Thankful: God is in control

Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Please come near me,” and they came near. “I am Joseph, your brother,” he said, “the one you sold into Egypt. And now don’t be worried or angry with yourselves for selling me here, because God sent me ahead of you to preserve life…God sent me ahead of you to establish you as a remnant within the land and to keep you alive by a great deliverance.”

– Genesis 45:4-5, 7

Today, I am thankful that God is in control.

There are no surprises to God. He knows our future and the events that will take place to shape us into the people He created us to be. He weaves our lives together, and His plan extends from before time through eternity. God is in control, and He has an intricate plan to hold us and move us through any crisis.

The book of Genesis closes with the story of the life of Joseph. God gave Joseph the strength to endure extremely difficult circumstances. Joseph was betrayed by his brothers and sold to Midianite traders. He became a slave of the captain of Pharaoh’s guard in Egypt. Joseph was falsely accused of rape and then thrown into prison. He helped two of Pharaoh’s servants while there, interpreting their dreams, but then was forgotten. All together, Joseph was a slave and then prisoner for 13 years.

Despite the heartbreak, loneliness, sorrow and surrounding darkness, Joseph clung to His faith in God. He doggedly grasped the hope given to him in a boyhood dream, that God would elevate him as the leader of his family. Scripture tells us that God was with Joseph (Genesis 39:2-6, 21-23). When he was Potiphar’s slave, God blessed Joseph, and he was put in charge of the entire household. When Joseph was in prison, God granted him favor, and Joseph was given responsibility over all the prisoners. God never left, in the midst of crisis. God had Joseph right where he needed to be.

God eventually delivered Joseph and made him second in command of the most powerful country in the world. Directed by God, Joseph carried out a plan to save an entire nation from a devastating famine. So terrible was the drought that his brothers came from far away to buy food. Joseph’s dream came true as his brothers bowed low before him, not knowing that they were in the presence of the boy they had horrifically abandoned years earlier. God’s plan was even bigger than Joseph’s dream. He brought faithful Joseph through the dungeon to dominance in order to save God’s chosen people, secure His covenant promise with Abraham, and rescue countless people from starvation. Later, God would bring Joseph’s descendants, and the Hebrew people, out of Egypt in such a miraculous way that the entire world, from then until now, would be reminded that God is the One True God and there is no one mightier and greater than He.

Like Joseph, we won’t always understand when crisis comes and burdens hammer at our hearts. We may become dizzy as life spins around us and trip when the darkness closes in. But, we do not have to be defeated. The Almighty King of Kings is with us, and He has a plan. We must choose to trust Him when we cannot see the end of our story. Our God is in control.

Jackson’s Zoo

Ever since we visited the Potter Park Zoo in Springfield, Mo., earlier this summer, Jackson has poured over the zoo map he picked up there. The edges and folds have worn as he has explored it, played with it and shared it with many other people, describing our adventures there. He has spent many more hours playing with the zoo map than we did at the zoo.

Knowing how much he enjoys imagining going through the zoo and seeing the animals, I helped Jackson design a zoo of his own, with an accompanying zoo map.

We spent more than an hour finding animal pictures online together, with Jackson handpicking which species he would feature in his zoo. He decided where each exhibit would go and how people would want to walk around the zoo. He even specially chose animals for an interactive petting zoo.

This is the first draft of Jackson's Zoo. We plan on adding a train, bathrooms and restaurants on the next map!

Jackson could hardly wait as the map printed, and jumped up and down when it was finished! He made his own zoo!!

As I was finishing up a few things on the computer while he began playing with his new zoo map, Jackson disappeared upstairs. After a few minutes I heard him bound down the stairs, jumping the last step and landing with a thud.

“Mommy,” Jackson said, holding his old Potter Park Zoo map, “I don’t need this anymore. I’m going to put it in the trash can.”

I was floored! This map had traveled, literally, everywhere with him. I would daresay it was one of his most treasured possessions, which he carefully placed on a shelf each night in such a way that it was one of the first things he would see every morning. And, now, after having created a new zoo map, he was ready to let it go?

I gave my permission for Jackson to throw away the old map, and the deal was done. He hasn’t referred to it since.

I don’t know many people who can move forward so wholeheartedly and decisively!

We each have dreams and plans that we pour our lives into, designing and crafting each aspect. So what happens when God diverts the path in which we have invested so much of ourselves and gives us a new map to follow? What is our reaction?  Our response may include some sort of tantrum, pity party, intense cross-examination or initial flat out refusal of God’s course correction. Maybe we move forward with God, but we keep looking back at the past and dwelling on what “might have been.” Or, perhaps we only halfway accept God’s dream for our lives, keeping pieces of our heart just for ourselves and what we want.

It is hard when God asks us to embrace His life and His plan. When God’s will goes a different direction than where we have been, we must leave our former life behind and run after Him.

Give me one pure and holy passion.
Give me one magnificent obsession
Give me one glorious ambition for my life
To know and follow hard after You

To know and follow hard after you
To grow as your disciple in your truth
This world is empty, pale and poor
Compared to knowing you, my Lord
Lead me on and I will run after you
Lead me on and I will run after you

Listen to this song

God has definitely guided me to places I thought I’d never go and given me roles I wouldn’t have chosen for myself. Life doesn’t always turn out the way we plan. But, when we follow hard after Jesus and make Him our passion, life is incredibly sweet. When we walk hand-in-hand with our Savior, experiencing the fullness of His love and peace, I guarantee there is nowhere else you would rather be.

Pitch the old map. Accept God’s personally crafted plan for your life.

You will never regret it!

Jackson and his new zoo map!