Tell the Lord the following as you focus on His presence. You may want to say it several times:
You are my God, and I will praise You;
You are my God, and I will exalt You. (Psalm 118:28)
By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons, and worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff.
22 By faith Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions concerning the burial of his bones.
23 By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.
24 By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. 25 He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. 27 By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible.
By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible.
Baggage and Blessings
One place our faith is often tested is in our families. We know that the best and the worst – even the most painful of our family experiences become part of who we are. It follows that the more we know about our families, the more we know about ourselves.
It takes courage to look squarely and honestly at our family connections and faith to believe that God had a plan in placing us in our particular family. Yet once we choose to embrace our past and believe, we can begin to recognize His plan in shaping us and molding us through these connections.
We begin to see more clearly His desire to redeem even the worst of our pain by using it for good. We can leave the “baggage” while we embrace “our reward.”
If we let fear cause us to ignore the truth about our past, we will end up like Miss Havisham from Charles Dickens’s novel Great Expectations. The daughter of a wealthy man, she received a letter at 8:40 a.m. on her wedding day, saying that her husband-to-be was not coming.
She stopped all clocks in the house at the precise time the letter arrived and spent the rest of her life in her bridal dress (which eventually turned yellow), and wearing only one shoe (since she had not yet put on the other one at the time of the disaster).
Even as an old lady she remained crippled by the weight of that crushing blow. It was as if “everything in the room and house had stopped.” She chose to ignore the truth about her past and it crushed her present and her future.
Moses’ life had more than its share of pain and failure. After being raised in a wealthy, privileged home, he murdered a man, lost everything, and spent the next forty years of his life in obscurity in the desert.
It is likely that in the desert he was both hardened to the challenges of austerity and, at the same time, his explosive temper was soften. It is in the wilderness that by faith he “sees him who is invisible” and hears God’s invitation to do something that will be a blessing to many. Those parts of his past that were darkest become part of the redemptive story.
Joseph also experiences a needed change in his character before he can join in the redemptive story. It is his strained relationship with his brothers and his close relationship to his father that gets him tossed into the pit and left for dead.
It is his relationship with Potiphar’s wife that causes him to be thrown into prison. But when all is said and done, Joseph recognizes that these connections are part of Gods plan. “What you meant for evil, God used for good,” he tells the brothers. In doing so, he sets aside the “baggage” of his family linage and embraces what God can do with it.
Many in Joseph’s place many might have chosen to reject their family – refusing to think about it. But Joseph not only sees it but embraces it as part of the plan. He chooses to believe that God will use even the darkness to fulfil His promise. Joseph is correct – God does just that.
So it is with modern men and women of faith. They pick up the challenge of examining their family connections so that they might both leave its baggage behind and embrace the promises ahead.
Questions to Consider
- How do you feel about examining your family background?
- What baggage might you need to leave behind from your upbringing?
- What blessing might you be offered coming from the failure and pain of your past?
Lord Jesus, set me free to be the person you have destined me to be. Stir up in me the faith to leave behind the “baggage” of my family and take on those things you have taught me. Help me to discern your hand at work in and through my life, both in the past and the future. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Rev. James R. Needham, PhD, MDiv