God Will Visit You!

Paved Road

I never will forget the first time I was in an airplane. I was barely a teenager when I took my first flight from Central Florida to Atlanta. What struck me most was the perspective of being so far above my home town. I could see all kinds of places that I had seen from ground level and the change in perspective changed how I thought of those places.

That’s the advantage of perspective. You can see things you would have missed up close.

Now, imagine you could see time in the same way. What if you were able to “see” clearly the results, the consequences, of every choice you made before you made them? That would be really cool! Now, what if I told you there was Someone Who could do that for you? Hey, it’s not fair if you guess what I’m going to say next!

Seriously, we all have heard that the Christian faith teaches that our God is omniscient. Big word with a big meaning. It means He knows everything. He sees further, and knows the end from the beginning. It’s why St. John can write in the Book of the Revelation that Christ is the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” (Revelation 13:8) Especially as we approach Holy Week and the tragic days of the Lord’s Sacrifice on the Cross; we are challenged to embrace the truth that God sees past the momentary terror of the dark days for His Son to the very end of human history and the glory of the Resurrection AND the Final Judgement! God sees all this and He continues His Work to redeem His creation.

No wonder the writer of Hebrews says of the Lord as He faced the horrors of the Cross “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2

Our Scripture Lesson gives us another powerful insight to this magnificent truth. In Genesis 49:33-50:26 we read the story of the Patriarch Jacob’s death in Egypt after Joseph, his son, had become the “right hand” man to the Pharaoh in Egypt. Joseph, Jacob’s youngest son, had been treated badly by his brothers years before and sold into slavery by his own brothers because they were jealous of him. Now, years later, Joseph has risen to the place of power and authority and was in a great position to help his family when a famine struck the area. He brought his family down to Egypt where they had prepared for this famine because God had told Joseph it was coming. Now, the very brothers who treated Joseph so badly are at his mercy. And their father is dead.

So the brothers are terrified that now their father is dead, Joseph will exact his revenge on his older brothers for what they had done to him all those years ago. They thought that way because, in their hearts, that’s the way they would have reacted! And isn’t that always the way? We fear that others will treat us as we would treat them if we were in their shoes!

But Joseph’s heart was different. He had developed, through his faithfulness to God and his Love for God, a different attitude; a different way of life. His response to his older brothers fears teaches us as well. He tells his brothers “Fear not, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Genesis 50:19-20

Joseph believed so strongly in God’s knowledge and provision for what was best for him that he was FREE; free to forgive AND free to do good even to those who had done evil to him. And Joseph was as good as his word. Look what he says to his people at the end of his life as he dies in Egypt:

And Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die; but God will visit you, and bring you up out of this land to the land which he swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.” Then Joseph took an oath of the sons of Israel, saying, “God will visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here.” So Joseph died, being a hundred and ten years old; and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.

Tomorrow is Lazarus Saturday. We will celebrate the last service of Great Lent and prepare our parish sanctuaries for Palm Sunday and the beginning of the season of Holy Week. We will recall Jesus bringing Lazarus back to life and how that one event catapulted the journey of Jesus to the Cross. We will see Joseph’s prophecy in action as the time when God did visit us and begin the great reversal of mortality to hold all of humanity hostage to fear and sin! We will embark with Christ on His last hours before His life-giving Crucifixion and we will stay with Him all the way to His glorious Resurrection. Every moment of the moments that follow today will be filled with immeasurable blessings and opportunities for joy and spiritual growth. And all of it is yours for the taking, if only you will! Will you have the courage and foresight to see far enough ahead to make the choices that feed your soul?

Today, we are days away from Holy Week, when the Lord of all will be mistreated, rejected, and even killed unjustly. But He saw beyond the momentary pain to the powerful glory and the wonderful redemption His work would produce. In other words, He saw what His momentary suffering would do for you! So, let us not lose heart in the middle of our challenging times, being confident that the Lord of Time (not Doctor Who!) knows our end from the beginning and has our best in His heart for us. Let us approach the labors of these saving days with confidence and faith and allow that reality to strengthen us for the spiritual labors of our lives. After all, He sees further than you! AND, He loves you.

P.S. A blessed Holy Week to you. Join us next week as we focus each day on the lessons and insight of the treasure that is the Holy Week worship of our Orthodox faith!

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