TD Jakes - What's the Big Idea?
Joseph finally gets out of prison. Everybody spends all their time talking about what happened 'til he got out. But the real power is that he did get out. And when he did get out, he did better than the people who had never been in.
A group of my friends and I were having a debate about how people can come to our country and be more disciplined than us and go to school and take night classes and don't party and don't get drunk and don't get high, and while we're trying to take the easiest major that's available to us, they're graduating with degrees in chemical engineering and robotical science and philosophy and you wonder how in the world somebody who can barely speak the language comes over here and does better than we did. It's 'cause when you've been held back a long time and you finally do get an opportunity to get a release, you say, "I'm gonna live on purpose. I'm totally on purpose. I didn't come here to get high. I didn't come here to snort. I didn't come here to drop it like it's hot. I didn't come here for none of that. I came here with focus 'cause I'm gonna get my life on purpose. I got something to do. I got a time to reclaim. God restored to me the years that the canker worm and the palmer worm and the locusts ate up". Somebody holler "Give it back"!
And you sittin' around just chillin'. "I ain't going to class today. I'm tired". Sometimes God holds you back, restricts you, so that when he releases you, you'll really have appreciate. "I've always been taken care of, always been sheltered, always been covered". Your always can easily make you unthankful. When Joseph got out, woo, he shot right to the top. Right to the top. There he is, a inmate one day and the next day, he's riding in the chariot behind Pharaoh in Egypt. He's not even an Egyptian and he's running the Egyptian economy. Let me explain this to you. He is in control of the gross national economy for a country, that he is not even from. He ballin', shot calling, down and with it, got it going on. He doin' the thang. Nobody would believe that you could come from that and go to this. He is there. He has arrived. He has made it.
See, some of you can't give your real testimony 'cause if people would have seen you yesterday, they would never believe that Elder Hayley over here used to be that over there. But to God be the glory! Touch your neighbor and say, "You can't handle my truth". If I told you what I've been through, you couldn't handle it. I just gave you a watered down testimony 'cause you wouldn't believe the hell I've been to get where I am.
Purpose doesn't have anything to do with place or space. It doesn't have anything to do with address and locations, zip codes. Purpose can exist in a prison. Purpose can exist in a painful place. Isolation, demotion, segregation, adversity, trauma, divorce can not destroy purpose. Purpose can exist in the desert with no water, no care, no development, no nurturing, no nourishment and you can still live on purpose. In fact, purpose is the only thing that sustains you in the desert. It keeps you from dying. You know why Jesus couldn't die on the whipping post even though they whipped him with the cat o' nine tails until his entrails were hanging out, his intestines were hanging out before he got to the cross? He had been beaten so severely that most people died on the whipping post. You know why Jesus didn't die on the whipping post? Purpose.
Purpose will keep you alive in places that would have killed everybody else but some kind of way you survived it. You bled, you cried, it hurt, but you made it because it was written, "She shall not die here. I have a place for her to go". And some of you are living on purpose and you don't even know it. Anybody else that had been through what you've been through would have lost their mind, gone completely crazy, and threw in the towel. But because God had another purpose for your life, cancer couldn't kill you, liars couldn't kill you, hatred couldn't kill you, malice couldn't kill you. Ooh, my God. Am I helping anybody? Am I helping anybody? Slap somebody and tell 'em, "I'm a survivor". I don't even understand myself how I made it. I don't even know how I got here myself. I don't even know why I didn't die myself. I thought I was gonna die. It felt like I was gonna die. My emotions said I was gonna die but somehow or other God kept me going. To God be the glory!
I have tried all of my life to understand why God uses people and especially certain people because if you get close enough to anybody that God uses, and you have this superhero ideology of who they are, but if you really get to know 'em, they crazy too. That's the truth. And it, like, blew my mind 'cause I thought, "Et tu, Brute"? You would think that you were this super special individual who was just above everybody else and God used you because of the superior quality of the equipment. Mm-mm, just as crazy as a drunk water bug. You'll get it when you get home, but you know...
So I tried to understand why God used Joseph because now, let's be fair with his brothers. I can kind of understand why they would have an attitude. You know, I raised twins and I was very careful that if I bought one twin a toy, I bought the other twin a toy. So I always had to multiply by two. It wasn't gonna be no one bicycle; it had to be two. If there's gonna be one set of mittens, it had to be two sets of mittens. My sister could live off a dozen eggs for a week. I told her, my sister, we would blow a dozen eggs in one breakfast, easy. She said, "Really"? I said, "Yeah, yeah". We had five kids. We, you know, it was like feeding the United Nations. They bring my groceries home in a truck. I lost my ability to cook for one person. It just no excitement at all.
And it was always like that because you try to be fair, try to be fair, try to be fair. Try to be just. I understand these brothers 'cause, I mean, "Hey, Dad. I'm your son too. Why would you give him the coat of many colors and not give it to me? You had me first. I'm the oldest. I was working in the fields when Joseph wasn't even born". See, there's bitterness. All bitterness does not come through what happened. Some bitterness comes through what didn't happened. You know, how come it didn't happen for me? And I don't care who you are, and you might not admit it but when you see God blessing other people, and you know they ain't no better than you, sometimes they worse. I mean, you just a little off. They plumb outright crazy and you find God bless 'em and you've been in the background, waiting a long time, and you say, "This makes no sense". I don't think I would have thrown him in the pit but I can understand the frustration over what didn't happen.
When you start talking about letting it go, it's not always letting go of what did happen. It's letting go of what didn't happen. I thought we'd be happily ever after and it didn't happen. I thought I'd be running the company by now and it didn't happen. I thought we'd own our own house by now and it didn't happen. And I'm not bitter over what did happen; I'm bitter over what didn't happen. And I couldn't figure it out. I said, "I understand these brothers a little bit. I mean, Joseph, like, he's at the tail end of the family and he gets all of this preferential treatment. What's the big idea with blessing him over the top of me? What's the big idea with giving him the coat of many colors and giving him the opportunity and giving him the birthright? What's the big idea with doing all of that"?
I didn't understand it. I didn't understand it until Joseph is now the prince of Egypt and his brothers have come to Egypt because there's a famine in Palestine and they're coming seeking help, not knowing that Joseph is there. The father supposes that he's dead. The brothers don't know what happened to him, don't seem to care. They got all this baggage of all of this trauma that's happened in their life and here they come, giddy-upping into Egypt, coming in here with all of this injustice and all of this mistreatment, looking for favor and you mistreated everybody you touched along the way. Looking for favor and every time you were in a position of power you destroyed the person up under you. Looking for favor and every time you got up, you put your foot on me. Looking for favor and every time you were outside, you threw me in the pit.
It's not that I fell in the pit. It was what you said that threw me in the pit and you don't even care. And here you come running up now, wanting God to bless you, never thinking that the one that would end up with the power to bless you is the same one that you used your power to destroy because if you thought that you would ever run into some of the people you mistreated and need them, you would never have done them like you did them. But it's a funny thing about purpose.
Now, here's my problem, Elder. All the years I've heard this sermon preached, the preacher always polluted the text with their personality. When Joseph encounters his brothers, he says, "You meant it for evil but God made it good". And the preacher will always say, "You meant it for evil but God... touch your neighbor and say, 'But God,'" and all the better people go there, "Whoo, yes, Lord. Ain't it the truth, chil'? 'Cause everybody who's wrestling with some secret bitterness or pain or trauma reads good text through bad eyes. And what you see in the text is a reflection of what you brought to the text. And sometimes you so contaminate your wisdom with the pollution of your story that you've never been able to get healed because you only trust you to minister to you and because your physician is sick, your medicine is afflicted, and your results are not good. Whoo, high five a brother on that.
I was a grown man, I've been preaching since I was 19. I was a fully grown man before I understood the beauty of this text. The beauty of this text is here comes these brothers who have all plotted against Joseph and now they're down and out. Back then, they had it goin' on. They were big ballin' and shot calling. But life has hills and valleys and now they're in a valley and they're coming in with their hand out, needing a favor, and they're going in to see Pharaoh's chief financial officer about some sort of loan or extension to get them out of the pinch and they walk in there for the big meeting to do their PowerPoint presentation and right in the middle of the PowerPoint presentation the guy that they had made an appointment to see reveals himself and says, "I am your brother".
I bet they almost wet their pants. If there was anybody in the world that you don't wanna be vulnerable to, it's somebody that you mistreated and got every reason in the world to hate you and now here you are, vulnerable and you said, "Oh God, not you". Can you feel that? Watch this. I'm gonna make this point, I'm almost done, but watch this. He says, "You meant it for evil, but God made it good". Check this out. This dude is comforting the people who threw him in the pit and made the biggest chunk of his life horrible. Instead of stabbing them in the neck with a spoon which would be, you know, the average person's inclination, something has happened to him in the process that instead of hating them, here he is ministering to the very people who had mistreated him... Joseph had let it go.
And he says, "You threw me in the pit". And then he says in the next verse, he says, "But God did it. You did it, but God did it. You did it, but God did it. You did it, but God did it. It was your hand, but his purpose. It was your lie, but he orchestrated it. You fired me, but God did it. You rejected me, but God did it. You forsook me, but God did it. You lied on me, but God did it". Oh, y'all don't hear what I'm saying. And he says, check this out. He says, "I went through all of that so that I could get here ahead of you to do you a favor that the blessing might be in posterity, that generationally, our people might survive in the earth".
And I thought, "Oh my God, look at the big idea". Forgiveness is a big idea. And you'll never be able to do it when you're down here punching like this. You have to be big enough to see the greater purpose of the pain you went through or you will never be able to let it go. That's what he was saying. That's what Joseph is saying. Here's what I suggest to you today. I understand now why Joseph got the favor. Because Joseph was a man of big ideas. And God can't give big destiny to little people because the littleness of the way they think will snuff out the integrity of the opportunity. God doesn't mind you being little when he gives you the big idea, as long as you are a person of big ideas and can see the higher purpose, then you are released to flow into your destiny.
Now, get this. Get this. I almost got you where I need you to be. If Joseph would have been a bitter person, he would have never been operating his gifts in prison and he would have never gotten out. I'm telling you that creativity does not function in bitterness. Come on with me, come on with me, come on with me. You can't think your biggest thoughts when your mind is full of little thoughts and little injustices and little offenses. What you have to do - that's why Jesus said, "If somebody does something to you, forgive 'em. If they do it again, forgive 'em again. If they do it again and again and again, forgive 'em again. Not because they're nice, not because they're right, not because they deserve it, but so that you are free to have your energy and your power and your strength to do what God called you to do. If you don't forgive them, the poison of what they did to you today will end up tomorrow".
I just threw him that towel. In order to catch what I was throwing at him, his hands had to be free. If he was holding on to anything, he wouldn't have been able to catch what I was throwing at him because his hands would have been tied up with what he was holding in his hand. The only way he could catch what I was throwing toward him is that his hands were available for what was before him, rather than holding on to what was behind him. And I'm teaching this today so that you can get your hands free and get ready to receive what God has for you. God is trying to throw you something. God is trying to release something. God is trying to send you something.
Stand and put your hands up. This is lifting up holy hands. The Bible says that men everywhere ought to lift up holy hands without wrath and without doubting. What does wrath and doubting have to do with raising hands? God said, "I don't want anything in your hands. I want your hands totally available for my exclusive use so that whatever I throw you, you are not holding on to anything, that will stop you from receiving, what God's gonna give you". Put your hands together and give him a praise.