Sunday, August 07, 2022

Sunday Afternoon Tea - Creating our own places of Goshen

If you were to tell someone who knows little about the Bible that there is a story about a very dysfunctional family where one of the teenage sons shows off a special gift from his father to his half-brothers and then tells them about a dream that they will someday bow to him, then they throw him in a pit but decide instead to make a profit and sell him into slavery... the person would probably doubt that it is the Bible.

However, if you go ahead with the story and tell them the story of the teenager who becomes a young man put in charge of the household but is set up with a false accusation of rape, gets sent to a prison, and stays there until the Pharaoh has a dream and someone remembers this young man can tell what dreams mean, so he goes to see Pharaoh, tells him what the dream means, and is made second in command of the foreign country... no one would believe that.

But wait, it gets better!  Eventually his brothers who sold him into slavery make their way to that country because of a famine in the land and long story short, find out the person in charge of the food supply is the brother they sold into slavery (we are doomed, I am sure they thought), the person to whom we are telling the story would probably get up and leave at that time. 

But it has a very unlikely happy ending and the young man forgives his not-so-kind brothers and brings his entire family, including his beloved father and brother, to the foreign land where the Pharaoh allows him to give the family prime real estate to settle in.  What an unlikely, strange, upside down story... but it is true.

I have learned so many lessons from the story of Joseph through the years, stories of forgiveness, provision, God's forming Joseph into a man of great character and incredible leadership skills, etc.  But this week, God showed me something else that is part of this story, something I hadn't thought about until now.

I was thinking how crazy the world is, how dark it is getting, and how necessary it is to have places of light (God's light) around me to prevent the darkness from creeping into my everyday living experiences.  When I was pondering this, I heard that Still Small Voice tell me that I needed to create Goshen.

To be honest, I had to look it up because while I knew it had to do with where the children of Israel settled in Egypt, I hadn't thought much more about it.  But as I did, I realized that in the midst of a pagan country, God's people were given a great gift.  Not only a place to settle and grow crops but a place where for most of their 400 years they stayed there, it was a place of protection for them... a kind of grace.

It also tells of the Pharaoh's fondness for Joseph because Goshen was near enough to where Joseph and his family lived that he could see his father and family often, while keeping the "foreigners" away from the ability to influence the Egyptians (and visa versa from God's perspective).

Of course, if you know the whole story, after 400 years God sent Moses to lead them out of Egypt.  By that time, there was a change in the leadership of the country that made things very hard for them and as we would later find out... by that time they also had a lot of the ways of Egypt in them that God took 40 years and the death of a generation to remove.

But what God was showing me in my pondering this week was not what would happen hundreds of years from when the family went to Egypt but what it was like when they arrived and how that relates to what I was pondering last week.  

We are not in the Promised Land, yet.  But we are also no longer in a land that we recognized and loved for our entire life.  We have been exiled against our will, living in a world that looks more pagan than I ever expected to see in my lifetime.  Not in my wildest imagination.  To make it even worse, the changes seemed to happen overnight, although I know the enemy of our souls has been setting all this up for millennia.

God reminded me that just as that family and everyone who came with them had been given the gift of Goshen, He gives each of us the ability to create our own place of refuge, too. Goshen may be an actual place or something we enjoy doing.

I think it will look different for each of us in many ways.  For some of us, we will keep tweaking our homes to make them places of peace and beauty. I am often thinking of ways to make our home more peaceful in the way it looks.  Even placing all the deck flowers where I can see them out the kitchen window. They bring the greatest joy when doing dishes.

For some of us, we will make a corner of a room a peaceful place with favorite artwork, books, and a good pair of ear phones so we can listen to music or audio books.  Part of my place of peace definitely includes a DVD collection of favorite movies that make me feel all warm and cozy.

Most of us will have a place for our Bible and notebook and if you are like me, you have a couple Audible Bibles and a Bible app.  I have no excuse for not hearing the Word each day.

When I thought of individual  places of Goshen, I thought of Leota's Garden by Francine Rivers.  The garden was the place of healing and grace for Leota, whose life had been very difficult.  Many gardeners find their peace while planting and pruning, weeding and harvesting.

For some people, it is not a place but a feeling that comes when they create paintings or make music.  For me, there have been times when I lost myself in the process of chopping vegetables, making soup, or bringing all the ingredients together to make a cake or cookies.

I have known people who feel closest to God when hiking in a forest or feeding their horses.  I have known many farmers who feel their most peaceful when looking at a healthy crop in the fields.  Sometimes we truly do find a place of Goshen in nature if that is the way God made us.

Definitely I see that while Goshen will usually be a place where we find peace and meet with God, it can also be when we lose ourselves and cast away our worries by emerging ourselves in a creative process.  Which makes sense for we are created in the image of a Creative God.

I know for many women of prior generations, their kitchen was a place of Goshen.  It was their domain, their place to create and to talk to God.  The kitchen was not a place to come home to after eight or nine hours of "real work", to quickly throw together some food or put take out on plates.  It was a place of respite.

I am convinced that if we ask God what can be our Goshen, if we are not aware of what it is already, He will tell us.  In the months and the years ahead, we will all benefit from having such a place in our lives so that we can be refreshed and grow in Christ.  Perhaps then, we can be a refuge to others who do not know Him.

Mentioned in this Blog Post

Leota's Garden by Francine Rivers... here.

Disclaimer: Most links to are Associate links.

Image: Grandma's Garden by Robert Duncan


NanaC said...

Interesting concept! I never thought of Goshen as a good place, remembering more of the story when the Israelites were forced into slavery and had to make bricks with straw and mud. I hadn’t thought about it being a place of peace and refuge when the brothers first brought their families and their father to Egypt. I guess my back deck and backyard have become my “Goshen”, especially this year, with my husbands medical complications since his back surgery in March. My favorite place to read my morning devotions is on the back deck. We also enjoy sitting on the deck to read after dinner, watching the sun setting behind the trees. And when I can, I enjoy sitting in the lawn swing by the trees in our backyard in the afternoons. I have several wind chimes hanging from the eves of the house and a tree in back, so they add to the ambiance whenever there is a breeze. I’m learning to be thankful for the little things every day and nature is full of them! We had a Robin make a nest in the lilac tree by the front door this spring, so I got to keep track of the eggs hatching and the hatchlings growing! And there are the squirrels and wild bunnies that frolic in the back yard, as well as the birds that visit the bird feeders. Our own backyard has become a refuge especially after weeks of running from one appointment to another the past several months. I am realizing more and more that I have much to be thankful for!
Thank-you for sharing your insights!
Laura C.

JulieT from Minnesota said...

Thank you for this post. God knew it was exactly what I needed. I have several Goshen’s, I just need to continue to cultivate and grow them so to speak. You are a voice to reason and calmness to many!

Deanna Rabe said...


I love this post. I've long said that we can make our lives what we want them to be. Create beauty, make a haven for our families and friends...

We certainly need it!

Merri Mc Elderry said...

THIS IS JUST TOTALLY BEAUTIFUL and GLORIOUS ..a GOSHEN OF OUR OWN.. wow. YES, spirit forms us anew each day in the already perfection of God. Genesis 1.31. And God saw everything he had done, and it was good." Reflection each day of this Truth of our very being rooted in God's holy thought of us, his beloved children..bring us to GOSHEN... praising God for his wonderful works with you.. flowers, chopping veggies , music. dance.. and all that He gives us freely to experience heaven on earth NOW! thank you for your in depth, heartfelt and amazing insights. Love, Merri

Ann said...

I have a corner in my small guest bedroom where I have my own smaller recliner, a good light and my Bibles, notebooks, pens and markers ... and my Kindle for lighter reading. It is definitely a place of quiet and peace for me away from the noise of the TV and whatever else is going on. When I walk into that space it is my "down time" if in the midst of a busy day or if I'm just feeling tired; it is a place of prayer and meditation each morning; and a quiet place to nap when my body tells me to do so. It is a necessity of my life and I am blessed to have that space.

Anonymous said...

Brenda...So well-written as always. My Goshen is my back patio during early morning and sunset hours. There is a nice view, one that I never dreamed I could have, without God leading me to this particular house.

However, your post reminded me of childhood times, as my family was making the Summer trek to visit relatives. We would stop at country gas stations, seemingly in the middle of nowhere. While the tank was being filled with gas, and my family was taking a restroom break, I would walk to the wood fence, and look out at the open country land. There was total quiet, with only the buzzing of an occasional bee. For some reason, in my child's mind, I felt very close to everything, including God. I can still conjure up that feeling. It is a Goshen place for me during these dark times. Linda