Day One: Jacob at Bethel
As we look at the life of Jacob, I suggest that his first major fork in the road occurred when Esau threatened to kill him, and he ran from Esau. Jacob chose to leave his home, family, comfort, and everything he knew to go to a place he had never been. This could be a bit like the decisions we face when we are finishing high school and trying to figure out where to go and what to do next; however, for Jacob, he had to meet new people and carve out his own life without the safety net of being able to return home if catastrophe struck.
In my own life, this season of becoming an adult had lots of forks in the road. I had decided to go to college at Oral Roberts University when I was in high school and I remember the pressure I felt when trying to decide what I would choose as my major. I’ll never forget telling one of my friends, “It is ludicrous to think an eighteen-year-old will be able to make a decision about what major to select that will guide the rest of her life!” I could barely think about my next assignment due in college, let alone make a decision for a possible career I would have to live with for the rest of my life.
Leading up to Jacob’s fork in the road, he had just lied to his dad by pretending to be Esau, his brother. Because of this deception, Isaac thought he was blessing Esau. In reality, though, he was blessing Jacob, the younger of these twin sons. When Esau learned that Jacob had stolen the blessing from their dad by his deception, he was enraged and threatened to kill Jacob. In response, Rebekah suggested that Jacob move far away to her brother’s household. On his journey to his uncle’s house, he had a very supernatural dream in a place called Bethel where God met him and gave him some very specific promises. I have no doubt that at this fork in the road, Jacob was very comforted by this supernatural experience and these promises, particularly since he had no idea what was in his immediate future.
In this conversation with God, it is interesting to consider what Jacob replied: “Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, ‘Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it’” (Genesis 28:16). While there is not a lot of dialogue in this conversation between God and Jacob, a very important truth is established for Jacob in this experience. He learned that God is with him whether he realized it or not. And this important truth applies to us as well. It reveals to us that we can have a conversation with God at any time because He is always with us whether or not we are aware of it.
I love this truth because it opens up the possibility that I can have a conversation with God anytime, anywhere, in any circumstance or situation. Indeed, it is even possible to have an ongoing dialogue or experience with God even when I sleep! Jacob learned this truth during his first major fork in the road, at Bethel.
· Thinking about your life, what are some turning points where you have included God? What are some turning points where you didn’t include Him?
· How can you be purposeful to dialogue with God at various defining moments in your life?