Time and Space #19: Waiting in the Present

Was Joseph a good guy or a bad guy?

Or some of both?

I don’t like the fact that he married the daughter of a priest.  One wonders about his father-in-law’s spiritual requirements of him.

He named his first son something about forgetting his father’s house.  Ouch.

He used a silver cup for divination.

And he utterly destroyed a capitalist system and transferred all of the liquid and non-liquid wealth of the nation to the king, reducing the nation to slavery.  I don’t think God sent him to Egypt to destroy the nation, and I think the reason the Egyptians eventually enslaved the Hebrews is because a Hebrew inappropriately enslaved the Egyptians.

On the other hand, he was clearly picked by God for this task, and he interpreted dreams through the power of the One True God, fully giving Him credit for that gifting.

Good guy/bad guy?  You pick.

What I do like about him is the fact that he could live in the present without repudiating his past.

He seemed to be fully engaged in his job as Prime Minister, not pining for justice or going on and on about the issues of the past.  He clearly still had a heart for his dad and his baby brother (not so much for the other ten!).  But he lived in the present and built vigorously.

When God brought the past into the present, by bringing Jacob and Benjamin back to him, he was instantly ready to deal with the past in a productive way – first bringing his brothers to repentance and then restoring his family’s fortunes through his political connections.

That is an art form – living large in the present, while there is huge unfinished business from the past.  He appropriated the grace from this time, while letting God orchestrate the alignment of the past time with the present time in a way that He could engage with.

But at the same time, he could fully engage the unfinished business from the past, when God brought it to him.

As much as I don’t like him, I do appreciate his handling of time.

One frustrated mother of a Prophet cried, “She has eight toes in the future and two in the past.”

Not Joseph.  He had ten toes in the present.

Until God aligned time and space to bring the past into the present.

Then He used the present to heal the past.

Not too shabby as a model for wise living.

Copyright February 2018 


Posted in Sanctifying Time | 4 Comments

Time and Space #18: Staying in Sync with God

Try this picture.

You run a medium sized business and are doing quite nicely.  You have a net worth on paper of $25 million and plenty of cash in the bank for any toys you want.

Your product requires a certain mineral that is primarily available from China.  You have a long term contract with them.  All is good.

The US and China get caught in a trade war through no fault of your own.  Suddenly your supply is cut off.  You scramble to find replacement resources, but the cost is sky high.

For years you struggle with rescuing the business.  It is your obsession day and night.  You try a different line of products, and different design, but year after year, your business volume drops and your profit margin vanishes.

You are at retirement age and are looking at bankruptcy.

Suddenly, your scarce mineral is found in a copper mine in Arizona and you are able to purchase it at less than the previous price, with almost no shipping charges, and at the same time, the government approaches you with a ginormous order for your product.

In a day, you are back in business with your core competency, with a premium supply of needed resources, and a government contract to provide one of your widgets to every member of the armed forces, with a new model replacing all those in just three years.

You are rescued and back in the gravy.

Switch the story.  Make it Jacob instead of you.

He goes from wealth in Canaan to poverty in Canaan, to refugee status in Egypt, to wealth and privilege in Egypt.

Those are the FACTS of his external environment.

God changed the environment he was in (space) in a very short period of time, executing with precision a plan that had been envisioned long ago (time).

No flaws on God’s part.

The question is whether Jacob could sync with God emotionally and enter into this new season with robust joy.

It would seem not.  When Jacob met Pharaoh, there was this exchange.

And Jacob said to Pharaoh, “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

There is a certain truth to what he said.  Due to his deplorable choices, he certainly had hit a few bumps in the road along the way.  BUT, to be just given freedom, wealth and privilege by Pharaoh and to focus on the past instead of the future suggests he had a trauma bond to the past.

So back to you.  Are you in the middle of big pain now?  Then this blog is not for you.  Have you come out of the pain in terms of real life circumstances, but you are still mired in yesterday’s pain?

You may wish to take steps to bring your emotions in line with your external reality, so that you are all in one time and space, not fractured.

Copyright February 2018 by Arthur Burk


Posted in Sanctifying Time | 4 Comments

Time and Space #17: Behind the Scenes

From our vantage point, we can see the grand design.  Joseph, dreams, Egypt, cougar, prison, cup bearer, Pharaoh, dream, prime minister, Jacob comes down, reconciliation.

There are lots of time/space pieces here that keep the story from being a bunch of unrelated data points.

But while Joseph was doing time in prison for a rape he didn’t commit, it was hard to see the bigger picture.

The morning Pharaoh work up in a tizzy, Joseph woke up bored.  Same old, same old.  He had no way of knowing that God was messing with the weather, the economy, Pharaoh’s sleep, and that God had given all the magicians and wise men a double dose of dumb that day.

But . . . whether he saw it or not, it had happened.

Suddenly there was an out of breath messenger banging on the door and Joseph was catapulted from the prison to the barbershop, through the shower, the haberdashery and into the palace.

Where he stayed.

God had, in reality, been aligning all sorts of things in time and space for decades while it looked like Joseph’s life was going less than nowhere.

How about your life?

It is easy to celebrate the time/space gifts from God when we see them.  It is far more noble worship to celebrate by faith the things God aligned for you today, that won’t impact your life until next year!

Copyright February 2018 by Arthur Burk 

Posted in Sanctifying Time | 9 Comments

Time and Space #16: Multiple Agendas

Joseph presumably just wanted to go home to Daddy (and tattle).

Reuben wanted to rescue Joseph and send him back home (with a vow of silence).

One or more of the brothers wanted to kill him.

Some Midianites “happened” to come by at just the right time and Judah decided to go for the gold instead of the blood.

So Joseph ended up in Egypt.

My opinion is that this was God’s doing.

Joseph was a Ruler redemptive gift, who was pampered by his Daddy.  He needed a couple of intense trainings to be able to run all of Egypt’s bureaucracy.   So God controlled the timing of Reuben being assigned to the flocks, and the Midianites coming by, so that Joseph didn’t die or go home to Daddy.

Often God’s exquisite aligning of time and space we attribute to the devil.  He just enrolled us in a class, without our permission, to unpack something He saw in us, that we were not unpacking.

It just might take a few years to see the beauty of His objective shining larger than the pain of the training.

Copyright February 2018 by Arthur Burk 


Posted in Sanctifying Time | 7 Comments

Time and Space #15: Health

Sarah had a baby at 90 years old.


I have always imagined this great grandmotherly looking woman joyously caring for a baby.  Doesn’t seem overly hard for God to juice her endocrine system for a special purpose.

But that is not how it worked.

In Genesis 20, in the three month window before Isaac’s conception, Abraham took her to Philistia.  Before going, he asked her to do the “You are my sister thing” and sure enough, once there, she got picked up by the king himself to be part of his harem.

Now think about it.

You are a king.  You have a harem.  You would presumably be quite picky about who you add to your harem.  Great grandmotherly looking women would not be at risk of your roving eye.

In other words, Sarah did not look 90 years old.  God had not just juiced her endocrine system.  He either kept her from aging, or rolled the clock back about a half a century or so for this occasion.

When Sarah was in Philistia, she had no wrinkles, no curvature of the spine, no grey hair, no creaky joints, no brown spots on her face or hands, no sagging anything, anywhere, no daily fiber pills to improve motility and no high blood pressure meds, ruining her liver.

She was home-coming-queen stunning at 90 years old.

Spry enough to chase a toddler around the yard and toss him in the air.

I think this is another expression of time and space.  God manipulated the speed (time and space combined) of a million facets of her biology in order to keep all of her body systems sparkly.

I suspect part of aging is not only the slowing down of a system, but the desynchronization of various systems in the body.

She was in tune – everything in sync with everything else.

Because God can make any exception He wants to anyone’s time/space alignment.

Copyright February 2018 by Arthur Burk 

Posted in Sanctifying Time | 8 Comments

Time and Space #14: Where was Faith?

Jacob and Esau were duking it out in the womb.  Rebekah fussed at God about the fact that her dream pregnancy was becoming a nightmare, and He just shrugged it off – this was millennia long international conflict in her womb.


Time passed.

The sibling rivalry grew and morphed as circumstances changed.

Then there was that time/space encounter when Esau had a deep need and Jacob had the resources to meet that need.

Jacob knew the prophecy that he would rule over his brother.  He also knew that his brother had been beyond dominant all these years.

He seized the moment to subordinate his brother through force of need.

God had orchestrated time and space to move him one step closer to the fulfillment of the prophetic word.

Or had He?

My father was fond of pointing out that the serendipitous availability of a berth for Jonah on the ship to Joppa was not necessarily from the hand of God.

David was quick to repel the suggestions of his men in the cave that this was God’s time to kill Saul.  They felt time and space were aligned by God for the death of an enemy.  David felt time and space were aligned to give him another opportunity to cultivate trust with Saul.

Two different views of the same precise alignment.

What if the episode with Esau and Jacob’s stew was a test from God, not a gift from God?  What if God wanted Jacob to reach out in a life giving way to the brother who had been crosswise with him from the git-go?

Most of us would concur that God did not need Rebekah’s help to deliver Isaac’s blessing to Jacob.  That one was 100% forced, contrived, manipulated and stolen.

The stew incident involved absolutely no deception.  Jacob was blatant and forthright in his overt, intentional, deliberate exploitation of Esau’s moment of need.

I question whether God needed Jacob’s help there either.

All that is purely speculative.  That was them.  I am a different person in a different world with no such congenital conflict pursuing me!

I am at the opposite extreme from Jacob in my personality.  I tend to avoid my enemies, rather than look for a chance to overcome them.

So what if God has arranged time and space for me to be able to show mercy to an opponent?

And what if I very skillfully avoided being in the same space at the same time with someone who has trashed me in the past?

Is there really any difference between Jacob distorting an opportunity to show mercy to an opponent and my escaping/avoiding an opportunity to show mercy to an opponent?

Perhaps not.

God’s alignment of time and space is not always a fun hug.

Sometimes it is a stunningly painful, strategic event that will color history for millennia.

Copyright February 2018 by Arthur Burk


Posted in Sanctifying Time | 6 Comments

Time and Space #13: Now and Future

God brought Abram to Canaan to steward the land.  Instead, he enjoyed it.

And his grasp of stewardship was so dismal that he illegally gave away half of the land to his nephew who had anti-stewardship software running all the time.

God was miffed at Abram and scolded him for that, adding that God did not acknowledge the transfer of ownership at all and that the land still belonged to Abram and his seed.

Furthermore, God fussed at Abram to get up out of his recliner under the Oak of Mamre and to walk the whole land, checking it out, observing the assets and the liabilities.  God wanted him to act like a steward since he was called to be a steward.

The kicker was that Abram’s seed would take possession of the land almost a half a millennia later.

Jack Welch was famous for his next quarter “stretch goals.”  Most publicly held corporations have to share with the financial analysts their economic targets for the next 90 days.  Elected officials have the two year election cycle nagging them relentlessly.  The really audacious business planners have five and ten year goals.

Question:            So what do you do with a God who wants you to act on space in this time, with an eye toward the consequences 400 years from now – a quite different time?

Answer:               You either ignore Him like Abram did, while you focus on the benefits of time and space being in alignment in the present time, or you grow up and synchronize with Him, acting like a Noble Subject, not a consumer.

He will tell you what He wants you to do now.  He may or may not tell you who it is for, or when the fruit of your actions will become visible.

If we only do what makes sense in our itty bitty time frame of three generations, then we have limited our usefulness to The God of All History.

Copyright January 2018 by Arthur Burk




Posted in Sanctifying Time | 7 Comments