Joseph: A Pilgrim's Diligent Hands

Diligent hands will rule (Pr 12:24a NIV)

The last point I have to make about Joseph's time in prison and his belief in his dream is to do with his attitude towards his circumstances while he waited for his dream to be fulfilled. Far from putting his life on hold, Joseph threw himself into whatever task was before him with all his might. This for me is the difference between a traveler and a pilgrim. A traveler is in a temporary state of transit between one fixed position and another. The journey is just a means of getting from A to B. The pilgrim is continually in transit towards his ultimate destination; life is the journey and the journey is life.

Joseph was not just a traveler, bags packed, legs crossed, paperback in hand, biding his time until he arrived at his destination. He was a pilgrim, no less focused on his destination, but diligent in whatever his hands found to do along the way.

Our dreams are supposed to drive us forward in the purpose of God, not cause us to stand still. If we think we have to wait until our dreams are fulfilled before we can serve God as we aught, we have not caught the heart of a pilgrim.

Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
who have set their hearts on pilgrimage.
As they pass through the Valley of Baca,
they make it a place of springs;

the autumn rains also cover it with pools. (Ps 84:5-6)

Jesus put it another way in the parable of the talents. The implications are that man who only received one talent looked at the man with five, and thought that he too should have had five talents, and because he did not have five, he could not do anything effective for his master. Instead of looking at what he had right now, he was paralysed by his dream of what he should have in the future. When he should have seen +1 all he could see was -4! But, if he had taken this one talent and put it to use, he would have been one step closer to his dream of having five. We need to learn the secret of being content with what we have got right now. [Or as Dave so eloquently put it: "How much is enough?"]

Paul put it this way:

"I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content." (Php 4:11)

This is not the "contentment" of those who have forsaken their dream, and decided to settle where they are, but the contentment of pilgrims who know they are on the right road and are closer to their dream at the end of the day than when they first arose.

For even when we attain our dreams we do not cease to be pilgrims. God just moves us on to the next dream. Joseph remained a pilgrim to the end of his life (and beyond!) for God had given him a new vision of God's people returning to their homeland. When the pilgrims of the Exodus came out of Egypt, they carried Joseph's bones with them.

Like Joseph, we are pilgrims following our dreams from the Lord into eternity, working with all our might as diligent servants along the way.

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