Working in the modern air- conditioned world, I often wear a sweater to keep me warm. But not just any sweater. I have a closet full of sweaters, and they all have one thing in common. They each have many colors. Some have intricately interwoven patterns, and some have pure rays of color woven side by side. The more colors the better.
Like Joseph in the Bible's Old Testament, I consider these sweaters to be my "coat of many colors" bestowed upon me as a gift from my Father, God, representing His unfailing care and love for me. They remind me that my purpose is to fulfill God's infinite purpose, and there is no competition for that singular, yet universally collective, purpose.
The sweaters remind me that I work for God and not just the organization to which I am contributing at the moment. Just as in the sweater, it takes all the "colors" or people in an organization working together to accomplish a single great purpose.
Each color and type of stitch contributes to the beauty and harmony of the garment. Each individual stitch is linked to the surrounding stitches to create the integrity of the piece. Supported by the surrounding stitches, each stitch cannot fail to do its job; it takes all the stitches linked together to fulfill the purpose completely.
An individual stitch alone doesn't get the job done, but each individual stitch fills a niche that no other stitch can for the place it holds. And each stitch aggregated creates something wonderful that provides beauty and warmth over an expansive area.
Throughout my career I have reflected many times on Joseph's story. His elderly father had rewarded Joseph's individual faith, love, and obedience to God with this beautiful, rare gift.
But His coat invoked such jealousy from his brothers that they threw him in a pit. I've wondered if they were trying to control their father's love and enhance their own chances of success. Alone and betrayed, Joseph must have recognized and leaned on his only Father, God. He must have known God would care for him no matter where he was and that his ongoing faith and obedience would support his continuing life.
Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of this newspaper, wrote in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures": "Would existence without personal friends be to you blank? Then the time will come when you will be solitary, left without sympathy; but this seeming vacuum is already filled with divine Love. When this hour of development comes, even if you cling to a sense of personal joys, spiritual Love will force you to accept what best promotes your growth. Friends will betray and enemies will slander, until the lesson is sufficient to exalt you; for 'man's extremity is God's opportunity'" (pg. 266).
Joseph certainly found himself in the pit more than once in his life, but each occasion he met this unique time with gratitude and a focus on his obedience to God. He must have known that no matter where he was, God was there, too. Joseph's success in his determination to serve God is proven by a lifetime of ever increasing growth, gratitude, responsibility, and wealth.
And Joseph had one special quality that from beginning to end ensured his success: his ability to forgive. Without forgiveness of those individuals who had tried to keep him from his purpose, he never would have saved a nation.
So the next time you see a colorful sweater, think about how precious your purpose is and how loved by God you are. Appreciate the stitches around you, and feel gratitude for the individual contribution you are making to the "one grand fabric," the manifestation of God's purpose, our purpose, your purpose.
Fulfill ye my joy, that ye be like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.