This morning I’m out of sorts, exhausted though I slept in. I’ve been working a bunch lately, and though I’m enjoying it, I’m always aware when I start to run on fumes. Instead of cracking open my bible this morning, I decide to sit still. I ask God to speak—just a single word, a picture even. I need something solid and simple to grab onto today.
I need truth stronger than the lies I’m hearing.
My mind drifts to a rainbow tunic like the one Joseph wore. My husband and I are teaching the three-year-olds about Joseph’s coat, his father’s favor, his dreams, and his angry brothers in just a couple of hours. I try to push away the image, convinced it’s just my to-do list talking.
But I hover there holding that image instead of dismissing it. I wait to see if maybe it’s God holding out something for me to cling to today. In Genesis 37 I read about Jacob and his twelve sons. Joseph was his favorite, they say, but part of me wonders if Jacob—who fathered Joseph in his old age—softened over the years. I wonder if Joseph received the grace his father struggled to receive in his younger days.
The footnote in my bible says the coat could have been “colorful” or simply “a coat with long sleeves.” I wonder what it means but hope it’s God answering my questions. Am I working too much? Is this all wrong? Why am I so tired? And then there it is, lurking, always lurking, underneath:
What is wrong with me?
I sense in my heart God clothing me with a gorgeous coat instead of the cloak of shame the enemy holds out for me to hide in. I grab the robe, slip it on. It looks nothing like the rainbow coat my tiny class will create with paper and jumbo Crayola’s later this morning.
In my mind it’s more like a soft hoodie that’s the perfect color against my skin. When I put it on, there’s plenty of room for me to be me. I never want to take it off.
God says, “You’re favored,” and I know I am as His child. “Chosen,” He continues. This I understand as well. “I have a plan,” He adds. I believe He does, though I struggle to see it the way He does. I feel a camaraderie with Jacob who chooses to believe his sons’ vicious lies instead of believing God’s plan for Joseph would prevail in the face of an evil plan. A classic case of living by sight rather than faith.
I relate to Jacob’s struggle. Maybe it’s not my heart that’s heavy, but my faith that’s frazzled. Then I stumble upon this reality: A robe marked privilege in the Hebrew culture. It signified an exemption from labor. It wasn’t about the beauty of the coat or the length of the sleeves. It represented a life free from duty. It pointed to an inheritance.
Joseph and his coat begin to untangle my questions.
A favored daughter does not labor out of fear. A chosen vessel is exempt from proving her worth. A beloved child is free to pour herself out in the name of Love, because nothing trumps God’s plan for her. Nothing. Not shame, not fear, not the present, past or future.
I tend to swing the pendulum any chance I get. Work, work, work, then when I realize I’m missing it, I swing the opposite way: Quit, quit, quit. 1 Corinthians 15:58 says, “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”
Labor. It’s right there. But abounding is simply overflow. Love spills out; that is how I labor in the Lord.
We labor in love, not fear. Fear says we have to work to wear the robe; Love reminds us it’s already ours. Fear drapes us in shame, but Love clothes us with Christ. Fear overwhelms, explodes, then peters out. Love invites us to co-labor with the King.
Lord, may Your Word, alive and flowing within us, remind us of the inheritance we possess. And let that knowledge lead us to labor from a posture of love, not fear. Help us to give out of the abundance we’ve been given rather than the scarcity of our humanity.
Thank you for stepping into our battles and overcoming the fear that demands we work for what is already our in Christ. Thank you for Jesus. Thank you for the cross. Thank you for the invitation to co-labor with you. Prepare our hands and our hearts for the task before us. Amen.