At the beginning of 2021, my One Year Chronological Bible Reading Plan had me in the throes of Joseph’s story—after more than twenty years believing his son was dead, Jacob, the Hebrew patriarch, learned Joseph was actually alive. In his frail, old age, Jacob faced the startling proposition to leave Canaan, the land he’d known all his life, and travel to Egypt where he would be reunited with his long-lost son. Such a journey would be a heavy task for one so old and weak. He couldn’t walk or ride an animal; he’d have to be carried the entire way.
No doubt Jacob wondered how it could even be true that his son, whom he’d been led to believe had been mauled and eaten by wild animals at seventeen, was alive in Egypt. And not just alive, but a very great and powerful man second only to Pharaoh himself. Despite the testimony of his other sons, it still seemed like a dream. If Joseph was alive—of which Jacob’s remaining sons convinced him—would he make it to Egypt to see him? What if his health deteriorated on the way? Despite his questions and fears, the nearly unbelievable news brought life back to Jacob’s weary spirit. He got in the cart and, with all his family and belongings, headed to Egypt.
When the caravan stopped at Beersheba, perhaps the closest spot to Egypt that Jacob was familiar with, God came to him in a vision. “Jacob, Jacob,” God called.
“Here I am,” Jacob said.
“I am God, the God of your father. Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for there I will make you into a great nation.” The voice was calm, a breeze on the night air. And then God said, “I myself will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also bring you up again, and Joseph’s hand shall close your eyes.”
At that time, I didn’t know what it was about those words—I myself will go down with you—but they leaped out of the screen and took hold of me. I was floored.
“I myself…” You, your very self? With me?
I wanted to cry. I wanted to scream. I couldn’t then, and still can’t, recall a more profound and apparent spiritual experience in my life.
I felt like Digory and Polly at the end of The Magician’s Nephew as they bid farewell to Aslan and were tossed and floating in a sea of gold: “Such a sweetness and power rolled about them and over them and entered them that they felt they had never really been happy or wise or good, or even alive and awake, before.”
Cover image by Evie Shaffer.