Last week in our look at the life of Jacob (through the book "Escaping with Jacob" by David Ramos), we looked at how Jacob's choices have led him into a "messy life." He is estranged from his parents and brothers, living in a foreign land, taken advantage of by a scheming uncle, and now he has a family of his own that is in conflict. But we discovered that just as we live messy lives, God does not turn away from us; instead. God comes to be with us, offering us "messy grace,"
Week 10: Read Genesis 30:25-43 (Solving Our Own Problems)
"A turning point in the story occurs when Rachel prepares to give birth. Jacob is now ready to leave Laban's care. He has worked long and hard for his uncle and wants to start building his own legacy to pass on. Laban has prospered tremendously because of Jacob. So instead of sending his son-in-law off to start his own life, Laban haggles with him to stay.
Technically, the many years of Jacob's service for his uncle were only for his two wives. If he left now he would take nothing with him but his family and the clothes on their backs. Laban offers a payment to Jacob for his work, but it is only a charade. Laban cannot afford to lose Jacob, and Jacob will not leave empty handed - so, the young patriarch comes up with a plan. Jacob will stay and tend Laban's flocks so long as he receives all the colored and spotted ones as payment. Usually such animals are rare, so of course Laban agrees to the deal. What the uncle doesn't know is that Jacob has found a way to manipulate (selectively breed) the flocks.
Slowly and quietly, Jacob grows into a very rich man through his trick with the animals. Now when he leaves Laban, he will be able to provide for his family. However, many eyes were watching his miraculous prosperity and Jacob's second escape might come sooner than he planned. As Jacob takes the reins and manipulates his way out of the control of his deceptive uncle Laban, it is interesting that again God is not mentioned.
God is with Jacob, but God is a God of justice. Time and time again we see these two truths exemplified in Jacob's story. But then we also see Jacob fending for himself, seemingly by himself. These periods of Jacob's life in which God seems absent are a reminder that God sometimes steps back and gives us room to succeed or fail. God equipped Jacob with an incredibly creative mind. When Jacob found himself in a difficult situation, he used his creativity to solve the problem (at first negatively, now more positively).
In the same way, God has not made us helpless. God wants the best for us and is working to achieve that good. But God also wants to see us try, risk, and use our talents to solve the problems life has placed before us." So long, I might add, as in the end, our trust and faith remain in God.
Takeaway from today's lesson: Taking action and trusting God are not contradictory.
Prayer: God, thank you that you are with me and that you have equipped me to change my circumstances through my actions. May my actions always be pleasing to you, and may they be to your glory. Amen.