Joseph and Me: A With-God Life
What is a “With-God” Life?
A “With-God” life is a grace-filled life.
This week, SPL Kids Time is focused on studying Joseph. A key phrase “God was always with Joseph” is repeated throughout the lessons.
To help us better understand, let us look for a moment at the early days of Joseph’s life. (From Genesis 29-37)
Joseph is the firstborn son of the woman Jacob (his father) truly loves. He is Rachel’s firstborn. Joseph had sons with four women, but he loved Rachel the most. Jacob has 10 sons before Joseph is born.
Despite the fact that Jacob had 10 sons before Joseph, Joseph is special. Joseph is especially loved by his father, and his father makes no secret of his special love for his young son. Because of his great love for Joseph, Jacob gives Joseph an elaborate gift: the well-known “coat of many colors.”
Not surprisingly, Joseph’s brothers are quite jealous of him. How much pain must have occurred in Jacob’s home?
- Four women, each of whom give Jacob sons.
- Twelve sons and at least one daughter (one more son was born to Rachel after Joseph).
- One child clearly loved above the rest.
- The beloved mother’s death at the birth of the twelfth son.
As if that was not enough challenges, Joseph begins having strange dreams. In his dreams, his mother, father, and 11 brothers all bow down to him. And he does not keep these dreams to himself. He openly shares them with his family, and his brothers’ anger is stirred to a heightened level.
The brothers have had enough and decide to take matters into their own hands.
They throw Joseph into a pit then sell him as a slave to by-passers who carry him off to Egypt.
His brothers tear the coat which spoke of their father’s favor, dip it in the blood of an animal, and tell their father Joseph is dead.
At this point in the story, we do not see a whole lot in Joseph which is worthy of praise. He comes off like an immature kid with no control over his tongue and little common sense.
Before he is sold into slavery, we do not receive narrative about faithfulness to the Lord or of strong character. In the scriptures, there is nothing Joseph does to earn what is said about him in Genesis 39:2a:
“The Lord was with Joseph”
The Lord was with Joseph…
- Not because Joseph was especially good,
- Not because Joseph was especially faithful,
- Not because Joseph had merited some special favor in the eyes of God,
But nevertheless, the Lord was with Joseph.
Not because Joseph was faithful, but because God is faithful. (We will see later in the story how God’s faithfulness and the trials Joseph encounters leads to Joseph’s faithfulness.)
When I think about the with-God life, I think of grace.
My life has been marked as a with-God life. For whatever reason, God gave me a very early spiritual gift of faith – of deep assurance that God is good – that He is who He says He is – that His ways are true and best. It has only been recently, that I have truly seen this for what it must be: a pure gift of grace.
I later went on in life to try to earn God’s favor – to earn and achieve progress in the spirit through means of effort and of self-will. I believed God demanded as much from me. I did not recognize His gift as a gift.
I did not understand early in my life what is meant that God is with me.
At least in part, I thought it meant:
- He is always watching me to see when I fall short.
- I must work to earn His presence through my faithfulness and must work to maintain His presence.
- If I feel far from God it is because I have moved away from Him.
I did not realize His presence with me is grace. My perception of God (from a young age) has in large part been formed by my over-active guilty conscience and an unbalanced understanding of the scriptures. I have always been so hard on myself, and have expected nothing less from God, for He better than me can see all that is sinful within me.
Though it is true He knows me through and through (for better or worse), perhaps I have been wrong to believe all He sees in me is the depth of my sin.
Grace. Can we truly believe it?
I love the opening line of one of my favorite worship songs,
“Grace, what have you done?”
I hear it as an incredulous whisper:
“What have you done?”
“Grace, what have you done?”
“We are foolish. We are broken. We are evil through and through. What have you done?”
The song goes on:
“Grace, what have you done? Murdered for me on that cross. Accused, in absence of wrong. My sin washed away in Your blood. Too much to make sense of it all. I know that Your love breaks my fall. The scandal of grace, You died in my place so my soul will live.”
This weak, our message to the children is simple:
God was with Joseph.
God is with you. Always.
Each week during SPL Kids Worship, the kids turn on tea lights and pray through our hands-on prayer stations. We talk about why we light a candle: to remind us that Jesus, who is the light of the world, is always with us and always hears us when we pray.
My prayer for them this week, and my prayer for you, is that they will know and you will know God’s presence is grace. May His love for you light up all the shadows of darkness – even that darkness that comes from thoughts we have let plague us for far too long. May God have mercy on our children that this darkness may not so plague them.
Oh God, pour out Your love through us to our children and through our children into the world.
Next week, we will continue with the story of Joseph to see how God transforms him through trial and loneliness. Follow along each week for some personal enrichment and encouragement to help you walk alongside your children as they journey through the Bible during our weekly SPL Kids Time.