Favor In Desolate Places

Genesis 39:21, “But the Lord was with Joseph and extended kindness to him, and gave him favor in the sight of the chief jailer.

In August of last year I took a radical step of faith. Now, bear in mind, this is coming from a guy who sold everything he owned and moved to South America at one point in time. Shortly after that time of ministry I moved my wife and children to the ghetto. We actually lived in a place where people were shot and killed right outside our front door step. Where I come from that’s pretty radical.  But this one really took the place of preeminence for me. Ready? After 20 years of “professional” ministry I followed God’s leading to leave my church position and seek secular employment.

I know. That doesn’t sound like a huge deal to most of you. But you have to consider my previous 20 years of “job” experience. Trying putting “missionary” on your resume and see how many interviews you garner. I imagine that every potential employer had visions of me attempting to proselytize the entire company. Nobody would give me a call. I mean, nobody. The local grocery store? Sorry. McDonald’s? Nope. Wal-Mart? Nada. Nothing. One guy told me to come in but then he missed the interview??? It reached the point where I had one week left at the church and I did not have one single possibility. The church offered to keep me but in my heart I was certain that this was God’s leading. I thanked them for their kindness and began cleaning out my office.

The very next day I got a call from a friend who manages a job placement service, i.e. a “temp agency.” He told me that he had one opening at the moment. I had never heard of the company. I didn’t know anything about paper mills. I knew absolutely nothing about Excel or Access. I couldn’t even make coffee. It would mean I would have to drive 45 minutes. There and back. Each day. But it was that or nothing. And so, the next morning I got up, got dressed, and got ready for my first day.

As I walked through the front door I could not believe my eyes. Standing there with hand outstretched, waiting to greet me on my first day was an old friend that I had not seen in 20 years. Better yet? He was my supervisor. Even better yet? He loves Jesus. Both passionately and publicly. In that moment two things happened. The fear and concern that had plagued me all morning suddenly vanished. Secondly, I thanked God for undeserved favor. Once again, God had gone before me, preparing the way. At a time of uncertainty, in a place where everything was new and strange, God poured out His favor upon my life.

I can scarcely imagine all that Joseph felt that first day as they fastened the chains around his feet. I doubt that anyone welcomed him. I doubt that there was one smiling face in the entire prison. And yet, in this most desolate of places, God was already there and God gave Joseph favor. As I prepare to head to work this morning I am reminded that our God does the same for us. There is no situation I will encounter that God has not already foreseen. He has a plan and He is prepared for every circumstance. No matter where I go, no matter what I face, no matter how desolate my surroundings, He is there. With me. I am not alone. And I am not on my own. His presence surrounds me and His favor sustains me.