Wise Words from Williams: How old are you?
There is a great famine in the land of Canaan, and Jacob and his family head for Egypt where his son Joseph is Governor, and he can find food to feed his family. Joseph takes his father Jacob to visit Pharaoh. After they have exchanged pleasantries Pharaoh asked Jacob, “How old are you?”
Jacob answered: “The years of my pilgrimage are a hundred and thirty. My years have been few and difficult, and they do not equal the years of the pilgrimage of my fathers…” ((Genesis 47:9 NIV).
It sounds as if Jacob felt really old.
Sometimes what we go through and what we have to deal with can make us age beyond our years. Sometimes how much we have aged has nothing to do with how old we are. Life can do that to us.
Those who know Jacob’s life know that Jacob had some difficult days from the time he was a young man. If it hadn’t been for the grace of God Jacob would not have survived.
The vast majority of his sons were not good sons by any measurement whatsoever. He married into a family known for scheming and cheating; and he became a victim of those behaviors. His mother taught him deception, showed him how to lie even to his father and her husband. He grew up in a divided home.
But Jacob had to bear responsibility for his actions, too. He was manipulative, he tricked his brother to get what he wanted, and he along with his mother deceived and lied to his father. In deceit Jacob was a master as he stood in the presence of his father and told him he was not Jacob, but Esau.
Sometimes in life what we give out is what we get back. Jacob got back what he gave out and probably more when we consider what he went through.
When you look at your life through the difficulties you have endured your life can seem long. And you can feel tired. When you look at your life through the good times, times that were far and few between, life can seem so short and those times so few. Jacob had another 17 years to go and these would end up being the most peaceful years of his life, thanks mostly to Joseph and what God had done through the life of Joseph.
Fame and fortune can carry us very far. But it wasn’t fame and fortune that carried Joseph. It was God. And Joseph realized that more than anything else he had to live for God.
As I finish this article the funeral of Whitney Houston is taking place. I feel for her family. Some people have demonized her. Others have made her a saint. I just feel for her family, especially her mother and daughter. But in this age when all of us want to be somebody in the eyes of others; and money and status, popularity and power are what society uses to measure our worth I want those of us with the gifts, the talents, the abilities to be a “Whitney Houston” to remember from where those talents and abilities came.
Whether you are a Moses, Joseph, Jacob, Whitney or Jane Doe, always look ahead. Our choices today will either compliment us or condemn us tomorrow.
The Rev. Valentine Williams is the Pastor of Transforming Life Center Church in Pineville, a motivational speaker, seminar/workshop leader, personal development coach, adjunct instructor and the author of Youth Empowered to Succeed. He is also the president of Williams Speaking and Training Services, a people development organization that conducts professional and personal development training and staff development workshops. For questions, comments or speaking engagements contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.