Discover His heart: He takes us through the fire to bring humility to our hearts
Unless gluten intolerance is a problem, whole wheat bread products are considered to be good for us I do my best to avoid what many believe to be the enemy of healthy nutrition, that being all things white – rice, flour, potatoes. However, there’s nothing like the crusty white bread that waiters at Italian restaurants place right in front of my Italian nose. I sometimes go ahead and indulge with the understanding that anything soaked in olive oil must be good for me. In reality, I know this isn’t exactly true, but at that moment, it works for me. Life is good.
I’ve learned to replicate this delicious bread at home, crusty on the outside, warm and tender on the inside, by placing an uncut loaf of bread on the oven rack at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes. In all fairness, I will admit that most whole grain loaves of bread work just as well. The bread comes out of the oven firm and crusty on the outside, but because of the steam that develops in it, it’s warm and tender on the inside. It takes some heat to get it to this point, but it is well worth the effort. Sometimes it takes a little time under the fire to make us tender on the inside as well. After time spent in the heat, Joseph appeared hard and crusty on the outside, but on the inside, he was warm and tender.
Sold as a slave and imprisoned when just a teenage boy, Joseph spent 13 years being processed by the Lord, under the heat if you will, to become the second in command of all of Egypt at the age of 30. This would be a heady position for anyone, but after coming through the fire as he did, Joseph was humble with a servant’s heart. Through His process, Joseph was transformed from a proud, arrogant young man to a humble servant of God, but the acid test for him was at the meeting of his older brothers.
@ Genesis 42
“Since Joseph was governor of all Egypt and in charge of selling grain to all the people, it was to him that his brothers came. When they arrived, they bowed before him with their faces to the ground. Joseph recognized his brothers instantly, but he pretended to be a stranger and spoke harshly to them. ‘Where are you from?’ he demanded.” (6-7) Well, Joseph certainly appeared crusty on the outside! But after Joseph heard their regrets over their past sins regarding him, “He turned away from them and began to weep. When he regained his composure, he spoke to them again.” (24) Joseph – tender on the inside.
This is when an unchanged man would have jumped up and said in retaliation, “Ah ha! I have you now! Prison for you!” But not Joseph. Joseph wept. Of all the examples in the Bible of mercy and grace, for me, the story of Joseph is second only to that of Jesus. Because of Joseph’s heart, the family of Jacob was saved from starvation and grew to be the mighty nation of Israel.
When we respond with a heart of restoration rather than one of retaliation towards those who have hurt us, we are living proof of a changed heart. Sometimes events in our lives may toughen up our skin a little, and that’s not always bad, but if our hearts remain soft and pliable towards others, we will be motivated to restore relationships rather than destroy them. This is when God knows He can use us for a greater purpose in His Kingdom as He did with Joseph. Peter said it this way, “So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor.” (I Peter 5:6)
Moving Forward: My prayer today – Lord, keep me warm and tender on the inside, always seeking to bring healing and restoration in every situation.
Tomorrow @ I Samuel 1-5