I don’t know about you, but I have heard the stories of the men and women of the Bible more times than I can count. Names like Paul and Samuel, Ruth and Anna, John the Baptist and Abraham. I’ve read the stories and now have passed them on to my kids. I’ve used them many times in messages at church. In fact, just over a year ago I spent a tremendous amount of time looking at the life of Joseph and God’s work through him. Is it really possible to learn anything new?
God says that His Word is active and living. What that means is that even if I’ve read the same thing over and over again, His Spirit is constantly speaking new life into it. And, sure enough, as I was seeking God’s wisdom in preparation for this Sunday, He again showed me something new that I hadn’t thought about before. In the midst of all the lower story drama that Joseph had to deal with, God gave a glimpse into His Upper Story plan: “The Lord was with Joseph so that he prospered.”
That hit me hard. Joseph was going through terrible things, being accused falsely, hated, feeling alone and yet the Lord was with him so that he prospered. When I think back on my lower story, I’ve felt like Joseph many times. Sometimes, I could only just hang on because of the promise that He was with me. I would remind myself of Hebrews 13:5 so many times that I “knew” it so completely. But in all of my repeating of it, I missed another verse that went hand and hand with it, one that gave me an even greater glimpse into His Upper Story plan. I wouldn’t “just” make it because that was never His plan. His plan was that I would make it AND that He would redeem all of the lower story problems, issues, and sadness for my good. What Satan tried to use to bring me down and to hurt me, God uses those very same things for me to prosper!
Sometimes it seems that we know everything about the stories in the Bible. Yet, repetition has value because each time you hear the story, it lays a foundation of faith in your life. And that foundation is continually built on creating an opportunity to learn something fresh from God. For me, it took probably the thousandth time of hearing Joseph’s story to see God’s two-fold promise, but God is faithful to show Himself even in the “redundant.”