I have a water bottle plastered with stickers from places I’ve been or organizations that I love. Looking at it this morning, I thought, “What if, like this water bottle, our lives are stamped with things we’ve done or haven’t done, and it reflects who we are and what (or whom) we serve?”
Now, I understand that that’s a deep thought for a water bottle, but there’s something to it. If someone on the outside of who you are looked at your life, what would they see? What passions would they recognize? What things are you supporting through your time and finances? It doesn’t matter so much what they think about what they see, but we — as Jesus followers — should always aim to live a life that is worthy of the price He paid for it.
Remember the guy with the ornate cloak of many colors? That’s Joseph, and he was one of Jacob’s twelve sons. He told his brothers about the dream he had of one day ruling over them…which they didn’t take too kindly to since he was already their father’s favorite. Deciding against throwing Joseph in a pit to die, they sold him to some merchants who took him to Egypt. Here’s where we meet Potiphar:
Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. Potiphar, an Egyptian who was one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him there… Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned… So Potiphar left everything he had in Joseph’s care…Genesis 39:1, 4, 6
After what Joseph’s brothers did to him, he was living the dream when he was working for Potiphar. Unfortunately, Potiphar’s wife had other ideas and attempted to get Joseph to share a bed with her.
When his master heard the story his wife told him, saying, “This is how your slave treated me,” he burned with anger. Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined. But while Joseph was there in the prison, the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden.Genesis 39:19-21
Now, I doubt Joseph had a water bottle full of stickers like mine, but when it comes to displaying where you’ve been and who you are, Joseph’s “big moments” were out there for everyone to see.
Joseph’s story is one that we can all relate to in one way or another. While you may not have been sold into slavery by your brothers or become the right hand man of Pharaoh’s trusted official, there are things you’re not proud of in your past that feel like a badge of shame. And sometimes, I know you feel like that’s all anyone can see. For Joseph, he was kidnapped and sold off, mistakenly convicted of attempted assault, and was left there by the prisoners he asked to remember him. For you, it might be a failed marriage or relationship, the difficulty of parenting in public, the loss of your job, or even your dwindling faith.
If there’s anything you should glean from Joseph, let it be this: you are who God says you are, not who they say you are.
I understand that’s easier said than lived out, but it’s the truth you can lean on. Whatever you go through doesn’t negate the goodness of God. In fact, when you’re at your lowest, the goodness of God is the only thing you have to hope on.
Let people see that. Let them see how hard you pray, how you give back through serving, and how you encourage those who are struggling just like you. Let the “stickers” on your metaphorical water bottle be life-giving battle scars that you proudly display. You may not get to choose what people see, but you can always choose how you move forward from what you went through.
God got you through some tough stuff. Why would he leave you now? Stick with it!