Have you ever decided to do something, that even though you thought your reasoning was sound, turned out almost the opposite of what you intended? Some of the greatest advances in science and technology were total and utter failures at what the original ideas were. Why do we think that we know the only “right” way to do things? In our journey through this life we encounter many different paths on which to walk. Is your sense of direction always better than someone else’s? Sometimes the long way around is the way where we find our true calling.
In our reading from Genesis last week we know that Joseph, already his father’s favorite, told his brothers about his dreams. They resented his visions. Even his father thought that he was being prideful. When he was sent to help his brothers in the pasture they took what appears to be awful, jealous steps to make sure this never could happen. They sold their brother into slavery. Other than their original plan to kill him, what could possibly be worse? They broke their father’s heart and told him robbers had killed him.
Fast forward to this week’s passage. All of a sudden Joseph, a man with enormous power, is meeting with some foreigners seeking help after falling on hard times. He recognized his backstabbing jealous brothers before they recognized him. Is this the time when he would get his revenge. After all he was a slave for a long time before his gifts were recognized and he became supreme advisor to Pharaoh. He truly did have the gift of sight because he realized that GOD had put this plan into action and it was the only way his people would survive. His misfortune and his brothers’ jealousy had come together to save a part of GOD’s people. They not only received forgiveness when they didn’t deserve it, but a way through a famine that would have brought desolation and death. Now reunion, rebirth.
Our gospel reading from Matthew shows how even Jesus’ plan was sometimes rerouted. Jesus, upon being appealed to by a Canaanite woman for divine help, chose not to respond. When she persisted He told her that he had come to minister to the lost of Israel. She still persisted. He told her that it was not right to give to others what was for the children of Israel. She said that even though a dog cannot eat from the children’s plate they can still scoff up the crumbs that fall to the floor. In that moment her faith in an unknown GOD was more powerful than the faith of those who had been sent a great teacher and leader in Christ. GOD’s plan would redeem all who call on Christ. What a lesson!
In Romans we read that although we are sometimes disobedient and follow our own flawed plans, we are given mercy through the grace of GOD. Through that saving grace we can become beacons and expose the world to the wonder and beauty of a loving and merciful GOD. We on our own will fall over and over again. Like a child learning to walk, we need to hold our Father’s hands and get up to follow in His footsteps.
Last month we rented a movie to show after a workday here at the church. We watched The Shack. Without spoiling the movie, I will say it took some difficult issues in life and gave a different perspective on how we deal with them and how GOD deals with them. I came away with a renewed faith in GOD’s plan to work in our lives whatever the circumstances. Now these circumstances in the movie were quite severe. Some people had a problem with how things were portrayed but remember that this is fiction and movies are entertainment. For me it reminded me that GOD has a plan and that we as humans tend to alter that plan. GOD still works toward the planned outcome.
In another example, we set a destination in our GPS and as we travel we decide to take a side trip to a restaurant or to see some sight along the way. Our GPS still is working to get us to our original destination and continues to direct us towards that goal. We ignore those instructions or turn it off until we complete our altered plan. When we return toward our original destination we are taking a totally different route but still working toward getting there. GOD sets a plan for our life but we change direction over and over again. He keeps working to get us toward that plan no matter how many times we try to turn away. Don’t turn that GPS (GOD’S PLANNED SERVICE) off.
So step out and start something new. Although you may have a specific plan for how things will go, don’t be surprised when your path splits and you go off in another direction. GOD is at work in all of us. The wind may blow to and fro but we will end up wherever we are supposed to be. Trust in GOD. You will never know your true potential until you let GOD’s plan develop. Even as we may think we’ve reached our destination there may be more in our future. I’m sure Joseph overseeing all of Egypt and planning ahead for the years of famine seemed like a great accomplishment. GOD’s plan was even more. He was able to protect his family’s future and save GOD’s chosen for another day in life’s journey. You think you have good plans? Just like doing a jigsaw puzzle. You work on one part and the whole picture will eventually be revealed. Only GOD sees the whole picture. You can only see it if you keep working to complete His plan for your life.
So I ask again, “Who’s plan is it?” Our Almighty Father has a plan, and His plan includes us!
Let us pray: Father please take our plans and weave your divine wisdom into them. Although we may not always see your way, lead us onward toward the glorious day, when we can hear you say well done good and faithful servant. Enable us to hear the Holy Spirit urge us along. Help us to discern it’s quiet whispers and heed the loud reminders. Not that way but this way. You alone know the plan. Help us complete our part. Amen.
Sermon preached by Jon Case, Moderator, Canton Community Baptist Church, Canton, CT, Sunday, August 20, 2017.