The journey God has given me has been long, and awful, and joyful and unlike that of any other man. I arrived in the world grasping at my twin brother’s heel. Later I tricked him into stealing his birthright from our father. In turn, my father-in-law played a dreadful trick on me. Along the way I lost my beloved Rachel, raised twelve beautiful boys and wrestled with God. Now I am a prosperous old man with more grandchildren and great grandchildren than I count. Nothing about my life prepared me for its darkest hour, however.
The light of my life was my Joseph, Rachel’s firstborn son. Rachel had so desperately wanted a baby but she seemed unable to bear children. When she finally did, the joy we shared knew no bounds. And that beautiful, loving boy fulfilled all of our dreams. I have always loved all of my children but there was something special about the bond I shared with Joseph. After his mother died we became even closer. Even when his brothers grew up and married and were busy with their lives, Joseph loved to sit by the fire with me each night and we’d discuss our days and our dreams. We both have always been so intrigued by dreams, ever since the dream God gave me so many years ago. How well I remember how Joseph’s eyes would light up when he would see me; it happened when he was a young boy but still happened when he became a man, taller than his father.
One fateful day I was in the marketplace and saw the most spectacular colorful coat and all I could think of was how Joseph would love it and how his eyes would light up. He loved colors and always took note of the beautiful color of flowers and birds and butterflies. This coat had all of those colors. I knew he had to have it. Somehow, to my shame, I did not think that I should also have brought gifts for my other children. Joseph did indeed love the coat, even more than I could have imagined, but it was, alas, the start of the worst part of my long journey. For it was only a few days later that my other sons returned from the fields, but something was very different. As I had watched over my boys all during their growing up years I had always counted them, thousands of times I had counted them to be sure that all twelve were safe. On that dark day I only counted eleven. Soon they handed me that same coat, torn and bloodstained. My precious Joseph dead, the campfire of my life had gone out. Nothing would ever be right in my world again.
I tried my best to carry on for the sake of the other children and grandchildren, but there was no joy in my journey. The dreary days stretched into weeks and months and years. The boys were grown, I was ready to die and be gathered to my fathers. In my later years a terrible famine spread throughout the land. All of the gold I had gathered over the years was worthless; we could not eat it. Our flocks and herds were gone. The grandchildren were hungry. It seemed that the end of my journey was near and that it would be a bitter one. The boys had gone to Egypt in search of food and encountered a strange ruler who seemed to know too much about us but they returned with generous amounts of food and we were able to feast again. But then when the food ran out, they needed to return there and this time they were to bring Benjamin, Joseph’s younger brother whom I had kept by my side since Joseph died. Having no other choice, all eleven of my remaining sons left again for the long journey to Egypt. I sent gifts and gold along in hopes of pleasing the Egyptian ruler and a safe return for my boys, hopefully with more food. I sat by the fire and fretted for weeks, the road to Egypt is long and dangerous, especially in those dark and hungry times. I wasn’t sure if I would see them again or if I would live long enough for their return.
After many hungry weeks of watching the horizon I saw the dust of a great caravan. I could hardly dare to hope that it would be my sons. And yet as the dust grew closer I saw that it was indeed and that they had many more camels than they had taken. My eyes filled with tears as I counted all eleven sons, safe and accounted for, even Benjamin. But then a strange thing happened. Reuben rushed forward with a terrible look on his face and fell to the ground at my feet sobbing, soon the others joined him. They were safe, they had food, what could possibly be wrong?
The story that tumbled out of my Reuben was too horrible and too fantastic to believe. Joseph had not died but had been done away with by his jealous brothers. My sons wept bitter tears of shame as they confessed what they had done, and begged my forgiveness. We went into the tent together and cried and embraced and I also asked their forgiveness for the sin of making them feel unloved. I dared not believe the second half of their story; that my Joseph was alive and well in Egypt? I could not even get my hopes up that it could be true. They had to be mistaken. The magnitude of the gifts from the Egyptian ruler was more than I could imagine. We had enough food now for many years to come; there was no need to return to that far off land. But on the slim chance that it was true, I readied my weary old bones for the great journey. I knew at my age, I may die along the way, but if it were true that I could see my son once more before I died, it would be worth the long, long road.
After many weeks we neared that strange and wonderful place. A great pyramid rose to the sky on the horizon, larger than anything I had ever seen. But while we were gazing at it, a great cloud of dust approached surrounding a glimmering chariot of gold. The rays of the sun reflected from the great chariot and a great Egyptian ruler, also clad in gold inside. The strange man jumped from the chariot and ran towards me. I can see why my sons did not know him, he was adorned in the strange style of Egyptian royalty. But when he came close enough for my old eyes, I knew in a moment. Those eyes I had known and loved since he first peered at me from his cradle. It was indeed my Joseph. As I rushed into his arms, I felt like a young man again. I clutched his face and wept “I thought I had lost you forever.” My grandfather Abraham may have known something of this feeling when God spared my father Isaac on the altar, but I am convinced that in that moment I knew a joy that no other man had ever felt.
The joy of that moment foreshadowed the greatest moment in history when another of my descendants, Jesus the Christ would arise from the dead and return to our father, the great Jehovah. Can you imagine His joy when His Son arose from the dead, as my own son seemed to have? I believe that God gave me that reunion with Joseph so that our story would forever remind God’s people of the great joy He feels whenever one of His children returns to Him.
Today, are you walking with God? Do you know God? If you do not, do not walk but run into His arms as my Joseph did to mine. You and the Father will never know such joy as you feel when you return to where you belong, in His loving arms. As long as I lived, I never let go of Joseph again, and that is just how God the Father will abide in you. Seek Him and find Him today.