His ultimate goal for me.
How did Joseph get through? How did he get through the boring parts that felt like middle places and that, from every angle, seemed to not match up or lead to the end goal?
Joseph was faithful to God, not to his dream.
Joseph wasn’t guided by what he was made for. He was guided by God. And that’s why he was able to stay faithful.
Even in slavery.
Even in jail.
Even when wrongly accused or forgotten.
He stayed faithful to God.
If Joseph had given up and not done his best in the situations that didn’t seem like they’d lead to the dream God had given him, he never would have been promoted to be in charge of storing and distributing food for the nation. He never would have helped people. And he never would have been noticed for his responsibility and faithfulness to God no matter what situation he was in.
That’s rough to hear. But it’s so necessary.
Joseph was faithful to God. Despite the fact that he believed the dream and was joyful about it, he remained faithful to God more than the dream.
And that’s what we have to do.
Our faithfulness to God is what matters.
And in the end we’ll end up where He wants us.
So here I am. I feel like I’m in a middle place, because I know it’s not what invigorates me. But my source is my God who gave me my dreams. Not my dreams themselves. Dreams are inspiring only for a time. They only get us through for a while, and then we always require new dreams to get excited about.
God is our rock that is with us through every middle place. He is our destination. And so we always arrive in His will because we are with Him and can trust that He is in control. Even when the places we are in right now feel unimportant or less than exciting.
Our story might just start with slavery. But it will always end how God wants. Even if it’s not the path we imagined.
It’s all about being with Him and trusting.
Joseph’s relationship with God (and mine) surely grew more because he had to trust God in those middle places. It’s easier to rely on God when everything seems to be lining up. We find out for ourselves who God really is when we see Him come through in the situations where we can’t.
And that’s what we were made for. We are made for relationship with Him. Everything else is just a beautiful bonus so that His will can be fulfilled and His purposes done on this earth. What matters is that we did it with Him.
So in this season. I don’t quite feel like I’m doing 100% what I was made for in the end. But I was made to be with God right here. Right where I am. And He is enough. I need to take hold of Him. And stay faithful to Him.
I’ll hold onto my dreams. Because they’re from God and He gave them to me. And I’ll need to remember them. Because they will happen. But my God is my solid rock and the dream-giver and the dream-fulfiller who made me for my dreams, but who, most of all, made me for Himself.
When my present doesn’t look like the future He’s promised, I take it as His invitation to draw near to Himself and endure. That’s what He has made me for.
"Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible." - Hebrews 11:1-3
If you need more faith for your present circumstances or season, check out Hebrews 11. It's all about people who "persevered because [they] saw Him who is invisible.