Did you ever hear something that just stuck, really stuck? You hear it once and somehow it quickly jumps to an easily accessed long-term memory. That’s what happened to me in the early 1980’s. I was at a Campus Crusade for Christ gathering when the speaker started talking about the clarity of our vision. He asked, “Do you have 50:20 vision?”
Joseph had 50:20 vision. “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good” (Genesis 50:20). I have a hunch that Joseph didn’t always have this kind of vision. He clearly didn’t have it when he was pleading for his life from the empty cistern (Genesis 42:21). He likely did not have it when he was falsely accused and thrown into the dungeon, though I wonder if this is where it began to develop. I wonder if it was here that he began to view his circumstances from a different perspective. “Why didn’t Potiphar just kill me? Why am I being honored again? How is it that the warden trusts me so much?”
As Joseph continued to ask questions of (rather than merely complain about) his circumstances did he begin to see something that was hidden from him before? Was his vision about life changing? The thought of the cupbearer putting a good word in to Pharaoh for him likely got his hopes up but how much did the long delay dash his hopes against the rocks of time?
I’m sure his spiritual Lasik procedure was greatly enhanced the moment he became Vizier of Egypt. Even so, my guess is it did not become perfectly clear until Genesis 42:9. When the brothers bowed low to Joseph, “then he remembered his dreams about them.” What a moment that must have been! The last 15 years or so were not a mistake or accident. Joseph wasn’t a victim! God had been there all along! After Jacob’s death the brothers feared that this was the time when Joseph would enact his revenge but Joseph really wasn’t angry. He had no desire to seek revenge. He truly was seeing life in a new way.
He said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God?” What the brothers did was wrong and that wrong needed to be addressed. But Joseph knew that passing judgment and punishment was not for him to do; that was God’s domain (Romans 12:19; Hebrews 10:30). Joseph was simply to serve God’s purpose in his own generation (Acts 13:36).
50:20 vision makes a difference in how we view the people and the circumstances that surround us.
I think developing 50:20 vision begins when we learn to look through instead of at a window. When I look at a window I see my own reflection but when I look through a window I am able to see the world. In the same way, when I look at my circumstances I tend to focus on my own needs, my own pain and my own loss. But when I look through the circumstances I can begin to see other things. I begin to see God’s grace in the hands of others. I begin to see a pattern of God’s provision that I never saw before or evidence of His activity that used to be hidden from me. “For this reason, we fix our eyes, not on what is seen but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18).
50:20 vision helps us see that which has always been present but never before perceived.
There is so much more I could say here but let me close with a final thought. If Romans 8:28, 29 is true (that God does use everything for our good and that good is to conform us to the likeness of His Son), and if Matthew 28:20 and Hebrews 13:5 is true (that Jesus is with us always and God will never leave us or forsake us), then how might these promises become the starting point for our own spiritual Lasik treatment?
How’s your vision today? Are you moving toward 50:20?
May God help us all learn to look through our experiences and not just at them.
Enjoying the journey with you.