I'm Pushing Pause
This is a Time Out. It's kind of a lengthy one...but it is really important.
For just a few minutes I want to consider the importance of mistakes and defining moments before we continue our journey with Joseph.
Last week I went to one of my daughter's basketball games.
In a very intense moment of the game, just after a turnover, Meg's coach called for a time out. He waited until he had the complete focus of the five players who had come off the floor and then he said, "I'm not worried about you making mistakes. I know you are going to make mistakes. It's what you do after the mistake that I care about...It's how you recover."
I watched that moment from the stands and knew I had just been taught a lesson that was profound. What was true in a basketball game was also true in life.
The moments after the mistake, the way in which we recover, can often become the defining moments of our lives.
I hung the quote in my basement.
I want my kids to know this is what I believe.
They will probably make a mistake or two...In fact, I know they will. But I also know that a loving Father in Heaven prepared a way for them to recover from those mistakes by providing a Savior. I believe in the power of the atonement. I believe in second chances.
The reading the past few days has been filled with mistakes. Life altering mistakes. Deceiving. Adultery. Stealing. Murder. Within the reading I see the wickedness of our time. Amidst the wickedness my heart longs for someone to choose good.
Through the story of Jacob's life I am learning a lesson that is powerful.
It is a lesson on making mistakes. And a lesson on how to recover.
Alfred Edersheim explains that Jacob's biggest mistake was that he tried to go before God. There were dangers and difficulties that arose every time Jacob made that decision in his life. If we read carefully we come to understand that God's dealings with Jacob show how mercifully, how wisely, and yet how holily He knew to remove these hindrances out of the way, and to uproot those sins from Jacob's heart and his life.
Jacob's story is a familiar one. "Such hours come to most of us, when it almost seems as if necessity obliged and holy wisdom prompted us to accomplish, in our own strength, that which, nevertheless, we should leave in God's hand...here faith is the only true remedy: faith, which leaves God to carry out His own purposes, content to trust Him absolutely, and to follow Him withersoever He leadeth...God's way is never through the thicket of cunning and devices." (Edersheim)
One of the most powerful lessons we learn from Jacob is that that every choice will eventually bring a consequence.
It is not a coincidence that Jacob, who dressed in goat skin to fool his father, was deceived by his father-in-law to marry the wrong woman on his wedding night.
That next morning Jacob, who once deceived, learned a powerful lesson on how it feels to be deceived.
Today I have reread Jacob's story.
I have begun to realize that the paths we walk in this life are not unknown or without design. Even the detours can be navigated to direct our path back toward the destination the Lord has in mind for us.
I have marked the moments when Jacob relied on his own strength, understanding, and devices, rather than upon the Lord's. I have tried to learn from his journey.
I want to be more willing to let the Lord lead.
To be patient, rather than to control my destiny by my own strength.
To wrestle with the Lord through prayer, and in so doing to recognize that I have been blessed, that I have enough. (Genesis 33:11)
Most importantly I have learned that the Lord knows that I, like Jacob, will make mistakes. What He watches for is what I do after that mistake...how I recover. In those moments will I be willing to wrestle with the Savior, to use the atonement? Am I willing to let Him change me for good?
There will come a moment in each of our journeys where we will have an opportunity to bury what has been for so long holding us back. (see Genesis 35:4)
In that moment we can choose the Lord first, foremost, above all.
If we do, those moments have the potential to become the defining moments of our lives.
I am learning that the Old Testament does not shy away from showing us the painful mistakes of others. It does not shield us from the stories of those whose choices destroyed their lives. My heart has broken over the choices of Lot's daughters, Dinah, Tamar, Simeon and Levi, to name a few. By the same token, it also teaches us that our God believes in second chances. And even third chances. In moving past the mistake. In becoming who He knows we can become.
In a day where we are surrounded by the devastating consequences such as the mistakes we have spent this week reading about, I am grateful for a scriptural record that can show us the consequences of a choice ––whether for good or for evil.
I am grateful for the stories of men such as Jacob. Stories that teach us to learn from our mistakes. To believe in second chances. To rely wholly upon the Lord. I have great admiration for Jacob because he walked the same test of life that we all do, and he found the strength within to rise above.
Now, back to the story of Joseph. Don't forget to comment on the previous blog... I can't wait to read your insights!