Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Where did Reuben go?

Genesis 37 tells the story of getting sidetracked. A boy gets sidetracked from his dreams and a nation gets sidetracked from their destiny. All because someone was missing.

Joseph has dreamed he will rule over his brothers and family. He foolishly tells them so. They don't like him for this. His father, Jacob, still sends him to go check up on his ten older brothers tending flocks in a place they did not originally set out for. The brothers see him coming and plot to kill him.

Reuben, the oldest brother, saves the day. Sortof.

In verses 21-22, he says instead of killing him, they should just throw him alive down a well. Reuben's plan is to return Joseph to his father, I guess when the other brothers aren't looking.

But then Reuben disappears. A caravan of Ishmaelites comes by, the other brothers decide it is more profitable to sell Joseph than kill him, so they do. Then in verse 29, Reuben comes back, looks into the well and is surprised that Joseph is gone.

Where did Reuben go?

Reuben's name mean "See, a son," his mother Leah named him this saying "The Lord has seen my misery." It seems maybe Reuben was meant to also see a son. To look after a son, maybe to save him from misery.

He had a plan and a responsibility to protect his brother and then he left. He may have been distracted or sleeping or doing something else very important, but he wasn't keeping his eye on his responsibility. He wasn't being a good steward.

Of course he didn't know that his absence would lead to 430 years of slavery for the nation that his family would become. He didn't know that his absence would lead to his homeland being overtaken by kingdoms his descendants would have to fight for years to vanquish.

How much of the trial and drama we go through in life could've been prevented if someone (us?) hadn't lost sight of what was important? It's mostly impossible to try to unravel what has already happened, and even if we did pinpoint a moment that someone failed, what good would it do? The only useful thing from this is a stark reminder of the importance of being there, being fully, 100% where God has us, focused on the mission He's placed in front of us.

I'm mostly writing this for myself, to remind me in public that it is a big deal to be responsible with my time and energy. Little decisions add up. Rest is good. Sloth is not.

Yes, God's grace is bigger than any mistake, and hallelujah for that! But how much better is it to not make the mistakes in the first place?

(If you're on the Joseph side of this story, and your life is screwed up because of someone else, cheer up! It gets really good for Joseph.)

Ok, I have really lost track of time writing this blog and have got to get the laundry started....

1 comment:

  1. i've never thought about reuben in this story before. i love how you dug out that nugget from a much-familiar passage.


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