As the ancient International Highway cut its way though Israel, it divided three ways through the Mount Carmel range. The eastern fork passed through a valley named after the town of Dothan.
On the day Joseph’s brothers dropped him in the pit at Dothan, neither they nor Joseph gave one thought about how that decision would affect eternity. It was all about the here and now. But in hindsight, both Joseph and his brothers saw God’s hand in the events and interpreted them accordingly.
Hindsight provides insight. It always can.
In our lives we can get so caught up in today’s issues that they blind us to tomorrow’s purpose for them.
Interestingly, Dothan appears only twice in the Bible. In both places, we learn how to see near and far in our spiritual lives.
As we look around at our world, it’s easy to feel like the wheels are coming off. Morality is optional. Truth is relative. Disease runs rampant. And God stands by and allows it all.
Critics of Christianity point to the problems in the world as proof of God’s absence or apathy. On the other hand, some Christians get in the game and point to God’s judgment as the reason for terrorism, Isis, and hurricanes.
The problem is, we want God’s acts of judgment to stop at property lines (usually ours). We prefer clear delineations, just as God made in the plagues on the land of Egypt in the book of Exodus.
But it doesn’t work that way. Those plagues are a picture of God’s plan for tomorrow.
Sometimes it seems the Lord leads us into a life that can’t possibly be His will. What started with such promise has become such a challenge. It’s tough to know what to do next.
What do you do when the life God has promised you looks nothing like the life God has given you?
God had promised a son to Sarai and her husband, Abram. And yet at the same time, God prevented conception. This is the will of God? Go figure.
What God said is a lesson we need to hear.
When I took a survey of my blog readers in 2014, the results of that survey were very telling of who you are. For example, I learned that most subscribers signed up for one of two reasons.
Most of you subscribed for the convenience of getting my posts automatically sent to you. Others sign up for my free e-book I give to all who subscribe.
But you also received something else when you subscribed.
I prayed for you.
Everybody likes to be an exception to the rule. No exceptions. This paradox seems especially true for individuals who are exceptional. Like Solomon. (And like you and me.)
“I have given you a wise and discerning heart,” God told Solomon, “so that there has been no one like you before you, nor shall one like you arise after you” (1 Kings 3:12). Talk about exceptional!
And yet Solomon became the exception to the wisdom of Solomon. How?
It started with two small compromises that we can avoid.
Sometimes the only thing worse than God refusing to give us what we want occurs when He gives us want we want. Many years ago, our young daughter had only one thing on her mind.
She knew we planned an Easter egg hunt, and she asked if she could eat lots of candy on Easter. We told her no, but she kept after us, day after day. Easter came and she continued to plead. So we decided to let her learn by experience what she refused to learn by instruction. We let her eat as many little chocolate eggs as she wanted.
That night was pitiful.
“Oooooh, mommy, my tummy hurts!” She had learned by experience what she refused to learn by instruction. My toddler’s lesson gets repeated in the life of most of us adults.
But it doesn’t have to.
Which seems worse: refusing to follow God though He promises success, or stubbornly pressing forward without Him? Sometimes it’s tough to tell the difference.
God’s people swung on both extremes of this pendulum in the course of one day.
What their experience teaches us can guide us as we anticipate the future God has for us.
There is only one way you will know God’s will for you this year. Relatively speaking, that’s the easy part. But once you know it, then comes the tough assignment: choosing to walk in it.
From the first verse of Scripture, God revealed how the Earth set the stage for the divine drama of history to take place (Gen. 1:1). From its formless, void beginning, the Lord fashioned the Earth with His intention in its details. From this ground, God made physical people spiritual beings in His image.
Finding and following God’s will was no different for Adam and Eve than it is for us.
We have the same problem they did.
Years ago some American missionaries stayed in our home. They told us about an animated evangelist they saw try to communicate to a Russian audience—through a less-than-animated translator.
The evangelist began, “Okay folks, tonight I want you to tell the Holy Spirit something! I want you to say, ‘Yeeessss!’” (pronounced with three syllables).
But instead of translating the passionate “Yeeessss!” the interpreter flatly translated, “Da.” And when the evangelist hollered, “Now, give God a hand!” the interpreter translated the words literally—and the audience stared at one another in confusion. (“Give Him what?”)
The words were translated, sure, but their meaning failed to connect.
Jesus, on the other hand, was a perfect translator. Here’s how.
On a wintry day in Jerusalem, Jesus walked in Solomon’s Colonnade—the long, covered, columned portico on the east side of the Temple—overlooking the Kidron Valley.
The conversation Jesus had that day occurred at Hanukkah—a celebration the Jews referred to as “the Feast of the Dedication” (John 10:22).
The feast had historical significance, which heightened the passion of those in Jerusalem. They encircled Jesus to ask Him a simple question.
His reply gave them more than they bargained for.
Today, some say Jesus never claimed to be God. But His words during that Hanukkah left little doubt.