Last week in our look at the life of Jacob (through the book "Escaping with Jacob" by David Ramos), Jacob fled from his home and family to avoid the anger caused by his own selfish actions. He found himself alone, in the wilderness, dreaming of a staircase to heaven and being blessed by God. But now he has to get on with his journey and discover where his new life will take him.
Week 7: Read Genesis 29:1-14 (The Journey of Progress)
"Jacob's arrival into the land of his uncle is a short refuge from the difficulty he escaped and the troubles he was about to face. The first people Jacob meets are a number of shepherds who are waiting to water their sheep. During the wait another shepherd arrives, but this one is different. Jacob sees Rachel, one of Laban's daughters, for the first time. It's unclear whether he had already fallen for her because his motives are focused elsewhere.
Jacob rattles off questions about his uncle to the shepherds and to Rachel. Even after his journey, he is still the same Jacob we saw before - one who is always on the lookout for how he can benefit from the situation at hand. Encouraged by the response he gets from the shepherds, Jacob takes action first by moving the stone (which would have likely required a number of men and was why the shepherds were waiting in the first place) and second, by watering all of his uncle's sheep. The scene ends with Jacob meeting Laban and earning his approval. Quietly, he stays under his uncle's care for a month and the reader is left wondering what Jacob's next move will be.
Even in this short segment of Jacob's story we start to see a change in him. Up until now, Jacob has never shown his strength. Readers could assume Esau was strong because of his skills as a hunter, but Jacob never had any reason to use his talents until now - when he moved the stone away for the benefit of others. On top of that, Jacob is acting out of obedience to both of his parents by staying with Laban. On the one hand, he is biding his time until his brother calms down. On the other hand, he is not looking to rush back home either. For the first time we are seeing glimpses of the patriarch Jacob was destined to become. It's a rough picture with countless challenges ahead, but there is hope. In the eye of the storm of Jacob's trials, his character is starting to take form.
The same can often be said for us. Too often we measure our progress in all or nothing terms. We are either saints or failures. But that's not how it works. And that is not how God sees us. Jacob was a work in progress, Selfish, yet serving. Greedy, yet gracious. We are a mix, too, of both mature and immature natures. Take compassion on yourself, because you are absolutely a work of God. The only way we fail is if we quit the journey."
Takeaway from today's lesson: God loves using works in progress.
Prayer: God, thank you that you are patient and willing to grow me. Amen.