An Experience What is great about experiences we share is the information. Even a bad experience can be used as a learning tool for emotional growth and just taking heed to stay away from a bad deal. But the experience only goes so far and it stops. It is carried as far as the need for that experience is present.
An experience, good or bad, with a person, company, or event is static and can change over time. A testimony has power from God behind it and is dynamic. While the testimony of a person is in regards to a specific event(s), the power behind it does not return void and can alter other experiences.
My first encounter with the jezebel spirit and warfare was many years ago as a young person serving in the Air Force. Born into spiritual warfare, I did not recognize the warning voice of the Holy Spirit and had no clue how to take authority to defeat the spirit possessing someone I encountered. I ignored the voice and perished through lack of knowledge. However, God's plan would prevail. I should have been killed and labeled a suicide. God sent a woman to rush to my house with her young son and the neighbors kid to thwart the people trying to break in my house and make it look like a suicide. I should have been homeless and should have lived like a person completely wiped out by all swarming, crawling, consuming, and the cutting locust. I never went hungry one day, I never wore rags or hand me downs, I never was homeless, I never had trans-portation issues, I never went without. The finances may have changed, but oddly I always had nice clothes, perfume, jewelry, went to Creighton, had cool careers, and continued to move forward. I have never been destitute. God has had my back and was there when I didn't know Him. Even when I fell in the trap of believing He worked through a psychic because I witnessed water turn to blood and a wax head with a hair and bandage appear out of a smashed tomato, He was there. The deep wound from Jezebel from long ago and recently through an in law did not prevail.
So for those who wonder where and who God is, He is with you. Since we are made unique, as evidenced in a fingerprint, each person has a unique path and unique testimonies. I cannot explain why I have outlived some and do not know when my last day is, I do know He is with me.
Your testimony and not just experience can give hope and the power behind the testimony is a seed planted in your spirit. I have received healing from a testimony in a You Tube. I pray you, the reader, be healed and receive faith that no weapon formed against you shall prosper. If you fall into a subtle lie and trap from the devil, have heart-the truth will emerge and if you allow, let God/Jesus make it whole and turn it for His good.
Recently, I had a dream that repeated itself a couple of times within a week. I don’t know why, but in the dream I was a cast member in “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat.” (For those that do not know, it is a “rock opera” written several decades ago by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, and tells the biblical story of Joseph through song.) Now, I have seen the video in the past, but I really had no idea at all why it decided to manifest through a dream. So, the other day I decided to see if I could find it online and watch it again. Sure enough, YouTube had it in its entirety, so I settled in to watch. Even after not watching it for several years, I still found myself singing along with the songs. But in the back of my mind, I was wondering why I needed to watch it again. What message was there for me to hear? As I was listening to the musical, one of the songs started to stand out…and I had to hear it again. The song was “Close Every Door” and was sung when Joseph, as a slave, was thrown into jail by his owner, Potiphar. I will include the lyrics (italicized) to give some reference for those that haven’t seen or heard the musical, but here is what I started to understand: Verse 1: Close every door to me, hide all the world from me. Bar all the windows, and shut out the light. Do what you want with me, hate me and laugh at me. Darken my daytime, and torture my night. Each and every one of us, at some point in our life, is stuck in a situation that is essentially a prison. That prison tends to separate us from the rest of the world, as well as having the belief that we are separated from the love of our God. In our “prison”, we initially maintain that it is not real, or that it cannot affect us. But, being deprived of the close relationship with God that we so desperately need in this day and age is not a good alternative. As sinners, we think that we can get along just fine in this world. We are spiritually blind. We do not see how important it is. We are defiant. We are apathetic to the saving grace that He offers. Unfortunately, that attitude is problematic. As we read in Proverbs 16:18, “Pride goeth before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” Chorus: If my life were important, I would ask will I live or die. But I know the answers lie far from this world. Close every door to me, keep all those I love from me. Children of Israel are never alone. For I know I shall find, my own piece of mind For I have been promised a land of my own.
It is during this time that we believe that the problems that we have brought upon ourselves through our sin are only short term problems. We can “beat” our situation, that it is only temporary. Again, our defiance. Our sense of entitlement. Our pride. Oh, how wrong we are!
Verse 2: Just give me a number instead of a name. Forget all about me and let me decay. I do not matter. I am only one person. Destroy me completely, then throw me away.
And now comes that destruction and the fall. Our defiance has turned to despair. We have stayed in the dark for so long, that we no longer believe that we have that ability to be saved from our circumstances. We feel as though the world doesn’t care about us. (And that is pretty accurate, but I digress.) Our missed opportunities make us pessimistic to anything remotely positive or reassuring. Eventually, our self-deprecating becomes reality. We become the embodiment of apathy. We can no longer see a “way out.”
Fortunately, there is more to the story of Joseph. So much more.
You see, many things in our lives contribute to our situations, much as Joseph’s life was dictated by things outside his control. His father, Jacob (also known as Israel) loved him more than his other children. Not that Jacob did anything different than his 11 brothers, but that favoritism truly made them resent Joseph. Actually, they hated him because of it, and generally did not speak peaceably to him. Then, Joseph made it worse.
Joseph was a dreamer. And an interpreter of dreams. He had a dream that he was in the field and his sheaf of corn stood up, but each of the sheaves of corn that his brothers had all bowed down to his. Well, as you can imagine…it didn’t go over well. Then a second dream, where the sun, moon, and 11 stars all bowed to him. He told the dream to his father and his brothers. His father chastised him for giving such an outlandish projection, but that was all. Well, his brothers could easily see the symbolism, and became determined to make sure that those dreams would not come true.
Like Joseph with his brothers, we are all surrounded by those who would rather see us fail, than to see us succeed. We take perverse pleasure in seeing a successful person “get what’s coming to them” or suffer some sort of spectacular “failure”. But why is that? We don’t really know that person. What is the motivation for us to cheer when a celebrity gets caught in some horrific scandal, yet we cannot do the same when they do something good?
So Joseph’s brothers first thought about killing him. But one brother, Reuben, convinced the others that killing him would be more problematic. They knew the laws, and knew what would happen if it was found out. Then a passing group of Ishmeelites came by on their way to Egypt and Judah convinced the others that selling him would be better, since even if they threw him down a well, it would be just the same as if they killed him, and they could make some money in the process, 20 pieces of silver. Then they returned home, lying to their father by telling Jacob that Joseph was killed by an “evil” beast.
How similar are we to Joseph’s brothers? In our haste to be successful, we use every opportunity to turn things to our advantage. We lie, we manipulate things to our benefit. We forget, the ultimate advantage is HIS.
So…Joseph was sold to the Ishmeelites, taken to Egypt and sold to Potiphar as a slave. Then because Potiphar’s wife was, shall we say, less than virtuous. She continually tried to entice Joseph to her bed. But Joseph liked Potiphar, and worked hard for him. Even so hard as to be promoted to a position of authority over the other slaves of the household. But because she was continually spurned by Joseph, she conspired against him, eventually tricking him into a situation that, although he did nothing wrong, looked as though he had.
How many of us, when faced with a situation that we don’t like, or when things are not going our way, try to sabotage people around us who are prospering? Does our jealousy know no bounds? Or, like Potiphar, do we see things happening and apply our own interpretations, without either understanding that which happened before, or without waiting for an explanation?
So…Joseph is in that jail cell, mourning his situation. Beginning to despair. But there was light at the end of that tunnel. God has heard his prayers, and he has found favor with the keeper of the guards. Now, two people from the pharaoh’s palace, a baker and a butler, have been thrown in jail with Joseph. In talking with Joseph, they learn of his gift of interpretation and tell of the dreams that they have had. Joseph’s interpretations prove correct, and a door is starting to open.
I know that, in my walk with God, I have had times that I did now know if heard me. I felt the pain of despair in my life. I was once asked by someone, when my father had a major cardiac event, how my faith in God was then. I answered, truthfully, that my faith was as strong as ever. Not because I knew my father was going to be ok, which he was. But because I also knew that my father is a man who also has a strong walk with God now, and I have no fear for his eternal destination. I, too, have been put down, struck down from a high place, and forced to subsist on minimums. But, after I wallowed in the self-pity for a while, forgetting about God and his plan for me, I came back, redeveloping my relationship with Him. I had hit rock bottom. What could I do? Where could I go? How would I live?
I let go….and let God. And restoration came.
What a beautiful concept. Taking all that was lost, and giving it back. Sometimes with interest. We all have that available to us. In the bible, when you look at things being restored, you see that, through faith, restoration has occurred with things that, even today, science cannot fully duplicate. In Luke 6, we find a damaged hand restored to perfect functionality. In Mark, it was eyesight that was restored to a blind man. Dear reader, we have that same restoration available to us, through faith. Through faith, I got back a career I thought dead and no longer attainable. Through faith, I know that, although I am more physically apart from my sons than I have ever been, I know that the love I have for them, and the opportunities in the future to spend time with them, will be more bountiful and prosperous than it ever was in the past. Restoration. Yes, Joseph had things restored, too. He moved from the jail, to interpreting the pharaoh’s troubled dreams, to being put in charge of Egypt’s well-being through 14 years of feast and famine. In truth, he was the pharaoh, save only the title. He ruled over all Egypt in the pharaoh’s name.
Joseph’s father, who thought him dead, and his brothers, who probably didn’t give much thought at all to the evil deed they committed around 20 years before, were not doing well at all. In fact, when they heard that Egypt was faring pretty well, ten of Joseph’s brothers decided to take a road trip to Egypt to buy some corn. The youngest, Benjamin, stayed behind with Jacob, just in case something happened to the others. They came before Joseph, but didn’t recognize him. At this point in his life, Joseph had a new name, he married a woman from a well-to-do family, had children, and he looked different. Ahh…but he recognized his brothers!
Time to have some fun.
Joseph accused his brothers of being spies, which of course they denied. They told him they were all brothers, even mentioning the youngest back home with Dad, and that they had another, who was no longer with them. To prove their honesty, Joseph ordered one of them to go get Benjamin and bring him back; the others would be held in prison until his return.
While they were in prison they started talking amongst themselves, not knowing that Joseph understood them. Joseph, to hide his identity from them, spoke to them through an interpreter. He heard them speaking of what they had done to Joseph. Reuben, who lobbied to spare Joseph initially, told them that he warned them about harming Joseph, and now they may not get out at all, since Joseph said that one of them should be a slave to his household.
So, he took Simeon, and bound him. He returned to them the money they had brought with them, and filled each man’s sack with corn and sent them on the way. When the brother’s realized their money was still in the sacks, they got worried. They told their father about the entire situation. And when they ran out of food again, Jacob told them to go back and buy more, but to bring double the money, to prove that they were not spies or thieves and that they want to be honest about the money that didn’t belong to them.
This time, Benjamin was with them. When Joseph saw him, he had to get away quickly, because he was overcome with emotion. But still, there were things to do. He ordered his servants to fill their sacks again, but this time he told them to add his silver cup to Benjamin’s sack, and conceal it.
After the brother’s left the city, Joseph sent his servants to bring them back and to accuse them of theft of the cup. Of course, the brothers denied it, saying that they were honest enough to bring back the money accidentally returned to them that there was no way they would do that. When the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack, they took all the food back, tore their clothes and brought them back before Joseph. The brothers fell to their knees before Joseph, begging for the life of Benjamin. This act of contrition proved to Joseph, once and for all, that the brothers truly were repentant of what they had done to him more than 2 decades earlier.
Standing before them, he revealed his true self, asking if his father was still alive. Telling his brothers, he forgave that which they did, realizing now that it was God’s will that he be brought to Egypt. God needed him to come to preserve his family, his life. He sent his brothers to bring their father, and the rest of the family, to him. He ordered him brought to live near him, so that he and his family would flourish and be restored as a son to his father.
We have that same restoration available to us, without the trickery that was done to the sons of Jacob. God the Father calls to us, beckoning us to return to Him. Return to our birthright as a child of God, from the line of Israel. We are all his children. Unlike Joseph’s brothers, we were not sent away. Our sin separated us from the love of God. But it is through faith, and grace, and love, that the ultimate sacrifice was made so that we no longer have to exist separate from the love of the Father. Christ’s blood washed away the barrier separating us from Him.
Restoration is ours. Not just in this world, but for eternity.