This is The Way: Mandalorians, Jedis, Delayed Dreams and Deferred Hope (Genesis 37:5-11)

I… am…a…. SURVIVOR.  I took a deep breath, buckled down, stared hard into the hopeless, painful darkness… and I SURVIVED.   I am proud to share with all of you that I have survived the first Mandalorian-less Friday of the new year.  Please resist the urge to place me on a pedestal… I am just a humble human like you and I am sure you were probably struggling as well, frantically clicking on that Disney+ app just in case they accidentally put some fresh new Mandalorian content on there.  But this is what this bleak future looks like for us… Friday’s are now unfortunately devoid of Baby Yodas, shiny metal helmets, and nail-biting shootouts.  Just keep chanting with me, “This is the way…. this is the way…. this is the way.”  We will get through this.  Together.

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Fortunately, I have Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order on my Xbox 1 to scratch my Star Wars itch for a little while.  I am pleased to report that to this point I am mostly satisfied with my journey in the shoes of Cal Kestis, a Jedi who has the responsibility of protecting the identities of the few remaining Jedi in the universe from the Empire all while slowly (and I do mean SLOWLY) reconnecting with his force powers.  This game is yet another example of the “amnesiac-style” protagonist who conveniently cannot do ANY of his cool stuff until much later in the game.  (If you are interested we covered this concept previously at this link below:)

Metroid Prime: Solving the Problem of a Powerless Power Suit (1 Peter 4:12-13)

https://wordpress.com/post/findinggodintheworldofvideogames.wordpress.com/3821

Let me give you a frustrating example… I am a fully-fledged Jedi, complete with a lightsaber and a handful of useful Force skills.  I have already unlocked the double-bladed lightsaber on Dathomir.  I am feeling pretty ninja-tastic, even with the knowledge that I still have many more Force powers to unlock.  I can mow down Stormtroopers with ease, deflect their blaster bolts back at them, run along walls, and push enemies and objects using nothing but my MIND.  These would seem to be useful enough tools to achieve most of my goals.  But unfortunately, in video games with great power comes even greater skill trees.  And I am missing something I absolutely NEED.

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Apparently, I am missing a “scomp link”.  Yeah, you probably have one of those just hanging around somewhere in your home, right?  In a junk drawer somewhere?  Maybe in the glove box of your car?  By the way, why do we even still call this a glove box?  Who is not only bringing gloves everywhere they go in their car, but enough that they need a WHOLE COMPARTMENT for them?  How many gloves did they think they would need?  Sorry, I got side-tracked.  We were talking about something… oh YES, that stupid scomp link.  I mean, what even IS that?  All I know is that without it apparently my little droid companion cannot open ANY of these beautiful boxes of loot scattered around the level that I have to keep bypassing.

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My problems with this are two-fold.  First, I KNOW that these boxes must hold some incredibly awesome goodies that I really REALLY want.  Maybe some new gear, perhaps some extra lightsaber options… all I know is it must be SOMETHING really good or it wouldn’t be lying out here in the open locked up in a box.  But that is not the largest cause of my disappointment… what I am MOST frustrated about is this means I will have to BACKTRACK and come back through this area again in the future if I ever want to see what’s in the box.

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I don’t even know if it will be WORTH it, because I have no idea what is actually in the box.  But if I ever want to see it, I am going to have to wait until I have found this “scomp link”, repaired my little robot friend, flown BACK across the galaxy, and then walk all the way back to this box to see if it was worth the journey.  Oh, did I mention that all of my enemies will have respawned so I will have to fight them again as well?  Yep, all of this pointless backtracking and walking and extra hacking and slashing JUST TO SEE if this box held something worth the hassle.  Here I am, this powerful Jedi with a LIGHTSABER that can cut through almost anything… and yet I am stymied by whatever locking mechanism is holding this box closed.  Apparently it is lightsaber proof.  I have heard stories of such things.

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The funny thing is we all get to experience this exact same disappointing adventure in life more times than we care to admit.  How many times have you had a big dream, an outstanding idea, or a vision for the future that you are anxious to launch but that box just won’t seem to open?  You KNOW this was meant for you… even DESTINED for you.  You feel it in your bones, you see it in your dreams… but no matter how hard you try to make it happen that darned box just sits there holding your ambitions inside and ignoring your attempts at progress.  Once again, we are in good company.  Let’s start with this wise nugget found in Proverbs…

Proverbs 13:12 Hope deferred makes the heart sick, But when the desire comes, it is a tree of life.

What we are dealing with is not a lack of hope, but of hope “deferred”, meaning to be put off to a later time or postponed.  And few people have experienced this to the depth of our character study today, Joseph.  In Genesis 37 we find the beginnings of this young man and his God-given dreams:

Genesis 37:5-11 Now Joseph had a dream, and he told it to his brothers; and they hated him even more. So he said to them, “Please hear this dream which I have dreamed: There we were, binding sheaves in the field. Then behold, my sheaf arose and also stood upright; and indeed your sheaves stood all around and bowed down to my sheaf.”  And his brothers said to him, “Shall you indeed reign over us? Or shall you indeed have dominion over us?” So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words. Then he dreamed still another dream and told it to his brothers, and said, “Look, I have dreamed another dream. And this time, the sun, the moon, and the eleven stars bowed down to me.” So he told it to his father and his brothers; and his father rebuked him and said to him, “What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall your mother and I and your brothers indeed come to bow down to the earth before you?”  And his brothers envied him, but his father kept the matter in mind.

Those dreams are certainly not going to make for very comfortable Thanksgiving dinner conversations, that’s for certain.  There is more to unpack here than we have time to digest, but in synopsis Joseph received these very large dreams from God indicating that he had QUITE the future awaiting him.  As the second-youngest of his twelve brothers, his position was already precarious and the idea that he would have any level of authority over his older brothers was pretty preposterous.  But these dreams pointed to something even bigger than that… a massive destiny that would even have his parents bowing down to him.  Big dreams… but with even larger delays ahead.

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Joseph’s “Journey to Dreamland” is filled with the WORST kind of back-tracking… regression.  Joseph goes from being the favorite son to a slave, and then from a slave to an imprisoned slave.  All along the way he experiences delay after delay as his dreams seem farther and farther away from becoming achievable.  I believe many of us experience the same seeming regression… we can see the Promised Land when we close our eyes, but when we open them our situation just seems to be getting worse and worse.  The vision we had in our youth is now getting tarnished by graying hair, worn out bodies, piled up debts, health challenges, the daily monotony of just trying to get diapers changed and dinner on the table… LIFE just starts sucking all of the hope right out of our eyeballs making us wonder if those big dreams were ever true to begin with.

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Fortunately, I have some good news for Joseph and with proper application for us as well.  Joseph’s dreams were not cancelled… just deferred.  He had a lot of personal growth and skills that he needed to gain prior to ascending to his dream, skills that could only be forged in the cleansing crucible of the very challenging life that the Lord had placed before him.  On the surface it looked like his visions were simply the stuff of a child’s imagination, and it seemed as if he was just slogging his way through some very discouraging pathways towards an unmarked grave outside of a prison in Egypt.  But God had never deviated from His plan for Joseph, which required him to grow underground long before it was time for him to face the sunlight.  Much like a flower or a tree growing roots to sustain itself, the backtracking and regression Joseph experienced was designed to insure he had the strength of character and the skill set needed to take ownership of the dream that God had placed in him decades before.

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It may take longer than you desire, but if you remain faithful eventually you will find your “scomp link” that will enable you to open every pathway that has been designed for you to walk on.  I want to encourage you today that regardless of how many times you find yourself staring at a metaphorical “box” in life that just won’t seem to open there IS a plan.  Our loving God does not give us these dreams to torment us, but to provide us with an awareness that there is something even greater than we are currently holding that we are continuing to move towards.

Joseph probably could have lived a peaceful existence as his father’s favorite son if he had never had those dreams.  But there was a day coming when famine would overtake the entire land, and thanks to the seemingly regressive path Joseph had walked he was the ONLY one in a position to both save his family as well as the entire country from certain disaster.  THIS is what he had dreamed of… but it did not manifest itself until both the external conditions of the world around him as well as the internal character and skills of Joseph had reached their full maturity.  It can be hard to be patient when you have that fire burning in your belly… trust me, I am right there with you.  But I can assure you that God’s purpose will be gloriously revealed at the exact moment when your preparation is fully aligned with the external need that you were chosen to fill before you were even conceived.  The wait, the backtracking, and the stalling can be INCREDIBLY frustrating when you can practically TASTE the fulfillment of your dreams… but don’t lose faith.

This is the Way.

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