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Archive for December, 2011

Sleeping on a Rock

Gen 28:11-17  When he (Jacob) reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep.

He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.

There above it stood the LORD, and he said: “I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying.

Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring.

I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”

When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it.”

He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.”

There was Jacob, enduring a night of exhausted sleep, nothing to call his own but the rock he had slept on. Only hours before he had envisioned himself the heir to all of his father’s possessions, that he would have the blessing of God on himself and his children for all generations. And now here he lay, fleeing from the brother who he was sure sought to murder him; banished by his own misdoings, his deception, his sin.

As I read this, I felt for my brother Jacob. I remember the aloneness I have felt when I have come face to face with my failings, the separation I have imagined between myself and God; no one to blame but myself, and nothing to look forward to except the memories of what might have been if only I had, or only I had not….

And then God shows up, shows up not to bring attention to my failings, but to His promises, His promises that,

 “I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go…”

I may find myself in the wilderness because of the consequences of my own actions, or I may be in “the valley of the shadow” because God’s loving and sovereign hand has allowed it, in either situation the truth remains:

“Surely the LORD is in this place..”

Heb 13:5,6 …be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”

The Lord is my helper, the Lord watches over me, the Lord is in this place, THIS place.

What was Joseph’s place? Guilt, regret, fear? The Lord was in that place, bringing hope and focus towards the promises of what He could do and would do for Joseph. Not because of anything that Joseph could or would do, but because He had promised He would. Joseph would indeed bear the consequences of his actions, (he never saw is mother or father again; he lived years in exile and suffered the experienced of being deceived by someone he should have been able to trust, just as he had done to his own father), but good came to Joseph, the good that God had promised came to him and has come to us, 

“All peoples on earth will be blessed through you…”

Who is this God we walk with? This God who comes in the midst of our wilderness and our heartbreak and promises to us blessing, purpose and a future?

Do we labor under the delusion that we must do something, or undo something, in order to know the blessing and presence of God.

Do we believe that God only appears when our live are ordered and clean, when we have walked in the integrity that He has clearly revealed He wills for us to walk in as His children? Yes, we must repent, we must change the way we act and the way we think that leads us to those actions; but He reveals the only path towards that repentance in Romans 2:4.

“…do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?”

God’s kindness and His patience are to be marveled at, He is to be loved and followed because of them, because of who His is, because of the good He has promised us in the exchange of His Son’s goodness for our failings. He is to be worshipped.  

So let’s get up off of the rock we have been sleeping on, for He is in this place.  

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