October 27 Reflections

The phrase “You have to go backwards in order to go forward” has opened a whole new area of my heart for God to do his transforming work. How can I stop having 10-year-old Verlyn show up? I think you know what I mean in your own life. As a child you experienced something which you then placed a meaning on that experience. To self-protect you develop a habitual way of being. I grew up with a deep sense of shame, that my family and me were not enough. I remember being laughed at many times because we were poor. To self-protect I worked hard and was busy, so I did not have to let anyone into my life. Also, if I worked hard people will think I am wonderful and like me. All I ended up with was a deep tiredness and loneliness and the awareness that not everyone will like you even if you work hard. God has revealed to me a whole new way of living that is healthier and allows me to show up as 63-year-old Verlyn: “I will rest in Jesus, trusting who he says I am, while living wholeheartedly for him.” To go forward in this truth, I had to face some of the negative vows from the past.

Think of what Joseph had to face in order to move forward. He had to face a family culture of lying and secrets. Abraham lied twice about Sarah. Isaac and Rebecca’s marriage was characterized by lies. Jacob lied to almost everyone; his name means “deceiver.” Ten of Jacob’s children lied about Joseph’s death, faking a funeral and keeping a “family secret” for over ten years. All the secrecy and deceit went to a new level in Joseph’s life. He lost his parents, siblings, culture, food, language, freedom, and hopes all in one day. Then while serving as a slave in the home of Potiphar, he was falsely accused of rape and sent to prison for years. All the circumstances of his life could easily have led Joseph to say, “I don’t have a right to exist. My life is a mistake. I am worthless. I will never trust anyone. I won’t take risks. I won’t feel. It is too painful. I am a loser.” Yet, he didn’t. Joseph was aware of his past. He examined it. He thought about it. Then he opened the door to God’s future by rewriting it with God, not by ignoring the past, or rewriting the past, but acknowledging it and being open to God’s grace for a transformed present and future.

Can we affirm the large, loving hand of God through all the pain and hardship of our lives? Joseph did because he had a profound sense of a “Big God.” A big God that is working for our good in all things. In our families of origin and even when we are mistreated. We are going to think about this on Sunday. Some passages to read: Genesis 39; Romans 12:9-21; 1 Peter 3:8-17; Psalm 139:7-12.

Grace upon Grace,

Pastor Verlyn