Estimated reading time: 3 minute(s)
Well, it’s that time of year again… January. And that means, that I am starting the One Year Bible again! 🙂 I tried last year and got through April, and then… well… got too far behind. SO, I am giving it a go again and reading all the crazy stories in Genesis again. One of those the other day hit me…
You may know the story of Jacob and Esau. Jacob (later known as "Israel") was the trickster, fooling his older and not-so-sharp brother out of his birthright and his father’s blessings – two incredibly important things in those days. Esau was the tough-guy, jock of the family, though, so Jacob left town and went to live with his Uncle and cousins. (He ended up marrying BOTH of his cousins… that’s a little different than we would do it today, too…) 🙂
Well, God tells Jacob to go back home. This is many years, even decades later. Jacob has amassed quite a wealth of everything you can imagine, including a very large family. God has blessed him. Over, and over, and over again. So, Jacob obeys and heads for his homeland.
On the way he wonders what Esau will do, and then he finds out Esau and 400 of his men are on their way to meet him!!! That sends quite a shock through him. That night he prays a sentence that stood out to me… "O Lord, you told me to return to my land and to my relatives, and you promised to treat me kindly." (emphasis mine)
Those are words a little child might say when they feel they are being – or even might be – mistreated. Jacob is pretty sure that things don’t look like God is going to keep his promise. And that bothers him. In his prayer, he doesn’t really show any kind of confidence in God… almost just whining….
Then he proceeds to put together elaborate gifts of EVERYTHING he owns, sending those ahead of the main caravan of people and stuff. As Esau is met by each group of gifts, he is a bit perplexed. But Jacob keeps sending them…. hoping to somehow assuage his anger. (When Jacob left, Esau was letting everyone around him know that he would soon murder his brother…)
You know what happened? For all his effort? For all the huge, elaborate attempts to win his brother’s favor? You know where that got him?
God had already done it! Esau was not swayed by any of the presents showered upon him. It wasn’t for any of Jacob’s efforts… but rather, God had made it happen, just as He had promised him.
Don’t we do that? Don’t we try with all our might to take care of ourselves? When all we have to do is trust God? Jacob even said it in his prayer, but I don’t think he really meant it. He said, "you promised to treat me kindly". Apparently he had heard from God that not only should he return, but that all would be well… but instead of confidently going forward in what God had told him, Jacob wasted lots of energy trying to earn his own way.
All this just makes me wonder… where am I wasting energy? Where am I not really believing God? How can I rest more in Him and wait to see what He has promised me come true? How about you? Where are you being like Jacob and trying to clean up your own messes? Trying to make your own way?
Next time you are following God’s lead… don’t be like Jacob (or even Peter when he was walking on the water) and try to take matters into your own hands. Believe God. For real. That he will really do for you what He promised you.
Life is better when we do.