Read His Words Before Ours!
The air was thick with silence.
When we did speak, it dripped with sarcasm and Rachel’s snobbery.
Her disapproval of my sons was evident.
I, Leah the unlovely, often reminded her that she had no children; she needn’t concern her with mine!
Following the birth of my daughter, Dinah, Rachel was ill, keeping to her rooms. Soon she emerged, radiant and pregnant! Jacob was thrilled! He was tender and attentive, bringing her whatever she craved. She basked in his attention.
I was galled; through seven pregnancies he’d never waited on me.
When her labor began I went to be with her; it was only right. I knew childbirth; I could help her.
As little Joseph grew, it became increasingly obvious that Jacob viewed him differently. Joseph was in a class by himself. My sons ranked lower. A growing sense of foreboding rose within me. Did Jacob consider Joseph his firstborn son? Would Rachel’s son usurp the position that was clearly Reuben’s.
My fears were confirmed the day Joseph’s tutors arrived.
Tutors were never offered for my sons.
Rachel gloated, coddling Joseph. Everything he did we precious; it was nauseating. She wouldn’t allow him to associate with my sons; they were too wild. I was heart-sick. I was used to being invisible, but treating my children with disdain was another matter entirely. I made little attempt to hide the anger simmering beneath the surface.
After much secrecy and maneuvering, the day came when we left Paddan Aram. Jacob desired to strike out, away from Papa Laban. Yahweh wanted him to reconcile with Esau, the estranged brother. My Papa pursued us. With Yahweh’s protection, what could have been a bloodbath was reduced to another tense showdown between Papa and Jacob.
We neared Gilead, messengers were dispatched to Esau with news or our arrival and Jacob’s desire to reconcile. The messengers thundered into camp. Esau was headed our way – with four hundred men! Stunned, Jacob sprang into action. He separated us into two groups to minimize casualties. The men prepared to fight; weapons sharpened. Escape routes were planned and reviewed. Droves of livestock were sent ahead as gifts. We prepared for the worst, Jacob sought Yahweh’s deliverance. His voice trembled as he prayed; I’d never seen him like this. Under the cover of darkness, we were moved across the Jabbok River for added protection. After we were settled, I watched Jacob walk out into the night alone.
He was deeply shaken. Jacob seemed to be resting solely upon Yahweh to deliver us. I lay awake all night, slipping out to find Jacob at first light. Silhouetted against the rising sun, he walked up from Peniel. I ran to him. His face was haggard, but a deep, gentle quietness surrounded him. He walked with a distinct limp, I met his eyes in a wordless question. As he met my gaze, I saw the same gentle quietness resting there. It was Yahweh; Jacob had met with Yahweh. As we stood in silence something deep passed between us. Tears sprang to my eyes; I let him see them. I knew he’d been with Yahweh, and he knew I saw it. He also knew I recognized Yahweh in his eyes. A sheepish smile tugged at his lips; we walked together in silence back to camp.
Daybreak revealed a cloud of dust on the horizon. Esau was coming. Once again, Jacob sprang into action with Yahweh’s gentle strength surrounding him. The entire family gathered, final instructions were given. We took our places and waited. Jacob strode into the gap between the us and the on-coming riders. The horde of riders barreled toward us, slowed and halted. An enormous man dismounted, running toward Jacob. Jacob bowed to the ground. Esau kept running. Jacob bowed repeatedly. I had no desire to see Jacob murdered, but I couldn’t look away. Esau neared Jacob, lifting him off the ground, crushing him to his massive frame. Jacob’s limbs dangled; Esau held him fast. Was he crushing Jacob or embracing him? Esau released him, firmly backslapping him as they walked toward us. We are each presented in turn. I sensed that Esau was accustomed to bloodshed; comfortable with the kill. Two razor-sharp weapons were slung across his back. His enormous hands could easily crush a small animal. Conversation was guarded. Jacob was calmly courageous; the deep quietness of Yahweh was upon him like a cloud. I wasn’t sure we wouldn’t be murdered in our sleep, but Yahweh guided Jacob; it gave me peace. To my relief, they rode out at dawn, but the awe-inspiring presence of Yahweh had changed more than Jacob, He was at work changing me!
Time passed and Rachel was pregnant again. We were en-route to Ephrath, moving slowly as travel was difficult for her. I hoped to arrive and settle Rachel well before the baby came. We were two days from Ephrath when the midwife sent for me; Rachel’s labor had begun. The caravan halted. As before, her labor was difficult; I braced for a long day. By mid-afternoon, she was exhausted, ghostly pale and violently trembling. I sent for Jacob. I told her he was coming and she rallied, pushed, and delivered her son. The midwife held him against her. Jacob arrived, stumbling toward her. Her eyes were fading; Rachel was dying! She whispered, “Ben-Oni”, and was gone. Jacob screamed wildly in disbelief. Clutching her lifeless body to his chest, he sobbed inconsolably.
I had known Rachel only as my rival; the wasted years haunted me. Though sadness had been my lifelong companion, the gentle quietness of Yahweh beckoned – the same quietness resting in Jacob’s eyes. I had known His peace before. Without Yahweh’s help, I would shrivel into a sad, old woman. Years ago, Yahweh’s tender love sustained me.
Did He still embrace castoffs?
The deep quietness of Yahweh beckoned, how could I not rise and follow the One who loved me enough to pursue me in spite of myself?
Circumstances can easily derail our hope, peace, or joy. Allowing the rollercoaster of circumstances to trump our firm grasp of truth, plunges us into quicksand. In this quicksand our emotions or circumstances, solid truth sounds like “pie in the sky”, and God seems distant. Explore these Scriptures, taking note of both the author’s circumstances and the source of his stability and peace.
Habakkuk 3:17-19 Philippians 4:10-13 Psalm 56:3-4 2 Corinthians 4:7-18 2 Corinthians 1:8-11
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!