Tuesday, September 16, 2014

details

The other day Brody and I were talking about Joseph and his cool-kid multicolored coat.

I'm not sure how we began talking about the story of Joseph. It probably began as a discussion about a jacket I was trying to get Brody to like or some multi-colored cereal. Or poop. It probably began and ended with poop, actually. So many conversations in this household do these days.

Anyway, it was one of those "teachable moments" you're supposed to jump on as a parent. Or so I've heard.

I was reminding Brody about the story of Joseph, so I began with the coat and the honor that came with it, talking about how his brothers were jealous. And then Brody asked, "Who found him in the hole?" (He has heard the story before...thank you Jesus Storybook Bible and Second Baptist childcare workers.)

To his question, my brain responded, "Wait, was there a hole?" So I proceeded to skip that fuzzy part of the story before I falsified information. Instead, I jumped straight to a few nice punchlines I remembered from the story: 1) God used terrible plans of man to bring Himself glory through His own plan for Joseph; AND 2) Joseph forgave his brothers for the terrible things they tried to do to him.

Meanwhile, Brody noticed I didn't directly answer his question about who helped Joseph out of the pit in the ground (very perceptive, this child). He asked again and I said we'd get back to that part later.  Then I continued to be disappointed in myself for not even remembering that part of the story.

Allow me to divert from the Joseph story for a minute. Surely you have noticed that when Jesus was questioned or tempted, He used direct quotes from God's Word to set people straight. For example, "Have you not read in the Scriptures..." (See Matthew 19:3-6 and virtually all over the New Testament for examples of his use of Scripture; See Matthew 4:1-10 for His use of Scripture in overcoming temptation.)

What if Eve had done used the Truth (which she had been told directly, literally BY GOD) when she was tempted? What if, when the great deceiver tried to confuse her and tempt her into disobedience she had said, "No, you crazy serpent, that is NOT what God said. He actually said this..."

Here's what: Women wouldn't have to feel like they are dying when giving birth, for one.

But for Eve, wouldn't it have helped her see the difference between what it meant to obey God's commands and what it meant to disobey (and lose everything that was awesome and perfect)? Wouldn't it have helped her live freely according to God's promise to remain in the perfect Garden? Wouldn't she have been steadfast in obedience to the Creator of everything?

Let's go back to the Joseph story...What am I missing when I don't know the Bible as well as I should, when I have not "hidden thy word in my heart that I might not sin against you"? (Psalm 119:11)

Sure, when I only know the "Sunday School version" of childhood Bible stories (which I have heard hundreds of times and for which I am thankful, by the way) I'm missing His commandments about what to do and what not to do. I'm missing the specifics of His Truths that are laid out for me in Scripture. If only I'd take the time to study, dissect, pray about, and meditate on them!

However, even more than the details of God's commandments, I'm missing the intricate details that bind His stories together and make them turn out exactly how He planned.

I am missing the important twists and turns that God provided as an escape and propulsion to power for Joseph, the ways He orchestrated details to work them together for good, the way He sent Joseph into the King's court at exactly the right moment to interpret a dream that no one else could, a gift that only Joseph could provide.

Or, in the story of Moses, I have--until now--missed the way God placed Pharoah's daughter out by the Nile at the precise moment Moses was floating by in his mom's basket, the way He placed Moses' sister in the perfect position to help choose a Hebrew woman (his biological mother) to nurse Moses, the way Moses received special privileges as the adopted heir to a throne, and the way those special privileges allowed him to save an entire people group.

I heard and read every one of these stories in Sunday School growing up, and I have even read them myself several times over as an adult. But my depth of knowledge (Boom: Teacher terminology...Who said all those meetings are a waste of time?!)  has been incredibly shallow.

Case in point. My version of Joseph's story often read like this: Joseph had a cool, colorful coat and his brothers were jealous. They tried to get rid of him. He then became the most powerful man in the world and saved his brothers' lives. Take that, brothers. (Cue evil laugh.)

But there's a lot more to this story--and every other Sunday School story--and I can't expect others to spoon-feed me the details. That's my own job.

God is in the details; therefore, I must know them.