Text: Genesis 50:16-21; Romans 8:28; Jeremiah 29:11
According to Cambridge English Dictionary, Bamboozle means to trick or deceive someone, often by confusing them. The path of life is so bamboozling or confusing that fellow humans can only deceive themselves to claim that they fully understand it. People have risen to think they can control events, their destinies and that of their fellow human beings. But, they are always reminded by the fact that JEHOVAH, not them, has the final say. The Bible clearly puts it forth that “…in him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). Therefore, we would only continue to get ourselves confused more and more if we try to deny this fact- JEHOVAH has the final say.
The brothers of Joseph were perplexed by this reality, since they took it upon themselves to see that they thwart the destiny of their own brother. Several of such realities have been experienced in every parts of this world, in the Prestigious ECWA Theological Seminary, Igbaja and in the lives of members of this great community from the leadership down to the students. Joseph’s dreams and refusal to cooperate with the evil deeds of his brothers made him an object of not just scorn, but extermination. Thus from the text we have read, we can deduce that God does have plans for HIS children, No human being can thwart GOD’s plan for our lives, difficult times will come our way and our attitudes are the activating factors of God’s plan for our lives
- God does have good plans for His children
Many grow with the thought that life is an accident where people are born and the lucky ones enjoy while the unlucky are doomed. The implication of this thought when well examined is devastating, unbiblical and in fact heretic. This pattern of thought could have been built through culture, narrow-mindedness and to summarize it all, holding unto a worldview that is not biblical.
The Bible in many portions, unequivocally emphasize that God has plans for His children: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”. (Jeremiah 29:11). These plans He prepares each of us to accomplish in our lives through the people, circumstances and situations He brings our way. And being a respecter of no one, HIS plans are not based on class, status or any of such social strata. It is a fact that coming to ECWA Theological Seminary, Igbaja is an avenue to prepare us for that which GOD has planned for our lives.
- No human being can thwart GOD’s plan for our lives
People may have their perspectives on us, but in the words of one of our Great leaders, “no one can put a comma where God puts a full stop.” People will try due to either sheer wickedness or ignorance to try to stop us from getting to where God desires for us. They might succeed in delaying us but they can never stop us. And even that act of delaying, in which they may think they are succeeding, they will only succeed in helping to pattern things the way God had planned.
- Difficult times will come our way
Joseph did face serious difficult times both in the course of his journey to Egypt and in in Egypt. Difficult times are dreaded by many. However, those who endure and seek to learn from all that comes their way, will come to realize that they are made better and stronger through difficult times. Someone once said, “A gem cannot be polished without friction, nor can we be perfected without adversity.” Such times have been recorded to have strengthened the stamina of great people. Lou Holtz said, “Show me someone who has done something worthwhile, and I’ll show you someone who has overcome adversity.”
On handling such times, Michael Jordan said, “Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.” These if we do in earnest, our realization would reflect the words of Robert H Schuller that, “Tough times never last, but tough people do.”
- Our attitudes are the activating factors of God’s plan for our lives.
As Charlie Jones noted, “Things don’t go wrong and break your heart so you can become bitter and give up. They happen to break you down and build you up so you can be all that you were intended to be.” Therefore, the matriculants and every one of us need to be reminded that challenges whether caused by people who think they can define your life or by situations, all is for good. The determinant is your attitude. Attitudes of cruelty, rebellion, insubordination, disobedience, cutting corners, dishonesty, manipulations and the like, will blind our eyes from seeing God at work in those situations. On the other hand, attitudes of honesty, humility, submission, reverence, persistent and consistent hard work, will lead us to a point where we would like Joseph say to those situations and peoples, “You meant it for evil but God meant it for good. He has sent me ahead of you to save the lives of many.”
The few years you have to spend here is not insignificant. You will come across people and situations, some easy and some tough ones. Some, whatever shape they appear to you, are the products of your imaginations. No matter what it is, do remember that Attitude is everything. Joseph would not have gotten to that level let alone making such inspiring declaration, if he had gone about grudging against God, people or situations. His commitment in the home of Potiphar, which was rewarded with a frame up, did not discourage him from doing the right thing even in the prison. I therefore congratulate the matriculants and all of us rejoicing with them. I pray that God, in His infinite mercy, will give us all, the grace to trust HIM wholly, knowing that HE alone has the final say and can help us navigate this bamboozling path of life. I also pray HE will help us have the right attitude in every situation. Thank you and GOD bless you.
Matriculation Sermon by Hussaini, Victor Fai, at the Summer School Matriculation Exercise of 2017, at the Chapel of Truth, ECWA Theological Seminary, Igbaja, Kwara State, Nigeria, On 14th of June, 2017.