Thursday, January 9, 2014

Spin the Story

Spin the Story is a phrase I use to indicate the way we evaluate events in our lives.  It is a method of Cause attribution. 

So here’s an example:

Joseph was the son of Jacob (Israel) and the second-to-the-youngest of 12 sons.  They lived in the land of Canaan near a place that was later known as Bethlehem.  Jacob favored Joseph out of all of his sons.  He made him a coat of many colors that symbolized this preference.  So Joseph’s brothers hated him.  They were jealous and couldn’t talk to him nicely at all.

Joseph had a couple of dreams that he told to his family.  They indicated that he would one day rule over them.  They evaluated these events with Envy.  His older brothers were so obsessed with their Envy that one day they threw Joseph into a pit and were going to leave him for dead. 
But then a merchant caravan heading to Egypt came by so they decided instead to sell him into slavery for twenty pieces of silver.  They then killed a goat, put its blood on Joseph’s coat and brought it back to their father so that he would believe Joseph had been killed by a wild animal.

Pretty hard times for Joseph.

In Egypt a man named Potiphar bought Joseph as a servant.  Joseph served Potiphar with total honesty and loyalty.  Everything with which Potiphar entrusted Joseph resulted in sustainability.  So Potiphar promoted Joseph to be the overseer of his house. 

But the master’s wife had her eye on Joseph to the extent that one day she made a pass at him.  Joseph got the heck out of there ASAP which offended the woman.  She then told Potiphar a lie:  Joseph had sexually harassed her.  Potiphar was way mad and cast him into prison.

Pretty hard times for Joseph.  He reaches sustainability and then is cut down again.

In prison, Joseph served the keeper with total honesty and loyalty.  Again Joseph was entrusted with responsibility and authority.  And in time even within the prison, the system reached sustainability.  But Joseph was in there for years. 

The leader of Egypt was called Pharaoh.  Some of Pharaoh’s officers had been cast into the prison in which Joseph was held.  They had some dreams.  Joseph knew how to interpret dreams as metaphors.  He interpreted these men’s dreams and within a short time the interpretations came to pass. One of the imprisoned officers, the Chief Butler, was set free.  Joseph had asked him to remember him when he got out.  But he forgot him…until the Pharaoh himself had a reoccurring dream that was driving him crazy and no one’s interpretation satisfied him.  It was then that the Chief Butler remembered Joseph and told Pharaoh that there was a Hebrew guy in the prison who could interpret dreams.

Pharaoh sent for Joseph and related the dream to him.  Joseph interpreted it and even offered him counsel on how to resolve the conflict the dream indicated was forthcoming.  And Pharaoh was satisfied.  He believed the interpretation and felt it was right.  Consequently he appointed Joseph to a position of responsibility and authority in preparation for the forecasted famine.

For 7 years Egypt had plenty of water and thus food.  Joseph was assigned to be the project manager of a massive preparedness effort, filling huge storage units with grain.  After those 7 years of plenty, Egypt and all the lands around it were pounded with a drought so severe that a sustainable supply of food could not be produced.  Joseph opened the stores and managed their distribution not only to Egypt’s residents but also to all the countries around it.

Meanwhile Joseph’s father and his eleven sons were also suffering under the famine.  And it came to the point where they had to go to Egypt for support.  Jacob sent his older sons to go buy the corn.

Joseph saw them coming.  He most likely was watching for them.  My guess is that a group of 10 Hebrew brothers would stick out like a sore thumb in Egypt.  Joseph basically disguised himself and his voice so that he appeared to them as an Egyptian governor and no one they would know.  Joseph was a full grown man by then with a wife and two kids of his own whereas when they sold him he was still a boy.   

His brothers didn’t recognize him.  He gave them a hard time, was stern with them, and played a few tricks on them.  And through this subterfuge he heard of their regret for what they did to their younger brother (himself) years ago.  They had been living with this pain in their hearts for years.  He also manipulated them into bringing back to Egypt Benjamin, Joseph’s younger brother whom he loved and who had not taken part in his older brothers’ hatred.  Finally in the end Joseph revealed himself to them.

And this is how he spun the story:

“I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt…be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither:  for God did send me before you to preserve 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: and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt (Genesis 45:4-8).

So we all know his brothers were the ones who thought up the plan to do bad things to him.  Yet Joseph attributes the Cause to God.  He said it was God that sent him there.  Why the heck would he say that?  Why would he believe that God was in charge all the time?  Why would he believe that God actually allows bad things to happen to us in order to fulfill his greater, more long-term plans of sustainability?  And is God really in charge of those things?  Is he really more powerfully omniscient than anyone who could do bad things to us?  And will he really promote our personal, spiritual, and temporal sustainability so that in the end he might use us to help others including the very ones who did bad things to us?  And if so, is that why it’s important to Spin the Story?  And when we do, is that what enables us to endure, to forgive, and to actually reach sustainability while still in servitude, bondage, impossible situations, or circumstances out of our control?

I would have to say Yes to all of these questions.  And this is why Spin the Story is one of the most powerful tools we can use to stay out of mental bondage when we go through hard times.

Listen:  He Reigns by Newsboys