July 25, 2021
• Rev. Dr. Jevon Caldwell-Gross
I want to pick up this sermon series with a clip from the movie Hidden Figures. In the scene they one thing getting it into space and a completely different set of circumstances getting everyone back safely. They had to be exact. The calculations have to be precise. If they bring the shuttle in too soon it burns up on re-entry. Too late and they never see it again. The entry point had to be at exactly the right time! Take a look.
Full transparency…. I have no idea what all that means! I don’t know how rocket science works but I know it’s complicated. I know that they weren’t leaving it up to chance. I know It was intentional. It was calculated. I know a lot went into making sure the pilot and the space pod landed at a particular place. The complication is an indication of just how essential and difficult timing can be.
Our lives are no different. It gives us insight to how God works. I know it doesn’t always feel like it, but a lot goes into where we land, where we end up, and how God works in our lives. It’s complicated. It’s confusing. We vastly underestimate and undervalue what it takes, all the things that have to go right, how precise God has to be, how the timing has to be just right, how things behind the scenes have to lineup in such a way to get us where we need to be. If you think Rocket science is hard, how do you get a person who’s been in prison for all this time in front of the most powerful person in that day?! As we connect the dots, Joseph reveals that timing is everything.
Nicole reminded us last week that For 10 years we hear nothing about his dreams but they are awakened by hearing the dreams of others). And that’s when it happens, one request changes his life. As he interprets the dreams of the cup bearer he tells him to, “Remember me.” Days go by. Weeks go by. Months go by. And not a single word from the cupbearer. For two years he’s waiting for his name to be called. And if you’ve ever waited on anything you know how long these days were for Jospeh. At some point in our lives we’ve all had to wait on something. But at end of the last chapter it says, “The chief cupbearer, however, did not remember Joseph; he forgot him.”
Faith is it not just trusting if God will do it, how God will do it, why God will do it, but surrendering to “when”. I imagine that Joseph had to ask, “Why is it taking so long? What’s the hold up? Why doesn’t God speed this up? Why does Joseph have to wait two whole years for his name to be called? Do you want to know…It wasn’t the right time.
Joseph might have felt like he was wasting the best years of his life in prison. At some point it had to enter into his mind that he’s at the wrong place at the wrong time. Its almost as if these two years were just a waste of time.
Its temping to have that approach when we are waiting on God to answer or intervene, because on the surface wasting and waiting can look and feel identical. Are we wasting the time or waiting?
⁃ (Show slide) Is he wasting time or waiting for the computer to finish upgrading
⁃ (Show slide) Is he wasting time or waiting for the zoom meeting to start
⁃ (Slide) Are they wasting time or waiting for somebody to get out shower to do their hair, put their make up on?
Looks identical right?! There are moments in our lives where we are tempted to believe that what we are going through is a wasted experience. This relationship. These years. It can feel like we were in wrong place. But what if what we thought was wasted was just waiting. This give Joseph a different perspective.
NOTHING IN YOUR LIFE HAPPENS BY ACCIDENT. Need this slide.
(It’s here that we can clearly see that nothing in his life happened by accident. He doesn’t get to stand before Pharaoh by accident. This took some precision. It took some calculation. It took some rocket science to get him there! This is the moment in his life where dots are starting to add up. Because after two years God creates a situation for his name to be called at just the right. This is it! Hes thirty and its just making sense.
Can I prove it? Can I show you how God works? Two years later Pharaoh has a few dreams about cows and grain that he has no idea what they mean. Sounds familiar right? What are the chances that God speaks to Pharaoh in the same way God has spoken to Joseph? What are the chances that neither Pharoah nor anyone on his staff can interpret these dreams? And that’s when it happens!!!What are the chances that the cup bearer remembers Joseph’s name from two years ago. What are the chances that they have a unique need that now matches Joseph’s skills set?
Jospeh doesn’t just know how to interpret dreams but he knows what’s it’s like being burdened by dreams that no one can help you understand. He knows what’s it like not being able to connect the dots. This is not an accident. Everything had lined up…..Because if his name is mentioned before two years, there’s no need for him. Pharoah already had people he trusted to do this kind of work. It’s perfect timing. It’s a series of events that God has been able to orchestrate and allow in Joseph’s life that have led up to this moment.
The coat he wore. His birth order. The pit he was thrown in. The people he was sold to. The jobs that he had. The people he met. The disappointments. His skills. His dreams. None of it was an accident. All of it served a purpose. It was all connected. He didn’t always understand it at the time, but life is lived forwards but understood backwards.
The same is true for both you and I, nothing in our lives happen by accident (slide). Not everything has equal value, but it’s not an accident. The people you’ve met. The things you’ve seen, your passions, the jobs you’ve had, the things you’ve experienced, the lessons you’ve learned, the movies you like, the hobbies you enjoy, your childhood friends, your first date, the person who bags your groceries…. none of it was by accident. We are good as seeing the connections in the lives of the people but not in our own lives!
If he didn’t get thrown into the pit, then he doesn’t get to Egypt. If he doesn’t get to Egypt he doesn’t oversee Potiphar’s house or meet his wife. If he didn’t meet his wife then he didn’t get thrown in prison, if he didn’t get thrown in jail he doesn’t have the opportunity to meet the cupbearer. And if he doesn’t meet the cupbearer, he never gets out of this situation . Which means at every stage of the journey, as long as he was in Gods will he was right where he was supposed to be. Let me make this personal. Nothing in your life is an accident.
Which means at every stage of this journey, Joseph was right where God needed him to be.
Which means you are right where God needs you to be (slide). Today you are right where God needs you to be. It might seem like time is wasting, but you are right where God needs you to be. Wildness…Temporary. Season. Why clue why you are there. Doesn’t always feel good. Not always the most excitement…Not necessarily the most lucrative. YOU ARE RIGHT WHERE U NEED TO BE!
The past can haunt us or bless us.
When the situation arises Joseph is where God needs him to be. And the opportunity arises because of what he has done in the past. You see we often place a lot of emphasis on the past catching up to us. It’s a fear that the mistakes of our past will revisit us in the future. And there is some truth to that. I get it. We get to a point where we try to disconnect some of the dots! We don’t want to remember things from our past. We want them to stay in the past. I think we have love/hate relationships with our past.
But Joseph shows us a different way of looking at the past or Another way of looking at the dots. (Life if lived forward but understood backwards.) Joseph’s reminds us that the past doesn’t just haunt us, but the past can bless us. (Slide)
The reason Joseph’s name is mentioned is not because of what he’s done presently. It’s based on what he’s done previously. His name is recognized for something that he did for someone two years ago! The reason he gets called out of prison is based on the deeds of his past. They comeback to bless him. This is how dots connect.
God can use things in our past to open up doors in our present. Its how the dots connect.
This past Fall/Winter I had a chance to get published for the first time. The story behind it is pretty wild. Based off a past connection that happened over 10 years ago. When I was pastoring a really small church in south jersey, I was chosen with three other Pastors to visit this other Pastor in Houston Texas by the name of Rudy Rasmus. He was doing some really great ministry and they wanted us to see it up close. We stayed in touch loosely over the years, but a few years had passed and I got married. Nicole and I were on our honeymoon (28 day cruise) and as we were pulling up to our hotel in Rome, I spotted a 5’2 black man with beads in is braided beard wearing chuck taylors, I said “Baby its Rudy!” She said no it not!
What are the chances that we would see him and his wife in the middle of Rome? Sure enough it was him! What are the chances. Years go by, we loosely stay in touch. Somehow we connect on facebook and I tell him where Im moving and he says, o that’s crazy, I’m actually going to be in Indiana a lot because my daughter just moved there and I just bought a place Indy so we can visit our grandkids. What are the chances right?!?! So every time he comes into town we have lunch. One day he calls me and says, I’ve been talking to Abingdon Publishers about writing this book and I love for you to write a chapter. He says, I’m inviting some first time authors on the book so that you guys can get some exposure so that you can start working on your writing deals. The invation was based off a connection that started years ago!
Some blessings take a while to mature. Not every blessings blossoms in the same season it was planted. Some times they take months. Sometimes it takes two years for the cupbearer to remember the name.
If it’s true this means how we live today can create things that can bless us and connect years later. The trouble is you have no idea now what those things or people are. Can you imagine if Joseph entered that time in his life with the mindset of just going through the motions? Can u imagine if Joseph was saving his best for a later date? Save it until he gets back in a better position. Imagine if he comes to the cupbearer and the baker with mindset of this doesnt really matter. They don’t matter. One seemingly random, insignificant encounter in the middle of a jail cell changes to the trajectory of his life.
While he was waiting, not wasting in prison, how he treated two random persons in prison mattered. With no one watching, no one keeping score, he made that moment count. He took the time, listened, inquired, interpreted.
Because you never know what part of your past will be revisited.
All I’m simply saying is this, make it count. You never know what dot God will use as the reason our names will be mentioned. You never know which connection God will use. U never know who will show up in your years later. U never know who you will need or who will need you. U never know how a single interaction will show up two years late. So treat people well. Do right by others. Do your best. Take time for the things that are important. Show up. Because u never know that parts of your past will be recalled when the times comes. So make it count. Keep that phrase with you. Make it count. Use when u think you are in the wrong place. Use it when you get tired of waiting….
God works on us Privately before we are called out publicly.
Two years later his name is mentioned and he called out. He isn’t given any warning. Two years have gone by since we last saw him interpreting. If you’ve been following Joseph’s story, you know by now that this is not the same Joseph we met 4 weeks ago. He’s grown. He’s matured. He’s developed. Can I prove it?!
When we first met Joseph, he was a dreamer. In fact, much of the disconnect centered around the fact that he couldn’t interpret his own dreams. He couldn’t make sense of them. Now he’s
helping other people make sense of theirs. Do u see that transformation?! It used to be his crutch, now it’s his calling card. When what you couldn’t do becomes the very thing that God uses. He’s mastered what used to be a deficiency.
So by the time he’s called to stand before Pharoah, it’s not his first rodeo. For the past twelve years he’s been honing in on this skill. By the time he’s called to display this gift publicly, God has been working with him privately. These were not wasted years, but God was doing something with him in these years in waiting. The reason why the years aren’t wasted is not simply what we do with them, but what God is able to do with us in the waiting years.
Let me prove it. Over these past several weeks, I’ve been learning how to play golf. I played tons of sports growing but as I approach 40 my body isn’t as limber and malleable as it used to be, so I needed something less intense... (so I thought.) So I’ve been going out on Mondays with Steve Hill working on my game in private. He started it off teaching me how to hold a club. (He said I couldn’t hold it too tight). We worked on my stance. Worked on my grip. My swing. I go out in back yard and work on. I think I’ll be ready in another month or so. Because I’ve been doing a lot of work in private. Kids like to watch at me and laugh when I swing and miss. Now why didn’t Steve just take me out publicly and play 18 holes? It’s not the right time!!!!
This is the grace that often gives to us. This is why the waiting is never wasted. God is gracious enough to hide us until we are ready. God works on us privately before we are called out publicly (slide) God allows us to make mistakes in private. Miss shots in private. Get it wrong in private. Interpret dreams when the stakes aren’t so high. God gives us spaces to make complete fools of our selves in private so that we don’t make a complete fool of ourselves when the time comes. I can imagine that in those 12 or 2 years, Joseph didn’t always get it right.
By the time they call his name, Joseph gets a cut, stands before Pharoah, because it’s the right time. Because he is READY. Which means when the time right and God creates an opportunity for your name to be called, it means “YOUR READY”. (slide)
After two years, Pharoah had a need that matched his gifts. No one could interpret dreams, but the cup bearer remembered Joseph after two whole years. Somebody needs to hear this today, “You’re ready.” God calls us out when we are unqualified but not before we are ready.
If you connect the dots in Joseph’s life you know he’s ready. He’s more than ready. If it’s true for him sooner or later it has to be true for both you and I. This is why it’s important for you to connects the dots in your own life. Many people will never see the dreams God has for their lives for fear that we just arent ready. We will convince ourselves out of the very thing God is calling us to. I don’t know enough. Haven’t seen enough. But once you start connecting you will be able to see, o yeah I had this experience that taught me this. I had this experience that allowed me to work through some of that. I learned this over here. I learned from these mistakes. I realized I could handle more than what I thought I could. God I’ve seen you work time and time and time again. If I could get through that surely I can get through this.
You’ll begin to see that God was preparing you for this moment. You’ll be able to see that nothing was an accident. God was intentional. God was precise . A lot had to happen just right
for us to be where we are. If God us calling you out. You’re ready. You’re ready to take the next step in your faith. Your ready to lead the class. You’re ready to deal with what’s in front of you. You are ready for what you’ve been waiting for. Not a moment too soon and not a moment too late. Because our lives are proof that timing is everything.