This devotional is part of a series through the story of Joseph. You can read the whole series here.
The story of Abraham began with a call. At a time when he was called Abram, living in Ur of the Chaldees, God went to the father of many nations and gave him one simple command: “Go!” The King James Version memorably translates the Hebrew as “Get thee out.”
Where he was to go he did not know, but he knew God did not want him in Ur any longer. The Jewish American author, Michael Chabon, wrote that this call was in essence an invitation to go on an adventure with God.
By the time of Jacob, Joseph’s father, the people of Abraham had settled in the land with no intentions of going back to Egypt. His grandfather, Abraham, went to Egypt and it brought about disaster. The adventure had led them away from Egypt, not into it. Wasn’t Canaan the land of promise? How could this be what God wanted?
So God appeared to Jacob in a dream. In a moment when he was fearful for the future of his people God appeared and said, “I myself will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also bring you up again, and Joseph's hand shall close your eyes.” With those words, the direction was clear.
Notice what God says. Notice the source of assurance. First, Jacob’s comfort comes because God promises to be with him. He was not told that he was strong enough, clever enough, or rich enough. He was not told to be self-sustaining or self-willing. Rather it would be God’s presence and God’s willing that would bring the promise about.
Second, God promised to bring him out to the land of promise. Jacob was correct in understanding that Egypt was not the promised land. What he needed to know was that God worked in improbable ways. He and his descendants could only fully receive the promised land in God’s way.
Third, in what must have been a sobering moment, Jacob was told that he would die outside the promised land. In a land of pagans he would breathe his last in a place of idols and vain temples. But this did not worry him because God’s plan and promise were not tied to him individually, but to God personally, and the people corporately.
Under the New Covenant of Jesus Christ, the land promise has extended beyond Canaan to the whole world. In Matthew 28, Jesus tells the apostles to go and make disciples of all nations. Because Jesus was sent from Father into the world; because Jesus relied on the words of his Father; because Jesus died in a land of pagans and idols; because Jesus rose again and commissioned us to spread his gospel we are free to follow the Father’s leading.
It is not always easy to discern where God is leading you. It can often be challenging and even discouraging when you are trying to figure out where God is leading you. But don’t let trials keep you from faithfulness. In those moments do three things.
Read the Scriptures while praying to the Spirit to illuminate to you what the Father wants you to know.
Pray and be attentive to where God might be leading you. This may not be into the mission field, but it will certainly be towards loving your neighbor and serving those around you.
Ask your friends, pastor, family how they believe your gifts might be best used.
Our God goes before us and is doing infinitely more than we could ask or imagine.
Will Stockdale is a Ministry Associate and cohost of The Will & Rob Show.