When we are called into the Kingdom of God, we have to be trained for our life ahead. If we truly listen to God, allow ourselves to be guided by Him and allow His perfect will to flourish in our lives; this will involve a lifetime of training. Jesus was born into mankind as a little baby boy. He too had to be prepared for His ministry. He went through a great deal of training with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit before He was ready to start His ministry at the age of thirty years. This training did not happen in the foreground under constant glare of the masses. He was trained in the background in a natural way.
Jesus had to understand humanity, our feelings and emotions; He had to understand how to be a human being, a man as well as being God! He was representing a race, so He had to learn their ways and how they functioned and He did this through real life experiences, He lived it. He wasn’t told about it, He didn’t read about it, He didn’t do a seminar on it and He didn’t just appear on earth at the age of thirty in all His glory, because of who He is; the Son of God. He completed His training and when He was fully prepared and ready, He started His ministry. He did not bypass God’s process, was not given a privileged VIP pass and He waited on the Lord.
But how do we know when God is training us? How do we know when we are ready to start our ministry? The greater the calling, the more work God has to do with us; the harder the training will be, so don’t try to rush Him because He will not give you tasks that you are not ready or prepared to do. Without God’s training you will fail. God will use seemingly natural and unexpected tools to train us, people in our work places, family and friends, life experiences, leaders and members of our church, strangers, bad decisions, injustices, your strengths and weaknesses, you name it and He will use it. And He will use His Holy Spirit to perfect us and bring us out of this time of training. Remember the Apostles were ‘unlearned’ fishermen. They had not studied at Universities or the equivalent establishments of their time; not that there is anything wrong with studying at Universities or other educational establishments!
Unfortunately, all too often in the life of a Christian they refuse to seek the Lord and wait on Him, refuse to be trained by Him and have little trust and real faith in Him. If we refuse to do these things, we may never truly find out what we have been called to do. We make life difficult for ourselves and make it impossible for God to work with us. God never changes and no amount of tantrums, cursing, anger or pleading will convince the Lord to switch up His plans for your life or for mankind.
Many will know the story of Joseph and his coat of many colours, but this man of God was the personification of ‘waiting on the Lord and allowing God to train him.’ And the truth of it is that Joseph didn’t really get a chance to enjoy his beautiful coat which was the ‘straw that broke the camel’s back;’ with the breakdown in the relationship with his brothers. His brothers were so jealous when Israel, their father gave Joseph the coat, that they plotted to kill him but later sold him into slavery.
Joseph started having dreams when he was seventeen, and he was the favourite child of his father because he was born when his father was old. Joseph was excited with this dreams and shared them with his brothers and father. His brothers became jealous and envious of him and his father was even annoyed with him at one point. So Joseph’s journey began, a young man born free and happy in a family that was greatly blessed by the Lord, wanted for nothing, was suddenly thrown into slavery for doing absolutely nothing. Christians will always suffer injustice and often from the hands of their own!
Joseph means ‘May God Add,’ and God certainly added to Joseph’s life. He was the eleventh son of Jacob, who later became Israel when God changed his name. Joseph was sold to the Ishmaelites also known as Midianite traders as a slave by his brothers and was later bought by Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officers in Egypt. The Lord was with Joseph and blessed him in such a way that he became greatly successful in everything he did. Potiphar acknowledged that God was with Joseph and gave him control over all his household because he too prospered as a result of this.
But there was so much more that Joseph had to endure and I don’t imagine that he thought life could get any worse, but it did. Yet Joseph did not turn against the Lord. Potiphar’s wife set her sights on him because he was good looking in stature and features. She tried to sleep with him and when he refused again and again, she lied to her husband claiming that he had tried to force himself on her, another injustice in the life of Joseph. So the comfort he was used to in Potiphar’s house came to an abrupt end as this was not God’s perfect will for his life. His journey was to take yet another turn.
Joseph was sent to prison and there again he was extremely prosperous and prospered so much so that the prison governor allowed him to do anything he wanted. One lesson to learn here is that when God blesses you, no one can curse you; God will counteract the curses making them ineffective. While you continue to prosper they will not. God will intervene when necessary.
In prison, Joseph’s gift of interpreting dreams was in demanded. First he interpreted the dreams of two of Pharaoh’s officers who were thrown into prison and later summoned to Pharaoh himself to interpret dreams which were troubling to him. None of the palace advisers, astronomers or wise men could interpret the dreams. Through it all Joseph gave all the glory and praise to God declaring to Pharaoh that it is God who gives him the interpretations.
God used real life experiences to train Joseph over a period of thirteen years. Through his experiences, he learned:
- Patience to endure through any situation
- Praising through the pain and disappointments – always giving God the praise
- Great Faith in God
- Forgiveness for his brothers which can only come from love
- Using his God given gifts to benefit others
- Dealing with injustices without becoming bitter or losing hope
- Developed the characteristics of a true leader
- Wait on the Lord until He brought him out of the situation
I could list so many more things that Joseph learned on this journey that set Him up for life in his ministry.
Joseph was described by Pharaoh as ‘discerning’ and ‘wise.’ So Pharaoh made him leader over the nation of Egypt second only to Pharaoh himself, and Pharaoh trusted him with ALL things. So you see Joseph’s journey was about so much more than his coat of many colours. Joseph was seventeen when he was sold into slavery and thirty when he became ruler over Egypt, this was thirteen years. He served eleven years as a slave and the final two years as a slave in prison. Let us consider for a moment how many of us could have had the patience to wait on the Lord for this long, praising him through all the injustices, the hurt and the pain and never seeing a way out of our situation.
The seventeen year old Joseph was not ready to walk fully in his calling until God trained him in a very natural way through his experiences in life and yet in a completely spiritual way with His blessings, intervention and protection. When he came out of his situation he was ready, stronger than before, older and wiser, experienced in life and in God. The greater the calling the tougher the training. If he had not stayed the course, he would not have fulfilled his true destiny.
What would have happened in Joseph’s life if he had given up, felt sorry for himself and the injustices of his life, cursed his situation and even worse, cursed God? Suppose he was determined to ask God for something else? What if he prayed and prayed after the first two years begging God to deliver him from his situation and God took him out of it. The answer to these questions and suppositions is simple, Joseph would never have fulfilled his destiny. He would not have completed his training to become a Godly ruler over Egypt. He could not have learned all the things he needed to learn at home tending his fathers’ sheep. Yet we know that David was trained in this way (tending his father’s sheep) to become a Shepherd over the children of Israel. David too was trained in a natural way by God; but that is discussion for another time.
You can read more about Joseph in Genesis 37-50, the first book of the Old Testament. Please don’t hesitate to share and leave me comments on how you feel your spiritual training is going.