An unlikely path called Rejection
The house is quiet today. In my cherished winter spot on the couch, I shift, turning my body, coffee in hand, so that the tree is just before me. Nearby, the lamp spills golden light at my back, illuminating the pages as I read. The tree, though…
In the chaos of a Christmas tree lot this year, a certain decision was made, one for which I cannot be blamed as I was holding a spot in the line. In the perfect marriage that’s become a holiday tradition, our favorite ice-cream joint opens up at Christmas to sell fresh-cut trees and treats by the pint. Knowing that it’s our last chance before spring, we have learned to load up on pints. They must last us for long winter weeks and then months.
Mint chip, toasted coconut, chocolate, lemon, raspberry, cookies and cream, and white chocolate chip. Like a general, I extract each person’s orders, still anchoring that spot in the line. The wind blows cold. Meanwhile, Team Schrock is choosing a tree, which appears to be the size Goliath might have chosen. It covers 2 counties and 3 zip codes in our not-Goliath-sized home. Oy vey.
“The tree is too big. Will you believe me next time?” says the father of the choosers grimly, eyeing its vast width and depth.
“We didn’t pry open your wallet,” says one of the misguided choosers. We howl, then we sigh, and we keep stringing lights.
Anyway. In the lovely quiet, I turn my face toward the tree. The lights, the greens, all of them speak, and the witness they give is Hope. And I think of Joseph.
How often I have meditated on his story, his life. From this point in history, we know the plot. We know the players. We know about the prison, and we know (and love) the palace. What a story. What encouragement it gives now centuries later.
What struck me today is what brought me here to tell you. In this high and holy season, I write this for the ones for whom holidays are dread-full. I write this for those who suffer from rejection, who struggle to know the cheer and the hope of this season. Here’s what Joseph’s story means for you.
It was the rejection of Joseph’s family and his cruel ejection from the circle that propelled him into God’s plan for his life. There is no way to soften this truth, so I won’t.
Because his brothers rejected him and sent him away in such a brutal fashion, it put him on the path that he would never have found if he had been loved and accepted; if he had belonged.
He was thrown into a pit. He was sold into slavery. He found favor in Potiphar’s house, but then came a false accusation, years of imprisonment, and the reality of being forgotten once again by someone he helped while there. Surely, surely he doubted and questioned the dreams God gave him as a boy. Surely he did, for he was as human as you and I.
But one day came the call that changed it all. In one moment of time, he went from a prison cell to the palace. From prison clothes to royal robes. From shame and injustice to favor and glory. Why? He was faithful, and God had a plan all along.
In all those years of abandonment by humans, God had never left him. In all the long, silent days of drudgery and slavery and injustice, God had not overlooked him. In all of those hard, lonely years, God was working. He was setting the whole, grand plan in place. And then came the day.
My friend, if you have suffered such rejection, take heart, for it just may be God’s way of propelling you to your spot in history. It may be the route by which He’s guiding you to your destiny. Things are seldom as they appear, and we walk by faith, not by sight.
The amazing, incomprehensible plot twist in Joseph’s story is this–that his placement in the palace saved the lives of those who had sent him away in the first place! God did the humbling work (not Joseph), and when the time was right, He brought them to him. There in that royal place, Joseph found the grace to forgive and to bless. Reconciliation came in the most unlikely of ways, and they were reunited at last.
May this encourage your heart, comfort your weary mind, and strengthen your tired legs. Emmanuel! God is with us.
Christmas has always been bittersweet for me. I usually go into it with high hopes for a wonderful time of change. Change in my family, change in my extended family, and change in me. I can remember many times driving home after the Christmas gathering with a distinct let-down feeling. The story of Joseph does definitely give me hope. Dee and I met with some friends yesterday, one who follows you closely. I told her that I hadn’t read any of your writings lately, so on this early Saturday morning I looked you up. I’m praying for you and your family this Christmas season. By the way, I’m not sure if you get cousin Elma and Dena’s (Uncle Levi’s daughters) Christmas cards and letters, but they told a funny story about how they got stuck on a “party bus” recently in Nashville, Tennessee. Dee and I laughed at it. Elma ended her letter with Christ’s love “from the White House”. That is really funny because they live in a little white house on Uncle Levi’s property. I really love our cousins Elma and Dena. Dena and I have in common a love to feed birds. She, along with a neighbor, inspired me to start feeding orioles this last spring. I simply loved watching the colorful orioles for a month or two.
Arlen, how wonderful to hear from you again! I surely do remember those cousins. No, I don’t get their letters, but I have fond memories of them. They were always very warm and friendly.
I hope that you’re loving retirement. Thank you so much for your prayers. Give my warm regards to Dee, please.
God bless you.