Have you ever encountered an “unsafe” person? Dee Brestin describes them as alligators in her book The Friendships of Women. They can inflict wounds that go beyond surface scratches, leaving scars from their bites. She explains, “Alligators demonstrate a pattern of destruction. Every rose has a few thorns, but an alligator is covered with them.”
When Joseph’s brother travel to Egypt to buy grain, he recognizes them immediately. However, they see only an Egyptian offical as his style of hair and dress as well as the years apart camoflauge him from them. Now they have reappeared in his life, but Joseph doesn’t immediately reveal himself. He first needs to determine their character. He hasn’t seen them in so long, and he has changed much over the course of time while serving in Potiphar’s house, enduring prison, and serving as a royal official under Pharaoh.
Now he needs to see what his brothers are really like. When he was seventeen, he didn’t realize how unsafe they were until he was pleading with them from the bottom of a pit. He won’t make the same mistake again. So he sets up opportunities to test them and evaluate whether he can reconcile with them and invite his wife and children into relationship with them. In the meantime, he would like to see his father and younger brother. While he tests to see if the brothers merely have thorns or continue to be alligators, it appears that he seeks God’s wisdom for each step of discovery.
Can you remember a time when you have tested to evaluate whether a particular relationship fell into the rose with thorns or alligator category? How did the time of testing reveal the character of the individual?
Under pressure, our true natures are exposed. When conflict or difficulty puts our relationships to the test, we must seek God’s help to determine whether our pain is simply a surface scratch or an alligator bite so that we can know what next steps to take. Joseph is about to embark on a roller coaster ride of ups and downs in his relationships with his brothers.
Where are things at today in your marriage, friendships, extended family relationships? If you aren’t sure whether things are physically and emotionally safe for reconcilliation yet, learn from Joseph to exercise caution and ask God to give you clear direction as you proceed on your own journey of forgiveness.
(Joseph: The Journey to Forgiveness hit shelves on August 4th! You can order from Christianbook.com for $11.99 by following this link: http://bit.ly/1UmsVgn)