Joseph the Dreamer
I believe that God places dreams and aspirations in the hearts of His children - obviously I recommend you pray and test it before accepting anything your mind conjures up! However, Joseph's life is a testament to the fact that 'dreams alone never lead to success'.
These dreams, are often ambiguous...they point somewhere, but that could be anywhere! They give a gist of the future but no clear plan for the present, or vice-versa. They're often frustrating but always motivating.
This is not just true for Joseph, take Abraham, Noah, Peter, the list goes on...
Dreams are a bit like faith and hope, action invigorates them. This action involves submission and discipline, and as Martin points out, discipline in three areas: service, self-control and suffering.
Joseph the Learner
Dreams require training before they can be implemented.
It took Leonardo da Vinci at least 12 years to finish the Mona Lisa.
It took around 2000 years to complete the Great Wall of China.
It took around 22 years to build the Taj Mahal...and it took God 13 years to make Joseph the great leader he was destined to be. Of course God can make a leader out of any Tom, Dick or Harry in the blink of an eye, but that's no good to anyone! Masterpieces take ages, and the journey is part of the reason as to why we stop and admire them.
Joseph was one pampered boy - spying on his brothers, arrogantly boasting about his dreams and showing off the colourful coats tailored for him by dad! How annoying! Thank goodness God worked on him before letting him anywhere near a position of power.
We are destined for greatness...whatever God intends 'greatness' to be, hence we too undergo the same disciplining as good old Joe:
- Discipline of Service: Joseph had to have his pride broken and his arrogance stunted. Service teaches humility, which brings with it respect, diligence and obedience. Martin depicts this beautifully, 'God had to literally strip Joseph of his flashy coat and clothe him with a slave's tunic so that Joseph might learn to be 'clothed with humility'. Can you relate? I sure can!
- Discipline of Self-Control: Temptation is an inevitable reality; sexual temptation in particular is inescapable in the 21st century, it is also debilitating. It starts in your head, and before you know it, your body gives in. The Bible is clear by word and example that a man cannot be entrusted with greater things if he cannot be entrusted with the body he is given. 'Greatness' requires self-control...Samson lost his greatness when he lost his self control and gave in to the lust of his flesh. Yes this is a hard one but remember, God does not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear. Like Joseph, acknowledge your weakness (in his case, Potiphar's wife), consciously avoid it and if need be, RUN AWAY!
- Discipline of Suffering: You'd think that was enough discipline, but God intended Joseph to experience suffering - in prison, because of a false accusation. Suffering can be a defining period in our walk with God. A period that can either make us or break us. Suffering teaches us patience, it sharpens our faith by teaching us to increasingly trust in God and His word, even when the future looks bleak.
Joseph the Leader
Joseph brought Egypt through a severe famine and draught; he was also instrumental in helping his family survive. When life seems unfair and people cause you harm, let Joseph's life reiterate the truth that God can use everything to accomplish His good and perfect will.
Joseph would never be the man he was if it weren't for the experiences he endured. God has a plan for your life and mine, but before he can use us, we've got to let Him teach us - whatever that may involve! You see, a dream without discipline becomes a nightmare.
There's much more to this average Joe after all! Now go, turn your dreams into realities!