I went on a ten mile hike once. Only once! Some of my friends look forward every summer to strapping on a backpack carrying all they need for two weeks of living in the wild. They take off as happy as clams.
I have never been fond of walking or hiking just for the thrill. I mean, walking is so I can be somewhere else rather then stuck where I am. Now running, that’s a far different kettle of fish! As a boy and teen I ran, and ran a lot. I enjoyed sprinting, my longest distance was the 440, and that was definitely my limit. Of course, that was 40 years ago when I was active every day, in pretty good condition, and weighed a few (quite a few) pounds less. If I try anything like those “Good ‘Ole Days,” don’t waste time calling for oxygen, just call the ambulance!
Abraham had asked Joseph to make a journey to see how the older boys are getting along at Shechem. Now, this was not just a walk down the block, around the corner, over a few houses, or a couple of miles down the road. It was a journey of fifty miles on foot, or as I have also heard them referred to, “shanks pony.” Joseph was lucky to have a donkey to carry all the supplies needed to restock his brother’s provisions. I wonder, did Joseph travel 10 miles a day? Was it closer to 15miles? I doubt his journey would have been much longer each day because of the terrain.
Let’s say three and a half days later Joseph arrived where he had expected his brothers to be with all the sheep, rejoicing to see him and the provisions he brought! (Remember what expectations often give us!) What did he find? Nothing. No one. There were no brothers looking forward to his arrival, and no sign of sheep anywhere. Joseph’s brothers were not where they were supposed to be found, and neither were the sheep!
After traveling more than 50 miles, arriving hot and tired, and now feeling disappointed and a bit frustrated, what was he to do? How was Joseph to find his brothers now? There was no GPS to check or cell service to call. Which way had they gone? Yes, there were other pastures where they could safely graze and water the sheep, but which had they chosen; where did they go?
“And the man said, ‘They have gone away, for I heard them say, “Let us go to Dothan.” ’ So Joseph went after his brothers and found them at Dothan.” Genesis 37:17 ESV
As a friend of mine so often says, “What an amazing coincidence! A man was there to give Joseph directions!”
Have you ever arrived at a destination and discovered emptiness? Have you experienced getting there to find everything you had hoped for and counted on being there, waiting for you, was gone? Perhaps you’ve been absolutely sure you have followed the directions God gave to you only to realize there was/is more to the journey than you had expected.
The temptation to turn around and go home is almost overpowering. Maybe you have had your own amazing coincidence, you’ve realized there are further instructions, more directions, a continued goal. It can feel overwhelming.
What matters now is what will you and I choose in answer to further instructions? This is especially important if right now weariness, pain, fear, frustration, and feelings of hopelessness threaten to engulf you in a tsunami of depression, into just giving up!
That’s why God gives us Grace! That’s why God gives us the Comforter, the Holy Spirit. This is the reason God gave us each other, so we would come along side each other and remind each other of God’s Grace. We must remind each other of God’s Mercy, Love, and Faithfulness. We must remind each other we are priceless!
Joseph’s choice at Shechem had a direct impact on his brothers. Would he be willing to go the extra mile? How about us, you and me? Will we choose to go the extra mile to meet the needs of others? Will we continue the journey even when it takes longer and much more effort than we had thought, even after it was supposed to be done and over?
God is ready to travel the extra mile with us, to support us and help us. He is ready and willing, but are we?
As always the choice is up to us.
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