For as much as we like to look at the work God has done, do we also recognize him as the God who rests—as the God who knows the value and necessity of rest? In our working lives, no matter what we do, do we value our own rest? Do we prioritize it, giving it equal respect as our work? I confess not being very good at this myself. Yet Genesis cements rest into the fabric of creation’s rhythms. Thank the Lord for that!
In the last couple of days, I have been reflecting with you on how the “frame” of Scripture helps us understand the Bible, and therefore our lives, more completely. In yesterday’s devotion, we noted how both the first creation in Genesis 1-2 and the new creation in Revelation 21-22 underscore the importance of the created world to God. And if God cares so much about creation, then certainly we should as well. Today, I want to consider the role of human beings in both creation stories.
If we frame the biblical story with these verses and what follows, we will understand just how much God cares for his creation, including but not only human beings… The more we take seriously the Bible’s own frame, the more we will understand that this world matters, not just to us, but to God. God is not just in the business of getting human beings to heaven when we die. Rather, God wants the world he created and its inhabitants to flourish as much as possible.
I believe that Christ died so that I might be forgiven and rose so that I might enter into the life of God. No events in history have a greater bearing on my life than the death and resurrection of Jesus. However, when I framed the biblical story mainly by the death-bringing events of Genesis 3 and the eternal-life-giving events of the Gospels, I missed much of the story of Scripture… My frame limited my vision, which also limited the way I lived each day.
Last Friday, I told you the story of the naming of my son, Nathan. His name, which in Hebrew means “he has given,” represents God’s grace given to my wife and me after a long season of infertility. When Nathan was about a year old, Linda and I began to think about having another child. Given how long it had taken for us to get pregnant with Nathan and how much medical help we required, we assumed that it might be several years before we had a second child, if we were able to do so at all.
Joseph named his second son Ephraim, explaining, “For God has made me fruitful in the land of my misfortunes.” The name “Ephraim” is rather like the Hebrew word meaning “made fertile” or “made fruitful.” This name represented God’s grace to Joseph that came in the form of astounding fruitfulness in Egypt… I’m struck by the last few words in Joseph’s explanation of Ephraim’s name. He could have stopped at “For God has made me fruitful.” Instead, however, he added “in the land of my misfortunes.”
In yesterday’s devotion, we looked at how the name “Manasseh” represented God’s grace to Joseph. A name that meant something like “made me forget” pointed to God’s grace that enabled Joseph to “forget” the suffering of his youth. He could still remember the facts, but he remembered them without bitterness or hatred… Today, I thought I’d share with you how the name of my own firstborn represents God’s grace to my wife and me.
Joseph named his sons Manasseh and Ephraim. These are Hebrew, not Egyptian names, a fact that shows Joseph’s desire to keep his sons connected to their religious and cultural heritage. Yet Joseph chose these names not simply because they were Hebrew or because he liked their sound. Both names represent God’s grace in a particular way. Today, we’ll examine Manasseh. Later we’ll focus on Ephraim.
Today, we wrap up our short series of reflections on success, based on the story of Joseph in Genesis 39. As you may recall, yesterday, we focused on Joseph’s success as a manager in prison, considering how we might deal with success that we never sought or wanted. In this devotion, I want to share a personal example with you of how I have tried to be a faithful steward of unwanted success.
Joseph gave himself fully to the lowly, unwanted job of running the jail as the top prisoner. You and I will probably never be in a situation exactly like that of Joseph. At least I hope not. But it sometimes happens in life and work that we are successful in things we did not seek or even desire. We are given opportunity and authority in an area that we’d never have chosen for ourselves… The example of Joseph encourages us to be faithful stewards of all that has been entrusted to us, even that which we’d rather not have in our care.