For the past few weeks I have been discussing how God uses rejection as a vehicle to help us find and fulfill our destinies. From biblical times to the 21st century, the list is endless of individuals who, through rejection fulfilled their dreams, achieved unprecedented success and made history. Take for instance Mary McLeod Bethune. After graduating from the Moody Bible Institute, her desire was to be a missionary in Africa. However, she was informed that African Americans were disallowed from holding such positions.
Consequently, Bethune became an educator. She was an instructor for a few years and in October of 1904, after seeing a need for the education of African American girls she established the Daytona Literary and Industrial School for Training Negro Girls. In 1923, this school later merged with Cookman Institute of Jacksonville, Florida; a school for boys. Today the merged school is known as the Bethune-Cookman University. Who would have thought that being denied the opportunity to be a missionary in Africa would have redirected Bethune to be a school pioneer and college president in 1942, where she was the trustee until she passed in 1955?
Bethune went on to achieve a litany of other noteworthy and groundbreaking accomplishments; one of which was being appointed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1945, as special adviser of minority affairs and director of African American affairs in the National Youth Administration.
William Kamkwamba is another prime example of someone who was projected to success through rejection. Born in Malawi, at fourteen years old a famine struck his homeland, and caused widespread death and devastation, so much so that his father could no longer afford to pay his school tuition. Consequently he had to drop out. In essence, his inability to pay his school fees forced him to be a school reject.
Notwithstanding, Kamkwamba refused to let this setback impede his education. He began to visit a local library where he found a worn-out British Science book. Barely able to speak English, he used this book to teach himself elementary physics mainly by studying diagrams and photos. Another book, the cover of which he saw the picture of a windmill, inspired him to build himself a windmill. Despite the daunting task of building a windmill, and being ridiculed and called crazy by his people, Kamkwamba was determined to fulfill his dream.
He searched scrap yards and found junk like old tractor fans, shock absorbers, plastic pipe, and bicycle parts. These parts became the components of the machine he needed to generate electricity and water his father’s farm. These parts were rejects; scrap tossed away by others. He embraced other people’s trash as his treasure. He worked on his improvisations, and with his first machine generated 12 volts of electricity that powered 4 lights. Another machine he built irrigated a family farm.
This genius, once ridiculed by some in Malawi became revered by others around the world. His exploits caused the world to take notice and have him travel around to share his remarkable story, which is chronicled in the book he co-wrote with Bryan Mealer, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind.
The remarkable story of Joseph in the Bible puts a stamp on how rejection is a catalyst for success. It was very significant that he was stripped twice prior to assuming his leadership role in Egypt. The way an individual was dressed, especially in the Old Testament was very telling. How a person was dressed signified the individual’s calling. Priests dressed a certain way to show that they were priests. Kings dressed a certain way to show that they were kings. Prophets dressed a certain way to show that they were prophets.
When we are not properly “dressed,” God uses rejection to undress us from who we are not in order to dress us into who we are. Is it any wonder that Joseph’s brothers stripped him of the special coat his father made for him (Genesis 37:23)? In a sense the coat signified that he was the apple of his father’s eye. Even so, that was not his calling in his heavenly father’s eye. Hence the necessity for him to go through the rejection from his brothers, which stripped him of the attire. Their rejection further facilitated his movement to the environment where he was to fulfill his call.
Joseph ends up in Potiphar’s house, and in an attempt to resist Potiphar’s wife’s seduction, he absolves himself of his garment, which represents his call to serve Potiphar (Genesis 39:12). Again, that was not God’s calling on his life. He eventually ended up in the position God ordained for him. And this was signified by Pharaoh dressing him up with robes of linen; the attire for the ruler of Egypt, second to Pharaoh (Genesis 41:42). In essence, God uses rejection to strip you off from who you aren’t, in order to strap you on with who you are.
Mary McLeod Bethune. http://www.notablebiographies.com/Be-Br/Bethune-Mary-Mcleod.html (accessed August 29, 2010).
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind. http://bryanmealer.com (accessed August 29, 2010).