Last night, my new friend and I were sitting in the foyer waiting for a ride to a wedding reception we were to attend. My friend was telling me about her neighbour's adulterous affair. It was too-typical sludge: a lover scampering off in the morning; a crying spouse; betrayal and lies. Then she told me another similar tale. It was a murky, dark topic of conversation.
"The story that you're telling me reminds me of the
true story of a man named Joseph, a story told in
the B'ble," I said. "Can I tell you that story?"
She seemed agreeable, but suggested that we start
walking toward where we were to meet the driver.
As we stepped out of the elevator into the parking lot,
I started again. "Joseph was from Israel. Do you
know where Israel is?" I asked. "Yes, of
course I know where Israel is."
So the story began, as we walked down the dusty street
near my flat. "Joseph was his father's favourite son.
His brothers despised him and wanted to kill him. They
came up with a dishonest plan...."
We turned onto a secondary road, looking both ways for vehicles. The conversation quieted for a few moments. "But
yes, you were telling me about Joseph...?"
"Joseph was taken away by slave traders and sold to an
Soon we had reached the main road near my house, the
road that my coworker says he pr@ys every time he
crosses. "Are you good at crossing roads?" my
friend asked. I thought I was decent, but it proved a
challenge even for an advanced road-crosser like
myself. (Local traffic has a few unique features:
it can come from any direction, at any time, and at any
speed. I have yet to see a functional crosswalk or stop
light.) We made it halfway across, and waited a few
minutes at the median. A little lady started
across, waving for vehicles to stop for her, and
signaling for us to follow. We reached the other side of
the street and positioned ourselves at a relatively calm
spot next to the busy road. We continued to wait for our
"chauffeur," who was apparently on his way.
"So, yes, finish about Joseph," she said. We got
to the part about Joseph's exalted status and Potiphar's
wife's attempt to seduce him. With joy, I told her about
the triumphant moment where Joseph ran away from
adultery and chose to do what pleased G0d. The story
continued with his many years in prison, and his later
exaltation after suffering.
A few dogs wandered by. One came too close for
comfort. My friend adjusted her shawl and checked
her phone. Her friend called to say that he was
approaching, watching for us along the busy roadway.
We had a few more minutes to wrap up the story with
Joseph's exemplary forgiveness of his brothers,
and his statement about how G0d used even an evil
thing for good. Then her friend's car approached,
and we trundled off to the reception.
As I think about our evening, I remember that there were
street dogs. There was the polluted air of rush hour.
There were blaring horns. There was our late, late ride.
But amidst the chaos, there was the peace-filled
story of Joseph. A story of integrity,
faithfulness and forgiveness. A story that's true to
life, both in it's account of man's failure...and
the possibility of man's redemption. A beautiful
story...especially when you're hearing it for the