We have four grandsons. And it has come to be something of a rite of passage that whenever there is a graduation or other important event at school, Janet and I take them shopping for outfits appropriate for the occasion. All of our grandsons know that my first job was working in a young men’s clothing store in Beverly Hills on the south side of Chicago, so they like it when I help them out.
Mom always dressed us in nice stuff and the owner of the store where we shopped, Mr. Heidecker, offered me a job when I turned sixteen. Several other students from Morgan Park High School also worked there and I learned quite a bit about how suits, slacks and shirts were supposed to fit. I really enjoyed working there and my future father-in-law would even stop by our home to see the latest stuff in my closet. I had some great clients as well. I remember selling clothes to Mrs. Ernie Banks for their children. You remember Ernie, don’t you? Mr. Cub – the guy who always said, “Let’s play two!”
I worked there through the rest of high school and into my college years, as I commuted to school and lived at home. So our kids know that I, in my day, was something of a clothes horse… Now I get the call whenever somebody needs a suit or sport outfit for some upcoming event.
Last week, our grandson Carter let us know that a school event was coming up and he asked to go shopping. We have our favorite store and this afternoon we headed out to find him a suit. As luck would have it, they had a nice selection and we found a really great blue suit, as well as shirts and ties. I think we set a world record for getting everything picked out. In fact, everything fit perfectly so we were back home rather quickly – nothing needed alterations. It was a fun outing – I always enjoy having the boys ask me for advice.
It seems that every year or so, one of the boys needs a new dress outfit. It reminds me that in the Bible there are many stories of clothes and descriptions of the way that people are dressed. But there is one particular story that I have always enjoyed. It is the story of Joseph and his coat of many colors. The entire story is too long to go into here, but suffice it say that Joseph’s brothers sold him and that started a long period of distress for Joseph. Eventually, he ends up as the second most powerful person in Egypt, interpreting dreams and assisting Pharaoh and the people of the land who were experiencing a famine.
Joseph was eventually reunited with his brother and father as well. When I was in seminary, I noticed that every time Joseph changed clothes, his fortunes changed – either for the worse or the better. What was really interesting about his story is that my instructors had never noticed the parallel about the change in status whenever Joseph changed clothes. Different clothes – a different chapter in the life of Joseph was about to unfold.
After serving time in prison, Joseph was remembered by a former inmate and was brought before Pharaoh to interpret a dream. Before he left prison and was led into the presence of Pharaoh, he was dressed in robes… As you now know, that signified and change in status was about to happen. This time, it was the start of the rise of Joseph to a position of authority in Egypt. That brings us to our verse for tonight.
Moses, the author of Genesis, tells us about Joseph’s release from prison in Genesis 41:14, “So Pharaoh sent for Joseph, and he was quickly brought from the dungeon. When he had shaved and changed his clothes, he came before Pharaoh.” The rest of the account of Joseph documents his important role in this foreign land, as well as the presence of his family when they eventually moved to Egypt.
My encouragement this evening is that God has a plan for each of us and God’s omniscience reminds us that His plan is usually better than anything we could dream up for ourselves. As we get more comfortable reading the Bible, we can start to discern what is going to happen to certain characters by looking for patterns. That’s kind of the way that it is in our own lives. We each develop patterns of behavior that are predictable to others. My prayer is that we will be aware of the patterns in our own lives and how God is active day to day – just as he was in the life of Joseph. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…