Friday, July 25, 2008

Chapter 47 - The long lean

A few days ago I wrote about the way Joseph showed such a wise understanding of cause and effect in this chapter. In Genesis 47 he laid out an interesting model of what it means to plan for and experience consequences. The clearest example being that he didn't just give the grain away to the people that needed it. He allowed them to learn the consequence of not planning during seven years of fruitfulness by charging them for their grain during the famine. But that's not what I want to talk about.

I'd like to highlight a handful of words at the very end of the chapter.

The scene is pretty simple. We're told, "When the time drew near for Israel to die, he called for his son Joseph." Israel is in the process of dying and calls his most trustworthy son forward to give him his last request. This doesn't necessarily feel like a death bed moment, but you definitely get the sense that Israel's body is making peace with the years that have piled up one after another like cars on the highway.

That reality is clearest with the sentence that ends the chapter, "And Israel worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff."

It's possible that it is meant to serve as simply a descriptive way to end the scene. But to me, there is more there. To me, it serves as a perfect example of when we should worship. Israel may not have been moments from death, but he was tired. For years he had mourned the supposed death of his son which is exhausting. For months he had feared losing Benjamin as the brothers went back and forth seeking grain from Egypt and a ruler they did not recognize. For days if not weeks, he had marched his family to Egypt, uprooting his life at a time when most of us would expect to be retired.

He is old.
He is feeble.
He is worshipping.

That is beautiful. In the midst of his tiredness. In the midst of his slow crawl toward the end of his chapter, he reserves the strength to do what matters most. He worshiped. Even "as he leaned on the top of his staff." Even as he discussed where he wanted to be buried. Even while he planned to die, he worshipped.

I want to live that sentence. I want to take it and make it mine. I want it to read, "And Jon worshipped as he wrote a blog. And Jon worshipped as he filled out his time sheet at work. And Jon worshipped as everything fell apart."

That is my new prayer. That is my new thought and I hope it's one that speaks to you too.

We will all have moments where we need to lean on our staffs. I pray that you'll remember:

"And Walt worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff."
"And Jennifer worshiped as she leaned on the top of her staff."
"And Amy worshiped as she leaned on the top of her staff."

16 comments:

Andy Wood said...

He sure has come a long way from the guy who used hook or crook (to coin a staff-type phrase) to get what he wanted in his early years, hasn't he?

I'm with you, Jon. So many people I have known grew more and more bitter and cynical as they aged. I want to be remembered for the heart of of worship and gratitude I had.

Jenn said...

I'm sure you didn't do this on purpose, but it was very fitting that, of all the random names you could have picked, mine was one . . . I need to worship.

Kristin Zuvich said...

Thank you for posting your studies on Joseph thus far. They have been challenging and eye opening.

Kristin Zuvich said...

p.s.

Haha.

And amen to the "and Jon worshipped as he wrote his blog and punched his time sheet" statement.

Amen, indeed.

Sullins' Spot said...

This is an awesome post! A friend just sent me this post on your blog after reading my blog about worship, yesterday! The most awesome part...my name is Amy and I needed to hear that! Isn't that just the way God works?! :O)

Candace Jean July 16 said...

I am not Walt, Amy, or Jennifer. I am, however, feeling on the old and feeble side. God is the only crutch that can't be knocked out from under us. Thank you for your inspiration, Jon.

Jamie at Rambling Rose said...

Wow. I want that, too.
And Jamie worshiped while she fixed dinner for her family... Jamie worshiped while she did a photo session...

Thanks for another awesome post.

Dustin said...

I am tired. I am confused and lost. This past week, things that I thought were certain were taken from me. Things that I hadn't that I deserved, but that God had given me... and I had become used to. Things that affect other people and I am still swimming in the consequences.

I don't know where God wants me or what ministry he wants me to pursue now. I'd love to talk to you about ministry in advertising if it is at all possible. God has long ago put that on my heart and I can look up through the settling dust and see a new path now.

The crazy thing though, when the rug was pulled out from under me, is that I didn't get angry. I didn't cry or throw things. I felt scared and I retreated to God. I don't feel like I rested on my staff, but more like I assumed the fetal position and hid under God's shadow. I plan to stay there for a while too. To dive deep into his word and into communication with Him while I figure out what He wants me to do next. Just an interesting perspective...

Harold said...

Appropriate post, funny how your blog is resonating with current situations in my life.

What is worship? A definition of worship is "all that we are responding to all that He is."

And that is everyday. If we are weak, He is strong.

Thank you for the reminder.

Donna said...

sigh......

worship.......

sigh.......

Kendra said...

Thanks. I have been reading your blog for a few days now and am learning to worship as I lean. I nearly lost my husband in a motorcycle accident a month ago. Worshiping and leaning isn't easy but it's all I've got. Keep writing. I need to read it.

angelajo1208 said...

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

woah. that hit me hard.
i should be doing more for God. There's no time to spare..

WORSHIP is the answer and I shall lean on top my my staff!
THANK YOU

Spherical said...

Prov. 1:7 states, "the first step in learning is bowing down to God..." (TMSG) That says it all. It has to START with God, and not just end there. Israel had to wrestle with God, and so do I. Inevitably, I end up in the same place, tired, sometimes confused, and worshipping God.

jenn3 said...

Awesome post. I want to live that sentence too.

Sarah Lewie said...

Jon, that is beautiful. Thanks. It's hard for me to remember to worship in the mundane parts of life.

...filing...
...data entry...
...checking out at Wal-Mart...
...losing my mind...

Thanks again.