Carol McLead and Meeting God in the Wait (Part 1)

John FarrellBy John Farrell13 Minutes

John Farrell: Could tell me a little bit about your book, Meanwhile: Meeting God in the Wait?

Carol McLeod: I’d love to. Meanwhile is a look at the life of Joseph of the Old Testament. I don’t know if your readers are familiar with it, but here was this incredible godly young man knowing God was going to use him and his life imploded. Talk about a terrible, no good, very bad life. That’s what Joseph had.

His story is told in the book of Genesis, which is the first book in the Bible, but Genesis is not just the first book in the Bible, it’s also the foundation of the Bible. These principles that we can extract from Genesis are principles to live by today. They’re foundational in reading the scriptures.

In Joseph’s story, the foundational principle is that what the enemy or people meant for evil, God will use for good. That’s what it says in Genesis 50:20, which I’ve used as the anchor verse for his story. So, we look at the life of Joseph, everything that went on, how he responded and apply those principles to our lives today … meanwhile meeting God in the wait.

JF: You mentioned the anchor verse. What is it about that anchor verse in Joseph’s story that sums it up?

Carol: Joseph was his daddy’s favorite. Jacob was his dad and Jacob adored Joseph. Joseph had 11 brothers and the 10 older brothers hated him. They bullied him. One day they beat him up, threw him in a pit, sold him into slavery, and told their daddy that Joseph was dead.

Joseph went on this meanwhile journey into Egypt. The title of the book, Meanwhile, is actually written in scripture. The word “meanwhile” in Joseph’s story. The first chapter of Joseph’s story is Genesis 36, and the last verse of that chapter—that’s the chapter where he was beat up, left for dead, and everything—Genesis 37:36 says, “Meanwhile, the Midianites sold Joseph in Egypt to Potiphar.”

When I was reading this passage, that word jumped out at me—meanwhile. There is a meanwhile in all of our lives when we don’t like what’s happening, but we can be assured that God is working behind the scenes. That no matter what the enemy throws at us, no matter what people throw at us, our God is abundantly able to take those situations, to take those circumstances, to take that treatment, and use it for a greater good.

Let’s skip ahead to Genesis 50:20, which is the verse we’re talking about. It’s the end of the story, Jacob has just died, and Joseph’s brothers are scared because they think that Joseph is going to stop feeding them and stop taking care of them. Joseph looked at them—and I picture by this time they’re middle-aged, later in life—and they’re balding and they have these long Hebrew beards and maybe paunchy bellies. Joseph looks at them and says, “Guys, what you meant for evil, God meant for good to save a generation alive.”

God was able to take that mistreatment, that abuse, and set Joseph in his destiny to save the world at the time of famine, which, I might add, is the first famine mentioned in the Bible. What was the famine? They didn’t know, but Joseph knew because he knew the heart and the mind of God. This is foundational to our lives … that no matter what’s going on, God is able to work it for a greater good.

Joseph being in Egypt was not God’s plan B for him. It was not. God took what the brothers intended for evil. And that word, “meant” in Genesis 50:20, “what you meant for evil, God meant for good” is the Hebrew word machashabah and it’s like a creative imagining. It’s an invention. It’s a word that implies forethought, planning, in order to get a desired result.

God was thinking about Joseph’s life, and He said, “I’m going to create something so spectacular from Joseph’s life.” He used Joseph to have the answers during a time of famine. That’s how that verse applies to our lives. And let me just say this too, you and I live in a world of famine. We are the Joseph of our own story, and our world is starving for truth, joy, and hope, and we’re the ones with the answer. We’re the ones with the heavenly download. We must be feeding the world what God has given to us at this moment in history. That is the plan of God for our lives.

JF: Would you say that’s the overarching message that you hope people take from reading your book, Meanwhile?

Carol: Yeah, and I hope it gives them hope that no matter how their world is imploded that God is still working behind the scenes. One thing that it says time after time in the story of Joseph is, “And the Lord is with him, and the Lord was with Joseph, and the Lord was with him.” It says it in the pit, in the palace, in prison, and in Potipher’s house … “And the Lord is with Joseph.” That’s another truth I want readers to take away. That the Lord is with you. That your circumstances don’t deny the presence of the Lord in your life.

No matter what hard pain you are going through you can be assured that God will never leave you, He will never forsake you. Though you pass through the fire, He’ll be with you. That’s another word of hope that I want the readers to extract from the story.

JF: Why is that message so important in today’s society with everything that’s going on?

Carol: I think it’s because we are so easily fooled by our society when we see the world falling apart. And I guess it is, but it’s not because God has not relinquished His authority. He is still on the throne just like He was during the life of Joseph. It’s important for us to understand that we are the beneficiaries of His presence.

One thing I love about this … Joseph is in prison and he shouldn’t be there. He didn’t deserve to be in prison, but he was sent there unfairly. One particular morning, the cupbearer and the baker were also in prison with him. These were intimate members of the king’s staff who were spending time in prison. They woke up one morning and Joseph said to them, “Why are your faces sad?” Which is sort of laughable. Like is being in prison not enough reason to be sad? Apparently to Joseph it was not because that’s what he said to them that morning.

If you’ll go deep with me here for a minute, this is what we know. Joseph didn’t think prison was a reason for sadness. Number two, we know the Lord was with him. So, do you know what we know? We know that Joseph had joy because in His presence there is fullness of joy. That’s why it’s important for your readers to know that the Lord is with them no matter what is going on because in his presence there is fullness of joy. We can have joy at the worst moments of life. I’m not talking about happiness. Happiness is circumstantially driven, circumstantially bought, but joy comes from one place alone. It comes from the presence of Jesus. And He’ll never leave you or forsake you, so you can have joy no matter what’s going on.

JF: You delve deep into the life of Joseph in your book. What is it about his story that got you interested in writing a Bible study on his life and impact?

Carol: Joseph has always been my favorite Old Testament character. Other people love Daniel and David, and I do too, but there’s something about the life of Joseph that has always intrigued me. That has always set my heart in rapid motion. Here was this stellar young man. Let’s imagine this for a minute: what if his brothers had never sold him into slavery? He would’ve stayed home being daddy’s favorite little coddled boy, and likely nothing significant would’ve happened.

JF: And we wouldn’t be talking about him millenniums later.

Carol: Exactly. Thousands of years later. I just love that concept and I love the encouragement that comes with it.

Life is hard. Life this side of eternity is not easy. It’s abundant, but it’s not easy. Children die young, and cancer comes, and bankruptcy, and divorce, and the list goes on and on and on. But we have to cling to the principles in the book of Genesis that what the enemy meant for evil, God can use for good.

I know that one of my assignments in life is I’m a joy bringer. I’m an encourager. And you know what? I got nothing on my own. I can’t give you any wisdom that comes from Carol, but from the Word of God? Oh yes, my brother. Now, when we talk about the Bible, we can find some wisdom together. We can find some joy together. So, it’s my appointment at this time in history to bring joy to my generation and the way I do it is through scripture. I just felt like the life of Joseph was the life everybody could relate to. That’s why I chose Joseph for this Old Testament Bible study. Again, I hope that all the readers fall in love with this young man that God used at his moment in history.

Order your copy of Meanwhile: Meeting God in the Wait by Carol McLeod