Saturday, July 20, 2013

Finding and Winding My Way

In my family we have a favorite movie. It's one that we can all quote ad nauseum and have watched more times than I can count. Most people I mention it to haven't even seen it, and those who have often don't get it. Granted, it's quirky and often a bit hokey, but Joe vs. the Volcano also taught me a valuable lesson: the path of life is a crooked one. Still, it's worth traversing despite the difficulty. 

In the movie, the symbol of a crooked road appears over and over again. It's Joe's walk to work, a crack in the wall of his apartment, the shape of a lightning bolt striking a ship, and so on. At the end of the movie, Joe tells his leading lady, "Been a long time coming here to meet you - a long time, on a crooked road."

I love the imagery of the crooked road. People often talk about the straight and narrow path that leads to salvation, but did you know that in the scriptures it's actually spelled as "strait" not "straight"? The slight spelling change totally changes the meaning of the word. While "straight" means "without curve", "strait" means "narrow" or "difficult". So the strait and narrow path is really the narrow and narrow path. Why the redundancy? In ancient texts, the repetition was meant to add emphasis (hence, "verily verily, I say unto you" means "REALLY listen up; I'm telling you something important). This tells me that it's a REALLY narrow path (this makes sense since God cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance), but it does NOT mean that it's straight.

And, let's be honest, anyone who has spent any time on this earth will tell you it's not a straight shot to the finish line. There are problems, disappointments, trials, and all manner of obstacles that get in our way and make us change course, or sometimes chart a new course all together. 

However, I have come to know that all the twists and turns along life's crooked road serve a purpose.

One of my favorite talks of all time is a BYU-Idaho devotional (which I never attended) called For God Did Send Me. It changed my life, and it got me through one of those I-didn't-know-life-was-supposed-to-be-this-hard-how-can-I-keep-going times that we all experience. Over the years, the truths of this address have come back to me over and over and have reassured me that the Lord has a plan for my life, mysterious though it may seem at times.

In the talk, the speaker, Casey Hurley, recounts the story of Joseph in Egypt: how Jospeh was told at a young age through dreams that someday his brothers would bow at his feet. However, before this prophecy was fulfilled, his brothers sold him into slavery, he became a servant to Potiphar, and finally he was thrown in prison because he wouldn't commit sin. 

If I was in his shoes, I'm pretty sure I would have started questioning those "dreams" that foretold my wonderful destiny. I would have wondered how being in prison was supposed to fulfill God's plan for me. 

But, I'm not Joseph. He stayed faithful during that time in prison, and he was eventually released. He led Egypt to prosperity, and his brothers did come bow to him as they sought relief from the drought and famine.

Sister Hurley says of this moment:

"When Joseph reveals himself to his brothers, he tells them, 'be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither; for God did send me before you to preserve life…And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God.' (Gen. 45:5,7-8) 

What strikes me most about this story is that the trials Joseph faced were not just the result of men being allowed to exercise their agency, not just tests of Joseph’s faith and obedience, and not just learning opportunities for Joseph. What looked at the time like obstacles in Joseph’s life turned out to be key events leading to fulfillment of Joseph’s special calling.

The trials Joseph faced were more than just test of his will and faith. He needed to be in Egypt, so the Lord allowed his brothers to sell him, he needed to be in prison so that he could make contact with the servant who told Pharaoh of his gift for interpreting dreams. It was a crooked road, but it was bent in the direction of experiences that led him to the greatness God had in store for him.

I've often said that I don't like my trials, but I like the person they are making me become. And, as I look back on my past "trials", I have often been able to see WHY they happened. 

My path is not straight, but I know where it's leading me, so I'll keep walking...trudging...and sometimes even crawling along to make it to my goal. It's worth it. Besides, all the twists and turns mean I get to see more of this beautiful earth...and the scenic route can be pretty fun when I let it be.  


Ashley said...

Beautiful. Thank you.

Jeff said...

I will admit, I'm one of those that definitely does not get, Joe vs The Volcano. We own two copies of it, I don't know why. Because I don't understand either copy.

But this was a good little essay. I liked the things you were able to pull out of that movie, even if I am still wondering why every woman he meets looks exactly the same.

Robyn said...

Good thoughts Meg. I often feel the way you described. The attitude of patience and faith is something I am always striving for each day. Some days are easier then others. It always helps to have loving family to walk the road with along the way. Thanks for not selling me!