By Francis Frangipane

Having a true vision is not the same thing as having a godly motive. A person could have a vision directly from God, yet be driven by self-promotion and ambition in seeking to fulfil it.  Jesus preached that the kingdom of heaven was at hand. This is vision. But He also taught: “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross” (Matt. 16:24).

If we will follow Jesus, notice we each have been given our own unique cross: “let him take up his cross.” God has a cross specifically designed to crucify our fleshly ambitions en route to reaching our vision.

Consider Joseph: God had given him a dream of his future, but rather than quietly ponder the divine experience, he exalted himself to his ten older brothers. He assured them that one day they would each bow, like stacks of wheat, in subservience before him. His fleshly immaturity awakened a fleshly, even diabolical plot among his brothers: they sought to kill him. Joseph’s vision was from God, but his motives lacked character, and his actions nearly cost him his life (see Gen. 37).

Yet, God was with Joseph, even in his lack of spiritual knowledge. And, we should rejoice for God is with us as well, even in our immaturity and ambition. Yet we should also understand: A true vision will kill you before it will fulfil you. Joseph had to learn to trust God in whatever circumstance or injustice he found himself; he had to become patient, serving others until the time arrived when his dream bloomed into reality.

“Until the time that his word came to pass, the word of the Lord tested him” (Ps. 105:19).

Consider: the Almighty could have certainly brought Joseph to Egypt by a less threatening route. Joseph could have grown to maturity among his family without being sold into slavery. Since he was given the gift of dreams and interpretation, the Holy Spirit could have simply given him a dream and told him to move to Egypt (as He did another Joseph centuries later). Once safely there, Joseph’s fame at dream interpretation would have reached the ears of Pharaoh at precisely the right time, say the morning after the king’s night of ominous dreams. Joseph, the “dream merchant,” would have been positioned in the right place at exactly the right time.

Instead, God brought him to Egypt thirteen years earlier than needed. The young man had to face and overcome repeated experiences with an inward dying to self. He faced betrayal and abandonment; he was enslaved, tempted sexually, slandered and imprisoned. How hopeless could his situation be? Yet, he then faced the challenges of being forgotten. In spite of all these things, Joseph trusted God and grew in both wisdom and spiritual integrity.

God didn’t merely want a man to interpret dreams, but a man who could rule his heart when it suffered abandonment, injustice, slander and rejection and betrayal, and still remain the man of God regardless.

Joseph kept his heart free from the bitterness that overwhelms the soul. He was a man who wept when he finally saw his brothers. These were the men who laughed while he cried to them from the pit, then would have left him to die a long, agonizingly slow death had not a caravan passed by and Joseph been sold to traders. Joseph could have had his revenge – off with their heads! But the Scriptures record that five times Joseph turned away and wept in the discourses with his family; once he “wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard, and the household of Pharaoh heard” (Gen. 45:2).

Joseph was a man of character, a man whose ambitions died but whose vision lived. He drank the cup given him by God, and his dream became a reality. Jesus drank the cup given Him, and we experienced salvation. But each of us has a cup to drink en route to our destiny. There will be no shortcuts to power. We will swallow the full dregs and though it kills us, we shall live. Yet, it shall not be us, but Christ living in us.

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