Heroes Have Hiccups
Falling on your face is a hard reality many of us face at one time or another.
Not the ‘falling on our face before the Lord’ fall, this is the straight up painful, nose to pavement, blood on the sidewalk - I. am. officially. bleeding. – type of face plant. The visual can be a bit gruesome, but it is a fitting descriptive of the process. We’ve all been through something like this at one time or another...it sucks.
When it comes to falling in the pursuit of our dreams, we often feel like giving up.
Truth be told, we are instinctively trained for this moment in childhood and don’t even know it. My wife informs me that fire, water and babies are something you can watch forever without getting bored. Not being a parent yet, or particularly sentimental, toddlers have become my favorite to watch. More specifically, them falling, frequently, is something I could watch all day. The two-year-old tikes in my world, an adorable nephew and a close friend’s oldest, have recently graduated the stage of being ever covered in battle wounds. Learning to walk is one of the many preparation grounds of life that the majority of us persevered through yet for some reason when it comes to falling in the pursuit of our dreams, we often feel like giving up.
The way my world goes, I often have to find solace in Proverbs 24:16: “Though a righteous man falls seven times… he gets back up”(paraphrased).
Well wasn’t that a nice verse to encourage us to get back up! Personally, I’m on at least fall four or five and haven’t even hit thirty yet, so I’m definitely going to get some mileage out of this verse. But what about when life ‘Mike Tyson’s' you and you’re out for the count, that blood on the pavement, dreams shattered type of fall?
Been there. Done that. Got the bloody t-shirt - well at least Joseph does.
Joseph seemed to start out like the same kind of kid many of us are, with big dreams. When I was younger I dreamt of being an Olympian, a policeman, a firefighter. I had other dreams too – we all had them, whatever they were, something we wanted to be when we “got bigger”. As a kid, Joseph had a dream from God where the sun, moon and stars bowed down to him - that’s big (Genesis 37:5-10).
Jealousy, pride and personal disappointment are emotions that like to rear their head when someone else shares their dreams. It can be easier to think of our own dreams that have crashed and burned than be genuinely excited for those who have shared their dream with us. It’s easy to feel the reasoning behind Joseph’s brother’s “who does this guy think he is?” attitude. This was the beginning of Joseph’s hiccups, and there were many of them.
Joseph's family: #fail.
Our family is often the first group of people we share our dreams with. Families by design are our support base, our cheer-leading squad, the ones who will help keep us accountable and help us make goals to make our dreams a success, the ones we hope will lift us up in prayer, but Joseph got no love. For most, a lack of family/friend support would result in a dream dying a premature death. In my life I don’t know how I would have been able to accomplish as many dreams and goals as I have without my family support.
Admittedly, in this area, my family rocked. At around age ten I decided I want to be a figure skater and my amazing mom took another job to pay for my training, coaching and equipment – it was expensive, but she sacrificed so I could live my dreams. My dad wasn’t so sure he could handle a son in tights, yet he survived and once rode a bus forty-six hours in five days to watch me compete. Joseph’s family on the other hand: #fail. No matter HOW annoying my little sister ever was (and she had her moments), I don’t think I could have ever imagined selling her into slavery (or sent her to the circus, boarding school, the military, or whatever the ‘modern day’ equivalent is in Western Culture). Seriously, if no family support was a hiccup, family sabotage is a serious road block.
Yet Joseph knew he had a dream from God and he persevered and continued pursuing his dream. Slavery for most would put dreams to death, or at least cause a shift in the faith/reality ration of the dream coming true. At least it would have for me. Somehow, God got through to Joseph in what would be seen as dire circumstances and kept him charging on towards his dream. While a slave, Joseph’s employer, Potiphar – the captain of the guard, saw that God’s favor was with Joseph and put him in charge of everything he owned (Genesis 39). Where most would see being a slave as a glass ceiling, Joseph excelled. Surely this was Joseph’s ticket to the top. Office politics and a faux romantic triangle framing Joseph as a rapist went awry and landed our hero in jail. (This story is pretty awesome, you should give it another read).
Joseph had a choice to make at each hiccup.
Jail – seriously how’s a guy supposed to accomplish his dreams of the sun moon and stars bowing down to him in JAIL! This is serious dream derailment. But the Lord was with Joseph and granted him favor and kindness with the prison warden, and Joseph was put in charge of all of the prisoners. This happens? Well maybe not to everyone goes to ‘jail’, but sometimes being in school or a ‘stepping stone’ job on a particular career path can feel like jail. (Can I get an amen!)
The rest of the story can be found in Genesis 41 – 46, but what about the story of our own dreams? How will it be written and end? For me, there are a few key things that got Joseph through to the end that I want to apply to my own dreams:
The absolute, undeniable favor of God was with Joseph everywhere he went, whether he noticed it or not in his own life, others did. Each step of the way the favor was acknowledged by others and by hook or by crook each hiccup brought Joseph into a realization of his boyhood dream. Dreams may pass with age, but the ones that are given to us by God, that He has His hand on, based on Joseph’s story, it doesn’t seem like anything can stop them!
Joseph had a choice to make at each hiccup, he could look at his circumstances, or he could look through them and see the grace and favour of God. We too have the same choices. We can look at our seemingly insurmountable circumstances and assume our dreams are dashed, or we can choose to trust and have faith that God has not finished writing our stories yet! Um, hello, Joseph – slavery, office politics, jail… that’s pretty much as insurmountable as you can get.
If you feel like you’re nose is bleeding from a face plant, or you’re holding you’re breath while enduring life’s hiccups, have faith! In my life, there has been no Olympics, or rushing into burning buildings, nor maintaining civil justice, but I know God is not finished with my dreams. The God we love and serve today is the same God that made it happen for Joseph - so wear the T-Shirt with pride and let your testimony encourage others!