Taking The Jump

“Do you trust me?”

“What???”

“Do you trust me?!”

“Y-y-yes.”

“Then jump!”

And with that, Aladdin grabbed Princess Jasmine’s hand and they jumped off the balcony, landing on a tarp below and escaping their pursuers.

Since its release in 1992, this scene from the animated movie Aladdin has challenged me. If someone standing on a balcony asked me that question, how would I respond? I guess it depends on the size of my pursuers. And my trust in the person extending his hand.

Not so oddly enough, all four of our readings today somehow relate to trusting God—his power, his wisdom, his heart.

Read carefully and observantly, because God might be speaking to you.

TODAY’S READING

Genesis 44:1-45:28
Matthew 14:13-36
Psalm 18:37-50
Proverbs 4:11-13

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INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS

Genesis 44. I’ve often wondered why Joseph toyed with his brothers like he did. He may have wanted to vent some “passive” aggression on them because of what they did to him. But I wonder his intentions were to place them in a position where they could explain their actions to Joseph back in the day—without realizing they were explaining it to their brother. He may have wanted them to own their transgression and regret it. He may have also wanted to know them better in order to decide whether or not he would offer them provision in the midst of a drought. Most of all, I think Joseph wanted to know if his life—and loss—meant anything to his family (especially Jacob), regardless of his present status and ability to rescue them (see Genesis 44:20, 27-29).

Genesis 44:5. The Bible Background Commentary explains, “Just as tea leaves are read today, the ancients read omens by means of liquid in cups. One mechanism involved the pouring of oil onto water to see what shapes it would take (called lecanomancy)…More popular methods of divination used everyday occurrences, configurations of the entrails of sacrificed animals or the movements of the heavenly bodies. Another technique, hydromancy, made its observations from the reflections in the water itself.”

Genesis 44:18-34. Notice who comes to the defense of Benjamin and offers himself in place of his brother: Judah. He’s the one who proposed the idea of selling Joseph into slavery (Genesis 37:27). Just as significant, this was a son of Leah laying down his life for a son of Rachel. The family hostilities had come to an end!

Genesis 45:24. Joseph joked with his brothers not to quarrel on their return to Canaan because when they were younger, the family was deeply divided between Rachel’s side and Leah’s.

Matthew 14:13-21. Jesus withdrew to a solitary place because he had just heard that his cousin John the Baptist was beheaded. John wasn’t just a cousin, he was a ministry partner of Jesus, the appointed person to prepare the way. It was also likely a reminder to Jesus of the death that awaited him.

I’m also struck by the fact that in his grief, Jesus still gave himself away to the people. He healed, taught, and fed them.

Matthew 14:19. By giving thanks and breaking the loaves, this intentionally foreshadows the last supper.

Matthew 14:27. Literally, Jesus’ response was “I, I am” (rather than “It is I”). The Hebrew name for God is translated “I am.” In emphasizing himself before saying “I am,” Jesus was stressing his divinity—and his power over the storm. The disciples’ response? “[They] worshiped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God’” (Matthew 14:33).

Matthew 14:29-30. Walking on the water—and then sinking—was probably the safest place in the world at that moment.

Proverbs 11:13. This verse fits well into today’s theme: “Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life.” God is the best teacher: he knows our strengths, weaknesses, shadows, learning styles, etc. Not only does he work for the good in our lives, but he also uses everything to instruct us for our good. God’s instruction is life-giving. For that reason, he tells us to hold onto it. Remember it. Savor it. Meditate on it. Live it.

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THE WORD MADE FRESH

“So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God.” Genesis 45:8

Every time I read this story, Joseph’s ability to forgive astounds me. The years could have turned him into a bitter person, but he chose to keep his heart soft toward the brothers who sold him into slavery. At a minimum, he could have sold grain to his brothers and left them to fend for themselves for the remainder of the drought.

This brings me back to an overarching theme in Scripture that I can’t escape: God’s perspective on pain is immensely different than ours. In the moment, our pain or frustration may feel unbearable, but the last chapter hasn’t unfolded. I heard author Larry Crabb once say, “God will only do good in the lives of his people.” Romans 8:28 bears this out: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

This begs the deeper question: do we trust God’s heart? Do we really believe that God is good and that he only works for the good of those who love him?

If so, then our present pain or frustration means that the last chapter hasn’t unfolded. It’s already been written, but it hasn’t been read…by you, at least. And it may not even conclude until we step into eternity.

In an earlier season of my life, I was forced out of a job by a supervisor with less-than-noble intentions—at least from my perspective. To this day, I fight the temptation of becoming embittered by the experience. But two insights help my heart remain soft: 1. God could have prevented it but didn’t—our readings in Matthew and the Psalms affirms God’s power; and 2. The next faze of my life brought me into a new season of growth and fruitfulness.

If you’re in the middle of a painful chapter in your life, remember this:

  1. God is good.
  2. If you’re committed to him, he will only work good in your life.
  3. The last chapter of your life has yet to unfold.

And because of that, you can trust his heart.

CONVERSATION STARTERS

  1. What spoke to your heart in today’s reading?
  2. How has God redeemed pain in your life?
  3. If your life was a book, what would the title be? How far have you progressed into the book?
  4. What storms are you encountering? In what ways is Jesus asking you, “Do you trust me?”
  5. How do you hold on to God’s life-giving instruction?

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