In our study together Sunday on Genesis 28, we examined the moment Jacob left his home and what that meant for his spiritual life. Of course, when any of us head off on our own, it’s a momentous occasion with many implications — but among several cool things Pastor Scott shared is that we don’t have to be just entering independent adulthood for the biblical truths we learned to apply to us.
That’s because whether we’re moving into our own place for the first time or going away to college — or whether we’re moving toward marriage, moving into a new job, or moving into a new home — God brings change and challenges to us every morning. And the Lord’s newness is another opportunity to trust him.
We’ve already seen that Jacob isn’t exactly the league leader in integrity or honesty. His deception with Isaac pretending to be his brother Esau to underhandedly win his father’s blessing was awful. Now Esau wants to kill Jacob, and Jacob is forced to leave home. But the miracle of Scripture is that we all can see ourselves to some degree in Jacob’s sin. Maybe we haven’t carried out that sort of deception, but as Jeremiah 17:9 reminds us, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick; who can understand it?”
So, it’s a good thing that, as Pastor Scott said, the hearts of believers in Jesus have two things going for them: A conscience and the Holy Spirit.
And we got a chance to see Jacob’s heart awakening to the Lord as he set out on his own. Much had to be on his mind and heart. Perhaps homesickness. Maybe fear. Uncertainty about the future. And then one night as he falls asleep, God spoke to Jacob in a dream and reassured him that he’d walk with him through his life, multiply his offspring over the face of the earth, and bless him.
Then God said something quite stirring in verse 15 which may sound familiar: “For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Yes, Jesus promised his disciples after his resurrection that “I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Not surprisingly, Jacob was changed. “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it,” he said before being filled with awe: “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” He then stakes out a place for the Lord and makes a promise — all expressions of God now having first place in his life. What a transformation!
No matter where we are in life — just starting out on our own or deep into the journey — we need that kind of newness, that kind of transformative experience with the Lord, don’t we? But a lot of times what we’re missing is being deliberate about what place God holds in our lives. Pastor Scott called this a “faith of convenience” — and wow, how true that can be. And actively putting God first through our daily decisions and thoughts isn’t about paying lip service to him or appearing righteous — it’s actually about what’s good for us. Isn’t that amazing? Following the Lord and obeying his commandments can seem on the surface like living in a cage, but it actually sets us free and sets us on the very best path. God isn’t looking for human beings to ask, “How high?” when he says “Jump!” No, instead God wants a relationship with us and wants the very best for us.
So, where does that leave us? In truth, we all have to figure out how we will handle what God has entrusted to us. Have we staked out areas in our lives that belong to the Lord? That demonstrate he’s more important than anything else? If not, let us pray about what that will look like and get to it!