Today's Lectionary Text
Genesis 43:12Take double the money with you. Carry back with you the money that was returned in the top of your sacks; perhaps it was an oversight.
Remember the story of Joseph? One of Jacob’s sons, he’s an arrogant kid who is left for dead by his brothers, but miraculously climbs to 2nd in command over all of Egypt!
The verse above happens when, year’s later, some of Jacob’s sons come to Egypt looking for help during a famine. They have no clue who Joseph is, and he slips them some extra money without them knowing. When they find it, Jacob thinks it must have been an oversight, and sends his sons back with double the money.
What intrigues me in this little vignette is the use of the word “oversight.” Did it ever occur to you that you could describe being a success and a failure all with one word!? A person can both HAVE oversight over people, land, etc., and can also MAKE an oversight.
An example: “I have been given OVERSIGHT of all of our business’s finances; unfortunately, I forgot to pay anyone, which was an OVERSIGHT on my part.”
That’s a handy word to carry around if you’re looking to weigh out your progress in this world. Try this: take out a piece of paper, draw a line down the middle, and write “oversight” at the top of each column.
One the left hand, make note of all the authority you’ve been given, all the rungs you’ve climbed on the ladder, all you’ve been trusted with. Good for you, that’s a nice list of oversight!
Then, on the right side, jot down some of the more notable mistakes you’ve made, the details you missed, the balls you’ve dropped, your negligence. Hmm. You’ve definitely made your share of oversights.
You see that line there on the page, between the two columns? That’s the line you and I walk most of our lives. Trying to hold our own between HAVING oversight, and MAKING one. Between success and failure. Pretty much everybody walks their own version of that line.
We tend to spend a lot of our lives measuring like this, but God measures faithfulness. The story of Joseph and his family turns out to be a story of forgiveness and redemption, a story of God at work in the midst of the triumphs and the trip-ups of very human people.
The Good News is that God is with us for both kinds of oversight. God doesn’t measure progress the same way we do. Instead, the more we try to view the world according to God’s Kingdom priorities rather than our own, the more we’ll walk a faithful line between success and failure, abundance and deficit…
and feast or famine.
-Rev. Mitch Todd
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