A man named Victor Hugo once made the famous statement that, "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned." And I wonder if it was Potiphar's wife that gave him the cue for his statement because she was so indignant that Joseph did not give in to the sexual temptation that she had him thrown in prison and now Joseph is an inmate. He didn't do anything wrong; he did everything right. He was serving the Lord, he was being honest and faithful and his reward is that he was thrown in the can. On my desk this week, I got a newspaper article from Kathmandu, Nepal that says Thirteen People Jailed for Becoming Christians. The article briefly says, "A judge convicted and sentenced thirteen men to eight months in prison for converting to Christianity, the Nepalese news agency reported. Christian missions are permitted in Nepal, but conversion is forbidden." Doesn't make sense. Ninety percent of the country's sixteen million people are Hindu, five percent Buddhist, and three perfect Muslim. They got thrown in jail for doing right, not wrong.
I have an acquaintance who is in prison down in Texas and, interestingly enough, he's a Calvary Chapel pastor. He's been sentenced for murder. He did not commit the crime. It was um, a flakey kind-of of trial. Uh, he's out hopefully on parole very soon. But he is in prison suffering for something he did not do. It does not seem right. It is unjust. Joseph being in prison in unjust. Jeremiah went to prison; it was unjust. Paul to went to prison, and I'm sure he knew and thought it wasn't fair. Not to speak of people like John Bunyan, who wrote Pilgrim's Progress from a prison. Alexander Solzhenitsyn who spent ten years in a Russian prison, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who died in a German prison. And yet, it has been those prisons that have produced some of the greatest men and women and the greatest fruit and characters.
Now, most of us will never spend time in a prison. We will not experience what Joseph has experienced, or my friend Benny in prison has experienced. But all of have been or perhaps are victims of being mistreated. Probably all of us have experienced some type of confinement where our freedoms are restricted in life and you would call it a prison, a jail. Perhaps you are married to an unbelieving spouse who is just really putting the squeeze on you. Or you have a, a hateful boss at work who doesn't recognize your potential and he's making it hard for you as a Christian; it feels very confining and you hate working there. Or perhaps you live in a place that you really hate; you don't want to be living there, but you're there. You're confined. One of the most important tests that you and I will ever face is being punished for doing something right and good and not speaking out about it or against it. Listen to what Peter wrote in his epistle to the New Testament church, "But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and you endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God." One person said that God never uses a person to any significant degree until He first breaks that person all to pieces and then He uses a person in a great way. And that's the life of Joseph. Joseph blossomed. In fact, it was his dad, later on in Genesis 49 in describing Joseph's life, he said, "Joseph is a fruitful vine. A fruitful vine by a well, or a spring, who's branches go out over the wall." But Joseph did not blossom in all of the right places, but in the mire of a prison cell.
It says in verse 1 of Chapter 40, "It came to pass," or it happened, "after these things that the butler and the baker of the king of Egypt offended their lord, the king of Egypt. And Pharaoh was angry with his two officers, the chief butler and the chief baker. So he put them in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, in the prison, the place where Joseph was confined. And the captain of the guard charged Joseph with them, and he served them; so they were in custody for a while." Back up in Chapter 39. It says in verse 20, "Joseph's master took him and put him into the prison, a place where the kings prisoners were confined, and he was there in prison." And verse 21 is the redeeming phrase of the whole scene, "But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him mercy and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison." God was with Joseph while he was in jail, but more that, Joseph's prison experience was directed by God. It was God's perfect will for Joseph's life that he suffer in prison. Now, listen to those words carefully. It was God's will that Joseph be confined in prison for what God was going to do in his life. This being in prison was more than just God being with him. It was God's direction; it was a God-given prison ministry. God planted Joseph in prison. Remember way back at the first hint we get of Joseph's life? Joseph got a dream by the Lord, and the dream was that all of his brothers and his mom and dad would be bowing down to him. That was a God-given dream. God started that, He initiated that. And then we see Joseph being mistreated by his brothers, thrown in a pit, and it just so happened that the ones they sold Joseph to were the Ishmaelites, and it just so happened they were going down to Egypt, and it just so happened that he ended up in Potiphar's house, and it just so happened that he had a ornery wife that had him tossed into prison, and it just so happened that he was in prison with two other people who were officers of the Pharaoh- the butler and the baker. And it just so happened that the butler and the baker had a dream, each of them, together the same night. And it just so happened that God gave Joseph the interpretation. And it just so happened in the next chapter that Pharaoh has a dream that troubles him and they get Joseph out of prison to interpret it. And Joseph gives him the interpretation, shares wisdom with him and eventually Joseph is made the prime minister of Egypt after being in a prison cell. So much so that when the whole known world goes under a famine, Joseph is able to welcome his father Jacob and his brothers to Egypt when they bow before him in fulfillment of the dream and preserve their life. It was all directed by God. But God didn't say to Joseph while he was in prison, "Thus says the Lord, hang tight. It'll work out someday." He trusted that that was the Lord's will. And it turned out that way.
Turn over a couple chapters to Chapter 45. Listen to Joseph's own admission of his experience as a prisoner. Genesis 45 says, as the brothers were coming to him, verse 3, "Joseph said to his brothers, 'I am Joseph; does my father still live?' But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed in his presence. And Joseph said to his brothers, 'Please come near to me.' And they came near. And he said: 'I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt.'" Up to this point they had no idea, "'But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. For these two years the famine has been in the land, and there are still five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. And God sent me before you to preserve a posterity for you in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance.'" Now look at verse 8 carefully, "'So now it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house.'" "You didn't do this, God did this. It was God's sovereign, perfect will that I go through this prison experience." This is where weaves His will through ordinary events in a person's life. Now, you who perhaps are listening to me this morning and are part of what is known as the Faith Movement, that says if you have enough faith, you won't suffer. Listen carefully. It was God's predetermined will that Joseph be planted and suffer in that prison in Egypt. By his own admission, he recognizes that. "You didn't do this to me. God put me here to preserve life and to have this happen." You see, if you are a child of God, there are no accidents in your life. God has control. If you are relinquishing your rights to the Lord, if you're saying, "Lord, take over my life. I wanna follow every impulse that you give," there are no accidents. God arranges your life. The term for this, by the way, is called providence. God's providence. Which is comprised of two Latin words: pro, which means "before", and video, which means "to see". It means to see before. It is God's activity based on foresight. It's as if God takes a little VCR of your life before you're even born and He can plug it in to His heavenly VCR and check it out. And He can view in advance, He can see in advance your life and God is able to then insert and edit scenes that He wants. That's providence. It is the sovereign manipulation of ordinary events. And there's a difference between providence and what is known as the miraculous. A miracle is God dramatically intervening in natural law. Providence is God sovereignly manipulating the ordinary. You see, there are so many people out there wanting there miracle a day, totally ignorant of God's providence. They want dramatic intervention, when God on the other hand will sovereignly manipulate the events of your life to get His predetermined purpose set. So as you look back on your life, you can see the hand of God. You met that person at just the right time, and had that conversation about those issues at just the right time, and you can see it looking back, but going through it, it seems so natural. That's called providence. God manipulates the ordinary. So, your past is not coincidence, it's prearranged. Every situation, God has prepared that situation for you and prepared you and I for that situation. Listen to what paul says in Ephesians. He says, "We are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do." That's providence.
So there's Joseph's life, and God has it on His VCR. And He's editing it and the scenes are flashing and God's in there checking 'em out. And first is the scene of Joseph being born and Rachel and Jacob rejoicing. And the next scene is Joseph running around the tent, laughing and playing with his brothers. The next scene, he's growing up, he's going to school and on, and on, and on, until God cuts out a prison scene and edits it, splices it into Joseph's life and He says, "Okay, I am predetermining at this time that Joseph be sent down as a slave to egypt and suffer in a prison, and then, here's the scene where he's the prime minister and here's the scene where his family comes before him and he's able to preserve their life." He splices it in. Now, what of those specially edited in scenes in your life that are prison scenes? What about those scenes? Think about 'em for just a moment. Those scenes of suffering and confinement that you find yourselves in. Are you able to embrace them and submit and resign yourself to the will of God in those things? Are you able to go as far as even what Peter said, "To rejoice in our sufferings?" To embrace them and say, "Lord, somehow, Your providential, sovereign hand is manipulating the event so that Your will is gonna get done, and I resign myself to that, Lord." Are you able to do that in your times of suffering, in your prisons?
Chuck Colson, who was recently here, he was here this week, in fact, wrote a book called "Loving God" and he has a story where he's sitting in a prison. He served his jail sentence for Watergate. He is now going back to a prison to minister. And he's waiting his turn to speak. And he says, "As I sat on the platform, waiting my turn at the pulpit, my mind began to drift back in time to the scholarships and the honors that I earned. The cases that I argued and won in court. Great decisions made from lofty government offices. My life had been the perfect success story. The great American dream fulfilled. But all at once, I realized that it was not my success that God used to enable me to help those in prison, or in hundreds of others just like it. My life of success was not what made this morning so glorious. All of my achievements meant nothing in God's economy. No, the real legacy of my life was my biggest failure; that I was an ex-convict. My greatest humiliation, begin sent to prison, was the beginning of God's greatest use of my life. He chose the one experience in which I could not glory for His glory." That's a prison scene. And that's a scene that caused him to rejoice, that God could use His life. Charles Spurgeon says that God gets His greatest soldiers from the highlands of affliction. Now either we will accept the prison scenes, the confinement that we find ourselves in and saying, "Fine, God. I believe that this is somehow in Your will designed for my life to bring glory to you and to preserve life later on, even though I can't see it," or we're going to complain and be miserable. You see, it's that providence of God that is so overlooked by so many Christians. We want the intervention, the miraculous, instead of the divine manipulation of ordinary events. There is no Christian fallout shelter. There is no place where we are immune as Christians from prisons, from mistreatment. If that were true, every nonChristian would beat a path to the door of a church like crazy. Doesn't happen that way.
I want you to turn to another portion of scripture, before we move on, in the New Testament. Philippians, Chapter 1. Philippians 1. I feel like I really need to underline this concept that God put him there. It was part of His will. Philippians, Chapter 1. As you're turning there, I'll remind you that this book was written by Paul the Apostle while he was in the Mamertine prison in Rome writing to the Philippians. The Philippians were wondering about Paul. "You know, we haven't heard about Paul and we're scared for his life. He's been in jail, he's been a prisoner for years. Surely this can't be the will of God for his life." Keep in mind that Paul was successful in the ministry. He planted many churches, he saw a lot of people come to the Lord. And right when he was at the peak of success in his ministry, a series of events happened, quote unquote, that caused him to just take a plunge downward till he was imprisoned. First of all, he went to Jerusalem. He wanted to preach the gospel. While he was in the temple, people brought a false accusation against Paul and him confined. And then Paul went to preach the gospel on the Antonia and the crowd went wild, the Romans took him away, there was an illegal arrest made, he was brought to Cesarea and he suffered in prison for two years. He finally got tired of waiting around, and he appealed his case to Caesar. They took him on a prisoner ship, and he ended up in the Mamertine prison in Rome and all the while, the church is saying, "What happened to Paul? Surely this could not be the will of God that he suffer in a prison with an illegal arrest, being tortured in that hole, the Mamertine prison in Rome. This could not be the will of God." Keep something in mind. Paul always wanted to go to Rome. He just didn't know how God was gonna let him do it. Well, think about it. God got him an all-expense paid trip to Rome (light laughter). And he was able to share the gospel not only in prison, but to Caesar Nero himself. And he didn't have to pay one penny for it. And notice verse 12 of Philippians 1, "I want you to know, brethren, that the things which have happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard and to all the rest that my chains are in Christ." Most of us with that series of events happening against our lives, I mean that's Murphy's law working to a T. Arrested in Jerusalem, beaten by the Romans, sent to Caesarea, two years in jail, and then sent to Rome in jail. Most of us would've said, "Um, I don't feel led of the Lord anymore to do this, uh, things aren't flowing, uh, quite like I expected. Certainly this can not be God's will." And we cash it in. Paul said it's happened for the furtherance of the Gospel. If we could grasp this concept, this would change our lives. It would change us from saying, "Deliver me from prison," to saying Alexander Solzhenitsyn said, "Bless you prison for having been in my life." Perhaps it's us that needs to change, not our prisons. Not our areas of confinement. Maybe we could resign ourselves to saying, "Lord, I'm in jail. I don't like it but You got a plan. It's for the furtherance of the gospel. It's to preserve life. Bless you, prison. I resign myself to Your Will."
Turn back to Genesis, now. Now that we've discovered that God, according to Joseph, put him there, let's see how he blossomed. God planted him in prison, and Joseph blossomed in prison. And as you look at Chapter 40, it says in verse 3 that these two prisoners, the butler and the baker, were put, "in custody in the house of the captain of the guard in the prison, the place where Joseph was confined. And the captain of the guard charged Joseph with them," it was under his care. Now look at verse 4, "He served them. So they were in custody for a while." Joseph blossomed, first of all, by serving people. He stayed busy in prison. He stayed active. He did not wallow around in his mire. He didn't beat his head against the wall and say, "I hate this. I don't any part of it. This couldn't be God's will." Now, I'm sure he thought that when he was first put in prison. I'm sure sure he went through intense emotion stress. But at least sometime he resigned himself to saying, "I'm in prison, and I'm gonna serve here." He was serving them.
I have heard that when a person really is in a prison, like my acquaintance Benny, down in Texas, that it makes a person feel very useless and thus, very hopeless, totally degraded. And so, Joseph was determined to be useful. He saw that somebody had a need and he was committed to attending to them, as the NIV says. Serving their needs. When a person serves in his place or her place of mistreatment and confinement, that person blossoms. Because all of a sudden that, that person has purpose and significance in an otherwise insignificant, purposeless situation. He sees that others have needs and, in fulfilling those needs, he finds purpose.
I have another acquaintance of mine who was in Southern California. He was a musician, made a few albums, and he came to a point in his life where he felt very, very, um, useless, but, uh, just real negative, real bummed out at life. And he went to one of the assistant pastors at the church I attended in California, who was an ex-marine sergeant, and he had his own way of counseling (light laughter), and yet it was effective in this case. Before you judge him or jump to conclusions, uh, let me tell you the story. This man, Erick, came up to the assistant pastor and says, "Oh man, life's a drag and nothing's going right, and I don't feel like I'm being used," and on and on. And he just sobbed. Finally, this assistant turned to him and said, "Erick, you're a jerk." Eric looked at him like, "You have no right." You know, looked at him. And, and then this musician kind of nodded his head. He realized, "I think you're right." He said, "You know what you need to do first of all is go before God and repent of that attitude. And then secondly, I want you to go to some convalescent homes for the next month. Find anyone who could perhaps have a need greater than yours and minister to them. Just do that and then come back and see me. Bye." Erick came back after a period of time, said, "I, I understand what you were getting at. I saw in those places, people who had greater needs and I found such purpose and significance in reaching out and fulfilling those needs." That wasn't a prison to him anymore. That place was of useful arena. In our own fellowship, I have a young man sitting in front of me in a wheelchair- Scott. Scott approached me a while back, about a year or so ago, and he said, he's confined in a wheelchair and he said, "I really wanna be used in the church. I wanna be an usher." Now, I confess to you, in my mind I thought, "Oh no, nah, it's not going to work. How are you going to be an usher?" And I thought, "Now wait a minute. Here's someone who's confined to a prison of his body, and he wants to be useful to the Lord and he can sit there with bulletins and a sign that says he's an usher with his name on it, and people could pick up bulletins." And I thought, what a statement that is to all the able-bodied people in this fellowship who, perhaps, don't get involved. Here's a person confined, getting out of that prison, blossoming in it by being useful; sensing a need and wanting to serve.
But, before we move on, it's important that you understand that that word in verse 4, "served" is a special Hebrew word. It is not meaning "menial labor", it speaks of a special kind of service that you would render to a king, or to an important person. It is the same word that speaks of the priests who would serve to the Lord, minister to the Lord in worship and praise in the sanctuary. It is a word that speaks of special service done with excellence, done with purpose. It's the difference between drudgery and doing something unto the Lord- a labor of love. It's the difference between going to uh, an assembly line in Detroit, Michigan, as they're just doing the same thing all day long, or visiting a garage of a craftsman who is restoring a vintage automobile- he's doing it with love and excellence. That's what the word means. It's the word of a person who is in prison who dares to stop and say, "Lord, even though I'm in this prison, please help me do this thankless task as unto You with all of my heart." "Lord, help me, with joy to serve this meal to my ungrateful husband. While I'm in this prison, being confined, let me do it with joy unto you." "Lord, help me to serve my boss with vigor and joy, even though he doesn't see my potential." That's the word, that's what it means. To do it with excellence. The satisfaction of a job well done. And you know what? When you start looking at your prison that way, it turns the most confining circumstances into a sanctuary of worship.
He blossomed by serving. Now, verse 5, "Then the butler and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were confined in the prison, dreamed a dream, both of them, each man’s dream in one night and each man’s dream with its own interpretation. And Joseph came in to them in the morning and looked at them, and saw that they were sad. And so he asked Pharaoh’s officers who were with him in the custody of his lord’s house, saying, 'Why do you look so sad today?'" Joseph blossomed, not only by serving, but by caring. Notice that he saw that they were sad. Another version of the Bible says, "He noticed that they were disturbed." Now, I want you to camp on that for just a moment. Joseph was sensitive enough not just serving people, going through a task, he was sensitive enough to how people felt who were in prison with him. He walked in one day and he, he did a few things. First of all, he read their body language. He noticed that they looked distressed. He just didn't blow off the frown or whatever they had on their forehead. He noticed it. Second of all, he asked questions, he inquired. "Hey, how come you're so sad?" And third, he listened. And they told him the dream. It is estimated when we communicate to one another that the words that we share, the content of our communication, form only seven percent of the total communication package. The tone of the voice represents thirty-eight percent of total communication. And body language, non-verbal communication, fifty-five percent. For instance, if you say, "Hey, are you excited to be here?" "(Dull tone) yeah." Tone of voice doesn't communicate what the content does. Now if I say, "(Higher pitched) Yeah!" Now if I go, "(Louder, gesturing) Yeah!" with exclamation in my body, you see that the communicating, body language, plays an important part. A sensitive person who cares will read the body language, not just the content. He'll hear the tone of the voice, he'll look at the expression on the face. As, have any of you ever seen, perhaps, on TV the famous French mime, Marcel Marseau? Did you know that he speaks four languages, fluently? He's an expert on many, many subjects, and yet he chooses to perform in absolute silence. Because one of his expressions is worth more that if he were to explain how he felt for ten minutes. And Joseph noticed that, and he listened to 'em and he said, "Why are you so sad," or, "How come you're so distressed?" "And they said, 'We have dreamed a dream, and there is no interpreter of it.' And Joseph said to them, 'Don't interpretations belong to God? Tell them to me, please.'" And the rest is the story that they told.
How is it that a person who is suffering in prison can be sensitive to how other people feel? It would seem that a person would be overwhelmed with self-pity. And somehow, Joseph was not. Here's my point. Make room for compassion. Cultivate a caring, sensitive spirit. An authentic interest in others needs to be nurtured. Notice people's expressions when you're around them- the frown, the furrowed eyebrow, the quivering lip, the teary eye, the forlorned look. Notice that and reach out to a person who is in need. When you observe that there's something going on, ask questions. "Hey, I can tell that you're distressed, you're sad, or something's wrong. How can I help you? I really want to." A good rule to follow in life is, always keep your heart a little softer than your head. Notice how people feel and reach out. And by the way, never apologize for showing your feelings. If you apologize for that, you are apologizing for the truth. He was sensitive.
Now look, it says, in verse 8, "'We each have dreamed a dream, and there is no interpreter of it.' And Joseph said to them, 'Don't interpretations belong to God? Tell them to me, please.'" And the chief butler told his dream to Joseph, and said to him, 'Behold, in my dream a vine was before me, and in the vine there were three branches; it was as though it budded, its blossoms shot forth, and its clusters brought forth ripe grapes. Then Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand; I took the grapes and pressed them into Pharaoh’s cup, and placed the cup in Pharaoh’s hand.' And Joseph said to him, 'This is the interpretation of it: The three branches are three days. Now within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your place, and you will put Pharaoh’s cup in his hand according to the former manner, when you were his butler. But remember me when it is well with you, and please show kindness to me; make mention of me to Pharaoh, and get me out of this house.'" He was a realist (light laughter). "'For indeed I was stolen away from the land of the Hebrews; and also I have done nothing here that they should put me into the dungeon.' When the chief baker saw that the interpretation was good, he said to Joseph, 'I also was in my dream, and there I had three white baskets on my head. In the uppermost basket were all kinds of baked goods for Pharaoh, and the birds ate them out of the basket on my head.' So Joseph answered and said, 'This is the interpretation of it: The three baskets are three days. And within three days Pharaoh will lift off your head and hang you on a tree; and the birds will eat your flesh from you.'" Now, Joseph, in prison, served, he cared, and he blossomed by sharing. He represented God to these two pagan officers. He did not go into a long dissertation of the advantages of monotheism over polytheism. He just dropped a gentle bomb in form of a rhetorical question. They said, "We've dreamed a dream. We can't find the interpretation." He just simply said, "Don't interpretations belong to God?" Which is his way of saying, "If any of you will receive an interpretation, it's from God and God alone, the only one, true God." And then Joseph interpreted the dream; God did reveal the dream's meaning to Joseph and Joseph not only listened to the dreams, but shared the interpretation that God gave him. He represented God. He showed the people that there is a God in heaven that can supernaturally reveal Himself to them and give the interpretation of it. And, notice, that he shared with them the truth. The good news and the bad news. Even though it was painful I'm sure for Joseph to say, "You're gonna die in three days, pal." He shared the truth. He represented God adequately, accurately. He blossomed by sharing.
Joseph made his place of confinement into a place where he can somehow represent the Lord. Even though it was a small door and a small message he shared, he did it gently, but he did it definitely. He turned his prison into a pulpit. And if you think about it, these two characters had no choice but to listen. They're in prison. Ain't gonna go anywhere. If you thought that in ordinary circumstances these two officers would have never given Joseph the time of day. If Joseph would have seen them walking out from the palace one day and said, "Hey, let me tell you about God who interprets dreams." They would've said, "Get outta here." But now they're stuck. They're not going to go anywhere. There's no choice. Remember Paul the Apostle? "I'm in prison, and this is for the furtherance of the gospel so that all the people in the palace are understanding that my bonds are in Christ." He even goes on to speak about a little revival that was going on inside the prison itself. Now imagine being chained to Paul the Apostle. Going around in shifts, six hour shifts, four guards per day. You're not going to go anywhere. You can't just walk away when Paul says something convicting about salvation. You're chained to the guy. I have a friend in Southern California, I was his roommate for a time, he was a physician, a doctor. And he was wondering, he said, "Now, why am I a doctor? How can I represent the Lord in such a confining place of the medical world, in the emergency room?" So he finally got his idea in his head one day, and he brought a stack of bibles to work and tracts and he would have people come in the emergency room and they'd get a cut, and he'd be stitching up their head, and he'd share with them, he'd think, "This is great. They're not gonna move (laughter). I got 'em. They're not gonna walk out. I got a needle sticking in their scalp. And I can gently tell them about God's love. And after about a half an hour, or so, they've heard the whole gospel. They're stuck and their confined and so am I in that room all day long, and so I'm gonna take advantage of it."
The acquaintance that I told you about, Benny who was in prison, wrote me a letter last week and he said this. Listen, "As for this prison experience, I could tell you a lot. I hope to do it face-to-face sometime soon. For now, I will just say Jesus is here. Men are coming to know the Lord, and we are doing what we can to give them a good foundation. We have much to combat in the way of cults and other fruitcakes, but the Lord is working. Pray for the men here. Pray for the Bible school that I am trying to get started here. Pray for unity among the brethren, that a good core group of leaders would start to work together. Pray for our prison chaplains, that they may recognize that the church is here. Pray that I would become more sensitive to the many needs around me and for wisdom to deal with each one of the men as the Lord would have me to do." Blossom by sharing.
Whatever restricting position you may be in. Again, it might be a job. It might be so boring this prison that you feel yourself in. You can transform that place of mire into a place of blossom. I wanna close with something I found by Ten Engstrom. It's an excerpt out of a book called, "Letters to an Unborn Child," by David Ireland. And, uh, the author, as he is writing this, is dying from a neurological disease. And he is writing to the unborn child about the relationship that he has with his wife who, by the way, is in a very confining place taking care of this man's neurological disease. But listen to how she handles it according to him.
Your mother is very special.
By the way, the, the mother turns out to be pregnant. And the father, as he's writing the child, doesn't know if he's gonna live to even see his child, so he's writing letters in advance.
Your mother is very special. Few men know what it's like to receive appreciation for taking their wives out to dinner when it entails what it does for us. It means that she has to dress me, shave me, brush my teeth, comb my hair, wheel me out of the house and down the steps, open the garage and put me in the car, take the pedals off the chair, stand me up, sit me in the seat of the car, twist me around so that I’m comfortable, fold the wheelchair, put it back in the car, go around to the other side of the car and start it up, back it out, get out of the car, pull the garage door down, get back into the car, and drive off to the restaurant.
And then, it starts all over again; she gets out of the car, unfolds the wheelchair, opens the door, spins me around, stands me up, seats me in the wheelchair, pushes the pedals out, closes the locks and locks the door, wheels me into the restaurant, and then takes the pedals off the wheelchair so I won’t be uncomfortable. We sit down to have dinner and she feeds me throughout the entire meal. And when it’s over she pays the bill, pushes the wheelchair out to the car again and reverses the same routine.
And when it’s all over, finished, with real warmth she’ll say, 'Honey, thank you for taking me out to dinner.' I never quite know what to answer.
That's a modern day prisoner who is blossoming in the mire.
Bow your head with me, please. Heavenly Father, The areas of confinement that we find ourselves in- some of us permanently, and some of us temporarily- help us Father to take it patiently, to suffer with dignity, not as Satan-defeated life, but a victorious life where we are determined to serve people, be sensitive to their emotions and care for them and to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with them in that prison. I pray Lord, that we would be able to distinguish between what is a self-induced prison, or the attacks of Satan, and those confinements that You send our way, that lovingly pass through Your hands to our lives. And Lord, I pray that we would learn to say, "Bless you, prison." And somehow see You in it, and blossom right there. In Jesus name, Amen.