By: Steve Wilmot
Every New Year’s Day opens a new chapter where you record the events of your life. On January 1, it’s a clean, white page with nothing on it — no words, no smudges, no coffee stains. It waits for you to write how you live your life over the new year.
You alone get to choose what’s written on those blank pages. It’s the story of your life and the decisions you make over the course of an entire year… and then you get to start a new chapter.
Like any book, the story of your life has a beginning, a middle, and an end. The early chapters are full of excitement, romance, dreams, hopes, and laughter. The last chapters remain an unknown mystery.
Today, you’re living in the middle. The middle is the hardest part of the storyline. It’s where frustration and disappointment happen.
Where you give up on your dreams because they’ve morphed into an impossibility. Unexpected trials and tragedies are the norm. Pain and heartache are your next-door neighbors.
You can’t see how the story turns out. You’d like to jump ahead to the last few pages and read how it ends, but life doesn’t give you that option. All you can do is try to make it through another day.
That’s where we find Joseph. He’s living in the middle of his story. In the early chapters, Joseph was the Golden Boy. Out of his 11 sons, Jacob loved him the most. Neither of them tried to hide it.
God birthed a vision of his future destiny — a leader among leaders — and he made sure his brothers never forgot it.
But in the next several chapters, the plot thickens. Joseph’s brothers almost killed him; he’s sold as a slave and taken to Egypt; Potiphar takes him home as his slave; Mrs. Potiphar accuses him of attempted rape; he’s tossed into prison.
We can study Joseph’s story and see how God put everything together. We’ve read the final chapter. We know it has a happy ending.
But Joseph didn’t have that vantage point. He’s living in the middle of it. All he can do is trust God to be faithful to his promise. Cling to hope that the Author of his story wasn’t making it up as he went along. Surrender control of his life to God.
There are lessons you can’t learn anywhere else but in the middle. Nothing is random. God carefully plans each challenge with a target in view — to mold Joseph’s character and position him to meet the next person he needs to meet to get him in place to fulfill his destiny.
Wouldn’t your story be easier to deal with if God told you how it ends? How each incident fits into the story? Just a sneak peek at the last few pages. Then you would smack your forehead and say, “Oh, now I see what God was doing there.”
But God doesn’t do that — not for Joseph or for you. He doesn’t show you what’s happening behind the scenes. You aren’t privy to how it will end.
He just tells you to trust he knows what he’s doing and where he’s taking you and that you will eventually live happily ever after. God wants you to surrender control of your life.
“In the normal life experience of suffering, getting knocked down emotionally, physically, or spiritually, not knowing how a situation will turn out, rejection, being mistreated, having all your plans explode into ruin… it’s hard to get on your knees and surrender to the God who is actually in control.” (Laura Story).
Joseph, in his heart of hearts, realized God’s plans were better than his. So, he surrendered to whatever came his way. He answered the Big Question — Can I trust God? — with a resounding yes.
You can respond to troubles in the middle chapters of your life like Joseph did. Two truths stabilized Joseph through every new shocking development in his life: He recognized God was in control of all the events and the direction of his life. He knew God was a promise keeper who always did what he said he would do.
This is the key that enables you to respond to the surprising developments in the middle chapters of the storyline of your life.
But you must be fully persuaded God is in control, and he makes good on his promises. A wishy-washy faith won’t do. Only surrender.
Corrie ten Boom, who had her share of struggles in life, said, “When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw away your ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer.”
That’s how you live in the middle chapters of your life — trust your faithful God. As you begin the next chapter of your life story, you might find it beneficial to arrange a few moments to read Deuteronomy 31.8 — “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you or forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
Let that sink in as you pick up your pen and write the next chapter of your story. (This was taken from a chapter in Steve’s devotional book, “30 Days with Joseph.”)
Steve Wilmot is a former Edgerton, Ohio area pastor who now seeks “to still bear fruit in old age” through writing. He is the author of seven books designed to assist believers to make steady progress on their spiritual journey.