Joseph’s brothers and father stood with wide, angry eyes. Some had their arms crossed. Some turned their backs at the ludicrousness of it all. “Are you indeed to reign over us?” one of his brothers asked furiously. Joseph smiled and shrugged. He wasn’t sure exactly what the dream about the bowing sheaves of wheat had meant, but the thought didn’t seem so bad. As the second youngest of his twelve brothers, he was usually the one bowing to their needs.
A little while later he was sharing a similar dream–about stars and the sun bowing down to him. Even his father, the one who loved him most in life, was upset by what Joseph shared.
As the weeks and months passed, Joseph’s brothers became more and more jealous of him. Not only had he been proud in sharing the dreams that he would one day rule over them, but now their father Jacob had given their baby brother a fancy coat–just another painful reminder that he was their father’s favorite. For days the brothers complained, they even took their flock a little further from home, just to put some distance between themselves and Joseph.
One day, under a bright blue sky, one of the brothers looked up and spotted someone coming toward them. “Who is it?” Some of them grabbed their staffs and moved in closer, ready to guard the heard.
Judah, one of the older brothers held up his hand to shield his eyes then let out a groan. “It’s our crazy-dreamer brother. Probably come to spy on us for father again.”
“What are we going to do with him?”
“Let’s kill him.”
How much they must have hated this brother, for the others jumped on board with the scheme without argument.
“Yes, and we can toss him in that pit over there and say that he was eaten by a wild animal.”
The plan worked its way around the ten brothers, but when it reached the oldest, Reuben, he immediately argued against the plan. “Let’s not take his life. Shed no blood; throw him into this pit here in the wilderness, but do not lay a hand on him.” He waited while his brothers considered the idea and agreed. Whatever it took to get Joseph out of their hair. With a relieved sigh, Reuben watched the brothers go to meet Joseph and throw him into the pit. Reuben would pull him out later, but for now, Joseph was safer down there.
Hours passed and Reuben took a walk, needing to get away from that mess for a while and figure out what to do. While he was away Judah looked out on the horizon and saw a caravan. “You know,” he said, looking around at his brothers, “what profit is it if we kill our brother and conceal his blood? Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and let not our hand be upon him.” He smiles slyly and glances in the direction Reuben went. “After all, he is our brother, our own flesh.”
In a matter of minutes the deal was made. Joseph was pulled out of the pit and stripped of his coat. His wrists were shackled and a few tears ran down his face as he was dragged away. The brothers laughed and waved, glad to be rid of their pest. Then Reuben returned and glanced in the pit to make sure his youngest brother was still well. But what he saw was an empty space. Quickly he turned to Judah. “What have you done?!”
Judah pointed to the caravan, now just a speck in the distance.
“Don’t worry, Reuben. We didn’t kill him. But he’s off our hands for good now.”
“What will we tell father?”
“Joseph is dead. Killed by a wild animal.”
When the brothers returned home with the flock, they found an anxious Jacob pacing, waiting for a report from Joseph. The brothers put on a convincing show and handed a coat covered in goat’s blood to their father.
Meanwhile, Joseph was taken to Egypt and put to work as a servant in the home of one of Pharaoh’s officials named Potiphar. From the beginning Potiphar could tell that this youth was different. Everything he did succeeded. Within a couple of months, Joseph had moved up through the ranks until he was in charge of Potiphar’s entire household.
Joseph didn’t mind the work. Potiphar was a good master and it gave him something to think about other than his brothers’ betrayal and those two dreams still sitting in the back of his mind. He continued on this way for a while…until Potiphar’s wife took notice of him. She tried to seduce him, but he fled. Not used to being rejected and not wanting word to get to her husband about what she had tried to do, the woman told her husband a well-crafted story about Joseph storming into her bedchamber in an effort to sleep with her. Joseph was thrown into prison because of her false accusations.
And still those crazy dreams hung in his mind…
Have you ever had one of those–an idea or hope or dream that just won’t go away? It sounds crazy, but you can’t get rid of it. When you try to embrace it and run after that dream, it remains elusive. You can’t reach it.
I’m not sure that Joseph ever desired power or royalty as his brothers might have thought. Even if he wanted it, I’m not sure how he would have achieved such a lofty goal out in the land of Canaan. So why did God give him those dreams? Obviously they were a God-thing since we read about Joseph’s rise from the dungeons of Egypt to his position as second in command. But why give them to Joseph at age seventeen, nearly twenty years before such things would come about?
Part of me wonders if he had the dreams at that point to give him hope. God knew the hearts of Joseph’s brothers and what they were scheming. Perhaps the dreams were meant to encourage Joseph in those dungeon days and help him believe that God had some great plans for Joseph’s life. Maybe those dreams were what kept Joseph going during his captivity.
I also wonder if maybe it was God’s way of giving Joseph the heads up that He was going to do something great. If you follow Joseph’s story, nothing went the way it should have. He appears to be a victim of jealousy, misunderstanding, forgetfulness, and false accusations. He didn’t deserve any of that. But I’m sure God used that time for Joseph’s good, making Himself real and personal as the boy grew into a man. God helped shape some of Joseph’s skills that he would need once he was given power under Pharaoh.
Maybe God gave those crazy dreams to Joseph to show that there are some dreams only God can bring about.
It’s a frustrating thought because so much of our world tells us to go out there and get what we want. We’re told to chase our dreams. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Until we are given a dream like Joseph’s–one that other people scoff at, one that makes us feel stupid, one that seems incredibly impossible. Perhaps we try to chase after it and bring it about ourselves, but every effort is met with an obstacle. Something always seems to get in our way. That’s because we’re not the ones who will make it happen.
God is a crazy dreamer who plants crazy dreams in our hearts and asks us to trust Him with them, to let Him bring them about. We can’t do it. But He can. We just have to trust Him enough to let Him walk us into that dream–no matter what we encounter along the way, or how impossible it looks, or how long it takes.
All He asks is that we trust Him in His crazy dreams.
Are you holding onto one of those crazy dreams, dear heart. Don’t be afraid to loosen your grasp on it. I know it can be hard, especially if it’s something you really want; but you can trust Jesus with this. He came up with this dream and He will be faithful to deliver it. Just let go and let God lead you.
Live in His love!