Daring to dream like Joseph

Who among us would dare to dream of walking like Christ?

And, if we dared to dream it, would we dare to tell those around us — both those who love us, and those who deride us — of our dream?

Would we tell the world, “I dream of being a saint,” or “I dream of walking with the feet of Christ” — or would we shy away from proclaiming such dreams?

I hope we all would proclaim such wild dreams. “I will be a saint!” But, I know, at least for me, when I even come close to this audacious kind of dream, I feel myself getting held back.

What will they think? I am not worthy. I am unfit. I better keep this quiet. I better give up.

It’s more comfortable to avoid sharing these audacious dreams. It’s easier to avoid scorn and ridicule for daring to dream something we know we’re unfit to even think about.

After all, look at where audacious dreaming got Joseph.

The young man with the beautiful robe had some powerful dreams about God’s plan for him. And Joseph, in his faith — some might say naivete — shared his dreams with his father and brothers:

“Listen to this dream I had: We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.”

Their little brother ruling over them? Joseph’s siblings were none-too-pleased with this dream. But, he persisted with an even more audacious dream:

“Listen,” he said, “I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.”

Bowing down to the little brother — daddy’s favorite? Now, they were really upset.

It all came to a head when Joseph went to find his brothers tending the flocks in the field.

“Here comes this dreamer,” they said to themselves. “Come now, let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits; then we shall say that a wild animal has devoured him, and we shall see what will become of his dreams.” 

As we know, he’s thrown into the pit, but then at the last minute the brothers determine to sell him for 20 pieces of silver to some passing traders, who take Joseph to Egypt.

The first half of Joseph’s story is pretty clear: if you dream big and loud about following God, people may not like it. They may throw you in a pit and sell you as a slave — or something figuratively close to it.

In this half of the story, the brothers see Joseph’s dreams through the eyes of this world. They see them as a threat to their power, their position and inheritance. And, in a fit of greed, envy and pride, they sell their brother into slavery.

But that’s only half — and the less important half — of the story.

Joseph goes on to rise from the depths of the pit to a position of authority in Egypt, overseeing the country’s food supply during a famine — and he rose to that position by continuing to listen to the dreams God put in his path.

When Joseph’s brothers — yes, the ones who threw him into said pit — come looking for food, the outcome seems certain, at least in the ways of this world. 

This is Joseph’s chance for revenge. At the very least, he can lord his position over them, and send them packing, hungry and humiliated.

Instead, Joseph shows the kind of grace and love that only can come from God. He embraces his brothers, provides for their every need, and then calls for the family to come live with him. 

Looking back on all the wrongs done to him, it would have been natural, in the ways of this world, for Joseph to use his position to exact revenge. 

But, instead of looking back with anger and hatred for the wrongs done to him, Joseph looks back and sees God’s hands at work, redirecting the wrongs done against him for the good of many — including those who’d wronged him.

He tells his brothers it was not them that sent him to Egypt. It was God.

“But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God.”

Joseph’s story is important not just because it’s a nice story about a nice boy who grows up to show up his brothers.

It’s important because Joseph shows us how to follow Christ.

There are important parallels for us in the stories of Joseph and Jesus.

Both are sold by their brothers — for Jesus it was his spiritual brothers — for bags of silver. Both and handed over to death. Both descend to the pit — a literal pit for Joseph; hell or Hades for Jesus. Both rise again — from the threat of death for Joseph; from death for all eternity for the rest of us, through Jesus. And both rise in glory. 

When we look at the story of Jesus, we know he died a literal death. He descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again. And he conquered death for all time.

It is easy for us to accept the enormity of the Gospel account because Jesus was fully human; but Jesus also was fully God.

How could we ever dream of following that example?

We look to Joseph. He was just a man — a boy, really, at the beginning of the story. But, Joseph had the audacity to dream, big and loud.

He had the audacity to dream, and to really believe, that God would use him in big ways for His will. And Joseph acted on those dreams.

Joseph gives us hope to follow Christ. Joseph shows us how to dream big, and to listen to God’s voice guiding our lives.

We are only human. We will fail and fall and falter in following the dream of walking in Christ’s footsteps.

But, Christ will not leave us, no matter how many times we fall. All that’s asked is we keep getting back up, to take our cross back up and follow him.

It’s not failure to fall on our walk with Christ. That’s expected. It’s only failure if we don’t dare to dream we can walk in His footsteps. Because, without doubt, that is the dream we all are meant to dream.

Lord Christ, embolden us in our dreams, to dream of walking in your path. Let us dream of being saints. Then, let us rise, and boldly proclaim and enact those dreams, to be your hands and your feet in this world. Amen.

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