I’ve been devouring devotionals by Os Hillman today. Everything he says is just making sense.
Let me explain. A couple weeks ago, my sister brought home two copies of Os Hillman’s The Upside of Adversity. As I write this, I couldn’t be more sure that God placed this book in her hands for a reason.
The book is about what Os calls the “Joseph Calling” and the “Joseph Pit” – a phenomenon where basically God calls us to do great things for Him and then leads us through a period of adversity to mold us and shape us for the life He has planned for us.
I’ll admit right now that even as a nearly life-long Christian, I’m not well versed in the Old Testament. I love memorizing verses and doing my best to apply them to my daily life, but when it comes to context and characters, I’m sorely unfamiliar. I’ll also admit that I’ve felt like God has been telling me “now is the time to get familiar with my Word” for months. I made a halfhearted attempt at it a couple weeks ago, when I asked my pastor if I could borrow any good books about the Old Testament. He lent me a book, but I never got around to reading either it or the Old Testament.
So of course when God tried to talk to me about Joseph, my first response was “who?” I mean, I knew the name and that he had a multi-colored coat, but that was about it. And now God was pointing to Joseph and telling me to learn from him, and I was sorely unprepared.
Being the loving God that He is, He basically hit me over the head with Joseph stories for the next few days. Steph began to explain the Joseph Calling and the Joseph Pit to me. A woman at Barnes & Noble randomly pointed out a Joseph themed book she thought I’d like (not even knowing for sure that I was a Christian). And some children I was babysitting were watching the story of Joseph on DVD. (Seriously, could He have made it more obvious?)
Even then I resisted learning more because I was afraid of what I might read. What if Joseph’s life was hard and ugly and not at all what I wanted for my life. And what if God was telling me to read Joseph for a reason?
But finally I did decide to obey. I started reading Genesis (which is way easier to read than I remembered by the way… Thank God for the NLT) and I cracked open The Upside of Adversity to see what it was all about.
Let me summarize it for you: It’s about my life. I mean, technically it’s about Os Hillman’s life. His own struggle through adversity and trials, tough times, divorce, financial collapse, etc. And it’s also about Joseph’s life. His calling as a child, the adversity he faced between then and adulthood (you know, like being kidnapped by his brothers and sold into slavery then being falsely accused of a crime and being imprisoned for years) and how God uses adversity to shape us for the great plans He has in store.
The crazy thing is, everything I’m reading in The Upside of Adversity hits home. And much like Kay Warren’s Dangerous Surrender, which helped me get the courage to answer the call I very clearly heard God place on my life, I truly believe God placed this book in my hands right now for a reason. I wish it was easier. I wish when I said “I’ll go, Lord. Send me” it lead to an easier assignment where I could just go to school, get my degree, marry my hunky boyfriend, move into a pretty house, and help sick people get better.
But even Kay had warned me that surrender isn’t easy. It means completely dying to self. My old ways and ambitions and interests and desires. It means a “ready, set, stop” moment where I say “yes, I’ll do it! Let’s go!” and God says “hold on just a minute. There are some things I need to show you first.” before proceeding to strip me of everything I’ve ever relied on for security or a sense of self until the only thing I’m capable of doing is holding out my hands to help and realizing it all came from Him in the first place.
That’s the tough thing about the Joseph calling. And that’s exactly where I stand right now.
The good news is I’m not the only one. And this period of adversity doesn’t mean God doesn’t love me. It doesn’t mean He’s abandoned me. It doesn’t mean I made up this crazy calling in the first place so now He’s punishing me. It just means He has more in store for me than the pretty little picture of life I’d painted in my head and He’s hard at work getting me ready.
I’m probably going to blog about this a lot for the next few weeks (months? years?) because as hard as it is, I believe there is work to be done in me and God is doing it. And in some sick way I’m actually excited about what might come out of this even if right now I feel like the first car of the roller coaster just before it plummets from the top of the 450 foot hill. Wish me luck and say a prayer that I hold on tight. And hopefully one day I’ll look back and say “that wasn’t such a scary ride after all.”