Among the many lessons God has been teaching me is this: people must make their own choices. One might read that last statement and say, ‘Duh!’ and I would understand why. Yet I must comment that I thought I knew this truth for years but I don’t think I really ‘knew’ it deep down until certain circumstances came about. Yes, I can teach, guide, and advise but I can’t make decisions for others. I wonder if Joseph could relate…
The eleven brothers of Joseph traveled back to Canaan to share the good news of his survival with their father Jacob, pack up their families and belongings, and journey back to Egypt to stay for a while. Joseph settled them in the rich land of Goshen then chose 5 brothers to present to Pharaoh. Knowing the Egyptian culture, Joseph knew Pharaoh and the people detested shepherds so he tried to prep his brothers and wisely advise them. When asked about their occupation, they were to say they tended ‘livestock’ instead of saying they were shepherds. However, as soon as the question left Pharaoh’s lips, the brothers said they were… you guessed it… shepherds! I wonder if Joseph groaned inwardly or had to work to keep from rolling his eyes because he gave them wise counsel they chose to ignore.
As parents, grandparents, teachers, youth leaders, friends, etc., we have the opportunity to teach, guide, and give wise counsel. The ones we try to help, however, may choose not to listen. The closer we are to the one we are trying to help, the harder it is to watch them make decisions that may cause them harm. Yet God is teaching me to pray then let it go into his hands. Maybe for some that would be easier but for me, God has to pry my hands off one finger at a time. I’ve spent more time in prayer this last year than some previous ones combined. Much of that time has been surrendering my will and giving up the control which was really never mine to begin with.
After reading this story of Joseph and his brothers, I want to thank you, Lord, for your patience with me. Help me to be more Christ-like today. Help me to better teach, guide, and give wise counsel while also relinquishing those decisions to the individuals who must make them. Help me to surrender control to you. Help me to walk on in faith trusting you more deeply than ever before. Be my strength! Be my guide! Be my hope! Amen!