Monday, January 5, 2015

Cast your love

I had a dream last night that someone gave me a long blanket coat (is this even a thing?). It had the color of melted butter on toast. Knitted from the softest yarn, it reached all the way to the floor. I had never seen anything like it.

I woke up thinking about Joseph.

For years, I found myself defending him whenever someone called him a spoiled brat. Yes, he told on his brothers. Yes, he rubbed his dreams in their faces. But it was not his fault, right?

I mean, he did not ask for the special robe. He did not ask to be the firstborn son of Jacob's Rachel. He did not ask for all of Jacob's love to be cast on him when his mother died. It was not his fault that his brothers were not trustworthy with the sheep. He did not ask for his dreams.

So why blame Joseph for being bratty when his brothers were the ones who hated him and hated him even more, were jealous of him, and could not speak to him in peace?

He was not at fault.
And yet, he was.

The earliest representation of the crucifixion. Christ, praying. Santa Sabina, Rome, 430 A.D.

Generations later, four other sons of Jacob were granted special favors. Banished from their homes as children, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah stood before the Babylonian king. They were given the privilege to eat the king's food and drink the king's wine. Yet, they refused to defile themselves with food that was unclean to the God of Israel. Instead, they chose only to eat vegetables and drink water.

Though they stood before the king of Babylon, they lived for the King of kings.

I woke up from my dream and it became clear to me that I was like Joseph, and I was nothing like the four companions. I would have worn the special coat, and I would have eaten whatever that delighted my eyes. Knowing myself, vegetables and water would not satisfy.

It did not occur to me that Joseph chose to wear that robe. He chose to wear his fancy coat to meet his brothers in the wilderness when his father asked him to check on them. Of course, the robe was given to Joseph; he was entitled to wear it. But can you imagine how the story would go if he had chosen, for the sake of his brothers, to not wear it? Or better yet, what could have happened if he had given his robe away to his brothers?

Daniel and his friends simply said "No, thank you." They plainly refused the gifts that were offered to them, even if they came from a king who had the power to put them to death (which he later attempted, but that's another story).

So it comes down to this: Am I willing to sacrifice my happiness, my comfort, and my rights for the sake of another?

As a parent, I used the word "share" often when my three boys played with one another and with other children. To a young child, to "share" and "take turns" and "give" mean essentially the same thing — letting go of what you are holding in your possession for the happiness of someone else. What I am really asking my child to do is make a sacrifice. And to sacrifice, I know, is a high and difficult calling. But this is exactly what I want them to learn, because this is love.

So, I have been trying to expand my vocabulary. Instead of "share," I ask my children to sacrifice, and to love.

Soul, cast your love on the King,
whose robe's hem filled the temple.
He became dust for dust's sake,
naked in the virgin's womb,
a small, narrow space for the maker of stars.

Soul, cast your love on the King,
who took off his robe and
hung naked on a tree
for you.


estherliu said...

There is a line from a song. I dont care much for the rest of the song but this line stays with me:

I want to take my affections, put them in a bottle, just to waste them at your feet... Just to break it at your feet

Irene Sun said...

Break me at your feet, and keep me here.

estherliu said...

an alabaster box of labors, love, joy... JUST to spill it at His feet its treasures store.

we would be the freest of women, to live/give that way.

i read a short bio of wilberforce recently. he was so breathtakingly free. like daniel and his friends.

Kim said...

This was so beautiful and such a different perspective on Joseph :) I really enjoyed it. I also think it's a great idea to expand our "sharing" vocabulary with our kids and I like introducing them to what it means to sacrifice. I'm always asking my 8 yo and 5 yo how they can love each other...they know it in theory but putting it into action is always more challenging :)

Anonymous said...

I did it again... I binge read all 10 of your previous posts :) It's been tough going back to work in Minneapolis, but your honest blogging was just the reminder I needed to return and rest in God, to trust and obey Him, and to hasten to follow His commands. Two days after coming back, I'm able to rejoice again in my situation!


Teyen Chou said...

Love, love the way you talked about the sharing part (well and the whole post itself). Sharing has been the toughest thing I've been trying to teach my students. They simply see sharing as "I ask and you just give me because you're supposed to". So imagine when the student doesn't give. Thanks for giving me a piece of wisdom on how to teach "sharing". Your dream definitely humbled me too. Thanks for sharing again (:

Stephanie said...

Irene, I love this idea of asking your children to sacrifice and to a much clearer picture as they grow older of what we are called to. Today I'm remembering this as I "share" my time and strengths to serve those in my care and do the ordinary tasks of today.

Also, thanks for your recent comment on my blog, it encouraged me! :)

Irene Sun said...

Jireh - We are rejoicing with you. Eshan is coming over to sleepover for a couple of nights. The boys are asking whether you are coming with her. =) You are missed (at least by our boys).

Anonymous said...

Haha thanks Irene :) tell the boys that I am 400 miles away, but would've loved to come if I was closer. And Eshan told me about the sleepover, it sounds like so much fun! More opportunities to talk about Ruth maybe? :)


Anonymous said...

I love how you use the word sacrifice in this post... For me, I find it hard to sacrifice anything and I find myself also relating to Joseph. Honestly, many times it's hard for me to make sacrifices to God. There's a lot of steps that I have to take and it looks like I'm going to be taking little baby steps. Your blog is the first :)

Serenely said...

What a brilliant new perspective of the story of Joseph. Actually I used to think those exact thoughts about Joseph and his coat of many colours and condescending dreams. I thought he was asking for it. But I suppose the subsequent events that followed served to humble him before he could be build back up again. He would have not made a good prime minister at all if he was the person he started out at the beginning of the story. But perhaps that the story of all our lives.

Julie said...

Thanks for this! Your words are fresh and helpful!

Jean Tsen said...

Fyi, long blanket coat are called snuggies:

Mwah. Enjoyed second read.