Joseph spent a long time in an in-between place. Even while in prison, he held to his clear dreams of leadership and authority which bared no resemblance to the landscape of servitude he now lived in. Had God forgotten him? Some days it might have seemed that way as he wore shackles on his feet and an iron collar around his neck.
Joseph believed that God was working out His invisible plans even during dark days. Though he lived on the “bottom floor” of prison, somehow he trusted that there was a “second story”—an upper level where God was doing a work. Joseph couldn’t understand it, but he chose to believe there was a greater plan. Warren Wiersbe writes, “Joseph had time to think and pray and to ponder the meaning of the two dreams God had sent him. He would learn that God’s delays are not God’s denials.”2
Joseph’s dream began to come true as he was given a new name, new title as second in command of Egypt, and a new wife and eventually children. As times of waiting come to an end in our lives, we find new challenges await on the other side. We must stay totally dependent on God even when things get circumstantially better.
When I remember that Joseph’s dreams were of his brothers’ sheaves of grain bowing down to his, and of him ruling over the sun and moon and eleven stars, it’s a wonder to me that Joseph maintained such a high view of God even when these dreams were indefinitely delayed. If I put myself in his shoes—in prison, suffering unjustly—I might have responded to the cupbearer’s and baker’s dreams like this: “I wouldn’t put too much stock in those dreams. I had one about ruling, and look at me now. If I were you, I would try as hard as possible to forget those nightmares.”
Joseph didn’t perpetuate a pity party as I sometimes have done over much less important things. He had faith that God was still going to fulfill His promises to elevate him. He knew there was a second story where God was at work. By deciding to interpret the two servants’ dreams and ask the cupbearer for help, he later found that they became the linchpin that knocked down his prison walls. Joseph’s small decision to discern the meaning of their dreams—both of which came to pass just as he had said—ultimately were his ticket out of prison.
Two years went by before the cupbearer remembered Joseph—two long years before his circumstances budged at all. Yet serious dream fulfillment eventually would follow this seemingly forgotten kindness to a servant.
In my own life, I often find God working in the “smalls”—those decisions when no one is looking; that risk you take because God’s Holy Spirit keeps nagging you to step out in faith; a friend you invite over who later becomes a lifelong kindred spirit. Our obedience in the smalls echoes big into the future. God calls us to be faithful in all things, believing in His goodness in the midst of bad circumstances. Where is God calling you to follow Him in what seems like a small insignificant decision?
Every choice we make today will have an impact for God’s kingdom. Whether we’re at work with projects to complete or at home with a laundry basket in front of us; what we decide matters. Choose God instead of the path of least resistance, and you’ll be amazed when the door of your personal prison might just swing wide open in an unexpected way.