The Lord was with Jacob as he fled north to escape the wrath of his twin brother, Esau, whom he had tricked out of the family blessing. Along the way on his journey, the Lord appeared to Jacob in a dream:
11 And he (Jacob) came to a certain place and stayed there that night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place to sleep. 12 And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! 13 And behold, the Lord stood above it and said, “I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring. 14 Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed. 15 Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” 16 Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” 17 And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” Genesis 28:11-17 ESV
This was the first of three times that the Lord would appear to Jacob in his life. Each time, Jacob responded in a more mature, faith-filled way. His initial response to God’s appearing was not necessarily evident in his behavior, but the hard knocks of life would have a tenderizing effect on both Jacob and his resulting faith.
Our experiences in interacting with God may not be as dramatic or direct as Jacob’s (though some may), but they can be just as impactful on our lives and our manner of living. The way we respond to God’s calling may not be as complete as we later would have liked, but any positive response is progress and an improvement. It must please the Lord whenever we seek to change direction and begin to follow Him and his ways.
As the Lord spoke to Jacob, he speaks to you and me today:
15 Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go. Genesis 28:15 ESV
As I write this, I am heart-broken because of the loss of our beloved pet. My head knows that it was God’s appointed time for her to depart, but my heart is struggling and pained by the loss. She was a tremendous gift of God to our family, and such a blessing to so many who knew her and loved her so deeply. Yes, it is time to let her go. And blessed be God Most High, who gives us such wonderful gifts, and comforts us when the sword of loss pierces our hearts.
The Lord promises that He is and will be with us and will keep us safe wherever we go. To Africa or Asia as He leads? Yes. To a job site, or working from home, to the unemployment office, to the hospital, or even to the jail? Yes. Down a road of loss, grief and pain? Yes. He will keep us in all situations.
God has promised that he will never leave us nor forsake us, even though at times we have not lived up to His holy standards. In fact, no one besides Jesus has ever been able to walk without sin (Romans 3:23). When we do find ourselves in a position of sin or failure, God asks that we turn to back to Him, admit and confess our sin, and turn away from it as best we can, even in our imperfection. If possible, He would like us to try to make amends to those around us if we have hurt them through our sin. Thus, we and they are both restored in the Lord to a fresh life in Him, surrounded by his deepest love and care. Through his grace we return to Him, seeking to obey and to be a blessing to those around us through the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit living within us.
God promised to Jacob that, through him and his offspring, all the nations of the earth would be blessed (Genesis 28:14)
The whole world is being freely offered the love and salvation of Jesus Christ, who came from God through the lineage of Jacob. This is a special calling to Jacob, who dreamed of God, a ladder and a host of angels ascending and descending upon it. And this is a special calling to you. God has a plan for your life. You are a unique creation of God – no one else on earth is like you or is able to do what God has prepared to do. Your personality, unique experiences and divine shaping give you a special ability and a credibility to share a message of hope with others in a way that no other person can. God has a specific purpose and plan for your life. It may be as simple as being there and being yourself, reflecting the grace and love of God for someone at a critical moment. As you remain connected to Jesus Christ, you, too, shall be a blessing to the people of the earth.
Have you ever had a dream that you believe was from God? Describe it. How did it impact you?
Many difficult situations in life bring us to a place of desperation and powerlessness. We may have tried everything in our own power to change some situation, but change has proven to be beyond anything humanly possible. This is the turning point, when we are utterly reliant upon the merciful hand of God to help us get through and to overcome our challenge.
What situation in your life today can only be resolved through the power of God? May the Lord grant you every blessing and answer what your heart yearns for. It is sometimes helpful to journal through situations like this. Later, when the storm has passed, we can go back and review our writings to see more clearly how the Lord has answered our prayers. It is also powerful to ask other believers to pray with you.
How have the rough spots in your life impacted your view of God and of His love for you? We sometimes feel that God had abandoned us during the tough times, but looking back, we can see that He was right there the whole time, holding us close to Him as we went through times of grief or pain. As Jacob said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” Is there a time or event in your life where you had thought God had abandoned you? Looking back in faith, can you see that He was there, and you did not know it?