“What’s the first rule, Kayla?” says a very patient and friendly Jason in his Orange Oasis Kids T-shirt.
“Raise your hand!” Cute 3rd grader Kayla with her pink shoes and bright smile yells her response and shoots her hand in the air in one dramatic swoop of energy (at this point in our Oasis Kids Elementary Service, I am now realizing that most children at this age have yet to learn the true meaning of “inside voices”).
“That’s right, Kayla. What is it?”
“I didn’t get my apple.” Kayla is very concerned by this. Without an apple she won’t be able to participate in the game, and therefore crush her opponents in the line next to her. Don’t let Kayla’s cute demeanor fool you; she is a fierce little competitor.
Another children’s worker, Lori-Ann, hands her an apple. Crisis diverted. ☺
Throughout the hour and a half I spent with Oasis Kids yesterday, I found myself quietly chuckling at the cuteness and hilarity I found observing around 50 little Oasisians…our future worship leaders and connect group leaders and entrepreneurs and writers and pastors and artists and government officials. They all have such great purposes in Christ; and watching them worship Jesus and learn Bible stories and pray and recite Bible verses… well, it’s truly inspiring!
But it’s also funny, because for all their spiritual awareness and epic purpose, they are still kids…and kids are funny!
Little Tony points to the boy standing next to him and exclaims in the middle of game time, “He’s being rude to me!”
Sibi smiles proudly and shouts in triumph, “I found it! I found it first!” referring to his ability to locate Ephesians 4:2 in his bible.
Arielle twirls and smiles in her white skirt when I tell her how pretty she looks.
River walks with a swagger after he gets chosen to be one of the team captains.
These children spent an hour and a half in their classroom—the stars of their own movies. They were center-stage, each fully engrossed in their needs and wants… Human nature revealed in its purest form.
It struck me that we never really outgrow the tendency to see the world in much of the same way. We move to LA. We pursue a career. We get involved in church life. We meet a guy. We meet a girl. We get married. We get promoted. And so forth. The pages of our lives seem centered on us. What’s happening to us? What do we want? What’s next for us? What’s in it for us?
In Genesis 37-50, we read about the story of Joseph. Or at least, I used to think it was the story of Joseph. I’ve read these chapters before, but reading it this time around with our church as part of the Bible Reading Plan (check it out at www.PhilipWagner.com), I started to notice phrases in scripture presenting an entirely new theme…
“God was with Joseph and things went very well with him. He ended up living in the home of his Egyptian master. His master recognized that God was with him, saw that God was working for good in everything he did.” –Genesis 39 MSG
“The head jailer gave Joseph free rein, never even checked on him, because God was with him; whatever he did God made sure it worked out for the best.” -Genesis 39 MSG
Joseph said, “Don’t interpretations come from God? Tell me the dreams.” -Genesis 40 MSG
16 Joseph answered, “Not I, but God. God will set Pharaoh’s mind at ease.” -Genesis 41 MSG
“God is letting Pharaoh in on what he is going to do.” -Genesis 41 MSG
“God has given you the inside story…” –Genesis 41 MSG
“Then Pharaoh gave Joseph an Egyptian name, Zaphenath-Paneah (God Speaks and He Lives).” -Genesis 41 MSG
“God was behind it. God sent me here ahead of you to save lives.” -Genesis 45 MSG
…Joseph may have been a part of the story, but he isn’t the main character of Genesis 37-50. God is. God used Joseph in His kindness to accomplish His plans.
We can’t deny it was God’s story all along. Think about this. Egypt was the most powerful nation in the world at the time of Joseph. God positioned Joseph to be in Egypt, and to be discovered by those close to Pharaoh, the most influential man in the world. It was God who gave Pharaoh dreams that needed interpreting; and it was God who gave Joseph the interpretations.
And here’s the best part: Joseph was given the power and responsibility to provide food to those suffering from a great famine. And when people from all over the world traveled to seek provision, do you know who they asked for? Not Pharaoh. They asked for Joseph, a man known to them only by his Egyptian name, Zaphenath-Paneah. They would literally ask for “God Speaks and He Lives” in order to receive provision.
Joseph’s life was the stage in which God was the Savior for all mankind!
Perhaps, it’s not our story after all. Perhaps, the greatest adventure life could offer is one where we are not the main character. We are not the ones in the spotlight, in the center stage.
Jesus is. It’s His story He is writing through our lives; one in which we are always provided for, continually amazed by, and unconditionally loved through.
But it’s His story. It’s His salvation story that He is putting on display through our daily lives.
We wake up asking God, “What are You writing today? And how can I be a part of Your story?” We read our Bibles, we pray and we listen for the Holy Spirit to direct us.
We go to work with awareness that at any moment the Holy Spirit will use us… in a conversation with a co-worker, in a board meeting, behind the counter at Starbucks, in an email to a potential client.
In the evening, we catch up with a friend, have dinner with the family, read books, watch movies; always on the hunt for what God is doing.
And in our last awake moments, before we close our eyes and our mind on the day that has unfolded, we thank God that He is writing the best story one could ever write in the daily pages of our lives!
A story of salvation. A story on display for the world to see… A story centered around Jesus.