We said that last week would be our only funeral service...that we were not going to stay "down" even though is it tough and emotional right now. Everyone is at a different place in their journey...everyone is processing things differently. The neat thing is watching the people of God come together and encourage each other.
We gave everyone the calendar for the month today...told them of the process we are going through as we close...AND I told them how much it speaks to their character that they came back this week...it says a lot about the people there today...that they want to finish well.
I preached on "Attitude" this morning...and we looked at the life of Joseph...Joseph was given a dream by God...a very clear dream that his brothers and parents would bow to him and his leadership. Joseph HAD to have been VERY EXCITED about his dream...I imagine that he had picture of what that might be like and how cool it would be to get to that point. I compared that to our dream of planting a sustainable church is South Bend...one that would passionately pursue the heart of God...one that would love people to Jesus...one that would be IN the community...and that has been an exciting vision that God has given us.
HERE IS THE TRICKY PART...look what happened to Joseph...think of his journey...his brothers want to KILL HIM...and they instead choose to sell him off! (Which was a blessing when you think about it...Joseph was probably devastated when his brothers sold him...but his life was actually saved in that moment!) Then he worked his way into running a leader of Egypt's home...only to have that taken from him by the owners lying wife...THEN he goes to jail...works his way up to being in charge of things...helps out a guy in jail...only to have that guy FORGET ABOUT HIM...Think of what Joseph must have been feeling...how far away did his dream have to feel at that point.
HERE IS THE THING...Even in the darkness...even in the hopelessness that one day his dream would happen...EVEN THEN...Joseph did the right thing over and over...he trusted God...he lived his life with integrity. Who would have blamed Joseph for having an affair with the leaders wife? Really? Didn't he "deserve" some "happiness?" BUT...Joseph knew better...he knew that he needed to do right by GOD...not by his own personal feelings ...
Then there was breakthrough...The guy finally remembered Joseph and the LEADER OF THE COUNTRY put Joseph in charge...in charge of everything...THEN...his brothers show up...I wonder what that moment was like for Joseph...when he saw his family again...when they finally bowed to him...finally he had his dream come true...only the journey was REALLY tough...LOTS of detours...but all of those detours led him to the place where he saved his family.
For us...the message is that God NEVER has a PLan B...he ALWAYS has us where he needs us...sadly at times this means that we experience things that don't seem to make sense...times where like Joseph we have our dreams shattered...here is the question though...someday when we are able to see more clearly...someday when we see Jesus face to face and we are able to understand more of the big picture...will we see that the pain led us to a different path...a better path for more people...that our pain was actually our and someone else's gain...to encourage more people...to see more people come to him...I'm staking my life on that truth...