November 16, 2006

Saturday's Sweats and Sunday's Gown by Pamela Mytroen

I love dressing up on Sunday. My favourite dress is a burgundy rayon with a crossover opening and pewter buttons in a long line down the side. And it’s gorgeous with antique silver and burgundy jewelry. But before I can dress up on Sunday I have to slop around the day before in my Saturday sweats or my white-blotched paint shirt. Mopping the floor on my hands and knees has to be done before I can stand and praise on Sunday.

Sometimes Saturday feels really long and I begin to feel that laundry is the never ending story.

A young man from Canaan once felt the same way. The Saturday of his life lasted 13 years before the Sunday of celebration. He had dreams of wearing royal robes and of being a great leader over his people. But before his dreams were reached, he had to slop around in some undesirable clothing too.

He started out in a beautiful embroidered robe, made especially for him by his father, Jacob, to show special love and attention. His jealous brothers ripped it off Joseph, threw him in a pit and sold him as a slave.

Joseph exchanged his beautiful robe for rags of slavery. He served Potiphar, captain of the guard in Egypt. During that time his rags fit him well. They taught him to serve others, work hard, to be honest and trustworthy. He grew from a 17 year old who was used to his father’s lavish care to a young man who depended on his Father in Heaven to watch over him in a strange land.

He was promoted from the rags of slavery to the garment of leadership in Potiphar’s household. He enjoyed wearing this new robe, giving orders to the other servants and being in charge of all Potiphar’s crops. But it didn’t last long. God had another robe in mind for Joseph

That was the day that Potiphar’s wife set up Joseph. When he was all alone in the house doing his work, she tugged on his cloak and invited him to lay with her. Joseph ran right out of his robe as he fled temptation. Potiphar’s wife used the robe in her hand as evidence against Joseph and her husband sent him to jail.

This wasn’t the promotion Joseph was hoping for. Once again he wore the lowly rags of a prisoner. Here he spent the darkest, most despondent years of his life. It was there in the darkness that he sharpened his eyesight to see God. It was there on his knees that he laid down his own dreams and began giving life to the dreams of others. When Pharoah threw his chief wine-taster and chief baker into the dungeon, Joseph cared for them. He prayed for them and God gave him the meaning to their dreams. Two more years passed while God continued preparing Joseph for robes of royalty.

Finally the day came when Pharoah called Joseph up from the dungeon. When Pharoah asked Joseph to interpret his dreams, he said, “I cannot. But God can”.

At last, Joseph had grown out of his childish robes of pride into a royal robe of humility. Pharoah placed a fine linen robe on his shoulders and paraded him through the streets, saying to all the people of Egypt, “Bow down, bow down!”

Thirteen years – that’s how long Joseph wore servile clothing, while waiting to be clothed as royalty.

Sometimes we, too, wear a robe of darkness and despair. We can’t see God. But God may be using that time to sharpen our vision of Him, to grow us from pride to humility, from trust in ourselves to dependence upon God alone.

C.S. Lewis in his poem, “As the Ruin Falls” says this:
“... And everything you are was making
My heart into a bridge by which I might get back
From exile and grow man.”

God takes all the experiences of our lives and uses them to grow us from exile to maturity.

C.S. Lewis continues:
“The pains You give me are more precious than all other gains.”

Whatever pains we are going through on Saturday will prepare us for the robes of Sunday. Whatever our dream gown is, it will not fit until we allow God to grow us.

Like Christian in “Pilgrim’s Progress”, we won’t stay in the dark Dungeon of Despair. Through prayer, God will release us with the key of promise, as Christian discovered.

It may take 13 years as in Joseph’s case or it may be sooner, but persevere! God is growing you while you are on your knees scrubbing at your dreams. He’s preparing a beautiful gown for the Sunday of celebration!

Isaiah 61:10 “I delight greatly in the Lord; for my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness” (NIV).

~ Pam Mytroen



4 comments:

  1. Pam, thank you for this added dimension to my favorite OT story, and for reminding me of 1 Peter 5:10, "And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast." What with all that is going on in my life right now, I needed to hear it again.

    elsie (www.livingmyfaith.blogspot.com)

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  2. Your Sunday get-up sounds gorgeous! Great tie-in with the Joseph story (although I must admit, I love the shleppy clothes I wear on Saturday - of course, they're not striped).

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  3. I liked your comment that Saturday's pains prepare us for Sunday's celebration. We don't always enjoy the work of Saturday, and it sometimes hard to remember the purpose of it, especially when we can't see the end of it. Thanks for the reminder that God is fitting our "dream gown" for us!

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  4. Pam,what a thought provoking piece!
    I could certainly liken it to my own experiences. I love the fact that God is growing me while I'm on my knees, and I love the fact that I've experienced His joy as I grow in Him!
    Mary

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