Stone for a pillow

For the first 50 years or so of my life I never imagined being a minister. I always belonged to a church, and Jana made sure we attended most of the time. But when asked to serve, I usually said that I was too busy. In looking back, I probably disappointed more than a few pastors who might have hoped that that I would get more involved.

Now I tell people that if I can be a minister, you can too.

If God wants you to do something, God will eventually get God’s way.

Take Jacob, for example.

God had called Jacob’s grandfather, Abraham, to be the founder of a new nation. God chose Abraham’s son, Isaac, to carry on the legacy. Both of those men had powerful experiences of God’s call on their lives.

But when Jacob and his older twin, Esau, were born to Isaac, they didn’t have a great experience of God. If Jacob and his brother heard their father tell stories of God, the stories didn’t sink in. Just as bad, Isaac’s family was dysfunctional. He favored Esau while his wife favored Jacob.

Jacob grew up to be a conniving mess.

God’s plan to build a great nation seemed hopeless.

Genesis 28 picks up the story with Jacob on the run from his brother who wanted him dead. He must have left in such a hurry that he had no provisions, for when he stopped for the night, he had to use a stone for a pillow.

When all seemed lost for Jacob, that’s when God showed up in a big way. God gave him a vision of a stairway stretching all the way between heaven and earth. On the stairway were angels going up and down, spreading out across the earth. Above it all was God, looking down on Jacob and everything else.

God’s angels were everywhere.

God had been with Jacob all along.

Are you so low that you’re using a stone for a pillow?

Think God can’t use you?

God used a conniving mess named Jacob to transform the world.

Love isn’t all you need

It’s been just over 50 years since the Beatles released their hit song, “All You Need is Love.” Countless movies, shows, and songs share the same theme: there’s someone out there who’s “just right” for you. All you need to do is find that person, fall head-over-heels in love, and you’ll live happily ever after.

Writers and filmmakers understand the power that this idea has over us. We’ve all bought into the idea that there is someone out there who’s just right for me, and if I have him or her, my problems will be over, and I’ll have everything.

The movies work because we’ve bought into the myth.

This theme also runs through Genesis 29. Jacob was on the run from his brother in a foreign land. God’s whole plan to redeem the world through his chosen people seemed to be in jeopardy. Jacob throws himself on the mercy of his Uncle Laban, who has no way of paying him. But, Laban does have two daughters. The younger one, Rachel, is beautiful. The older one, Leah, no one wants.

Jacob agrees to work for Laban for seven years if Rachel can be his wife. It was an outrageous price for a bride. But Jacob was so infatuated with Rachel that he would have done anything to get what he wanted.

Underneath Jacob’s infatuation is the brokenness of all his relationships. His father didn’t love him; his brother looked down on him; and his mother had helped him deceive his father. Now he had no one. So, when he saw Rachel, the “woman of his dreams,” he figured all his problems were solved.

But beneath all this brokenness was a broken relationship with God.

There was no Hollywood ending to this story, but God was at work, and God redeemed the mess Jacob had made of his life.

If you are feeling unloved, remember. Jesus saw the beauty in you. Jesus chose you. He said, if I have her, if I have him, I’ll have everything.