As soon as Joseph saw his brothers he recognized them, but he pretended to be a stranger and spoke harshly to them (Genesis 42:7).
My kids’ school has a weekly chapel service. It’s the real deal, not chapel light. The kids who help lead the service wear vestments. They say “The Lord be with you,” and get a resounding “And also with you” in return.
As a second grader my daughter served as the reader, or “lector,” in a chapel service. Before the service started I said “Anna – today your Mom and I get to sit in the pew and you get to be up front in a robe.” She loved that.
Last week we attended chapel, not because we had a child involved in the liturgy, but because it was the week of our daughter’s birthday. I’ll spare you the details, but recognizing student birthdays is a standard feature of the otherwise formal service. As it happened, on this day in chapel one of the third grade classes was doing a dramatic rendering of the story of Joseph. A narrator read the story while other muted children acted out the various scenes with sweeping gestures.
The entire Joseph story was done in about ten minutes. The whole thing: Brotherly animosity, the sale to Egypt-bound merchants, the prison detour, the dreams and Joseph’s hero-making interpretations. All of it, ten minutes tops.
I love stories that resolve quickly, tensions that melt like cheese in a microwave, hostilities that soften with one good drenching of tears, painful memories that fade entirely leaving barely recognizable images on the mind. Broken pieces and loose ends bother me. Waiting an entire summer to find out what really happened in May’s season finale is irritating. Give me enough tension to make things interesting – and then resolve it. And soon.
Sadly, the Joseph story we have in our Bibles is not a ten minute story. It takes more than ten minutes to read it all, and it certainly took more than ten minutes to live it. The Joseph story is a story of resolution delayed.
The seventeen year old boy doesn’t serve Pharaoh until he’s thirty. Falsely accused, Joseph the prisoner sits for years until he is vindicated by interpreting Pharaoh’s dreams. After seven year of abundance, Joseph’s brothers are driven to Egypt by the famine. Joseph does not immediately embrace them. He imprisons one of them, sends the rest of them home, frames them by planting his own silver in their luggage.
Joseph seems torn. He wants to come clean, reveal his identity, make things right – but he also seems to want payback. Resolution does not come quickly or easily. But it does come.
Your life is not a ten minute story. Perhaps you could tell a ten minute version, but it wouldn’t be quite right. And this may be a day when you are yearning for resolution, waiting for something to be made right, restored to wholeness, put back together. Our God is a master of plot resolution, but to our dismay God never hurries.
The Joseph story reminds us that the plot will eventually resolve – and very likely in ways that surprise us. When God’s hand authors your story, twists and disruptions in the plot will be made smooth. All things resolve, but not quickly. Maybe not today, and certainly not in ten minutes.
In what way are you seeking or waiting on resolution in your life?
Gracious God, there are loose ends and broken pieces scattered about my life. My efforts to piece them together never seem to take. The wholeness I make on my own is short lived. Enter my life today, and bring all things to into harmony with your plan. Resolve as you will, and make me strong in the waiting. Amen.