From Genesis to Now:
When Fear Besets Us
After 20 years of working for Laban, Jacob’s life is changing. God is always at work bringing about his plan, but often as we move through life, it’s just hard to see. Day in, day out, Jacob worked Laban’s flocks. Night in, night out, he dealt with two competing sisters and two maids, who likely felt more used than anything else.
But, the day came when angels appeared and Jacob was heading home. He didn’t know what lay ahead, but at least it was different, and it involved dreams from God and an angelic appearance. Even considering his fear of the unknown, it had to be exciting. Change typically brings excitement…and fear.
Twenty years can change a person—at least to some extent—and notice how Jacob approaches his brother. He refers to Esau as “my master” and himself as “your servant.” And, he wants to “find favor” with the brother he’d so terribly wronged. Sometimes fear forces us to recognize our faults and past sins.
Twenty years had changed Esau as well. Perhaps, he’d been more attentive to his parents. Perhaps he’d come to accept God’s plan for his life. We don’t know. All we know is that 20 years gives time to ponder one’s regrets and Esau’s animosity is gone, but Jacob doesn’t know this.
So, Jacob finally, totally turns to the God who’d sought him—the God who saw him for what he was and who’d blessed him far more than he deserved or expected anyway.
As Jacob, we realize that we, too, are unworthy of God’s kindness and faithfulness.
And even as Jacob leans into the one true God, he still doesn’t refer to him as his own God. It’s interesting that God is so busy at work in the life of a man who only sees God as the god of his father. But, Jacob is in a pickle, so to speak, so he turns to the only effectual god he knows. Trouble has a way of doing that.
So, Jacob prays in the fear of his brother Esau and sets a plan to meet him.
—the parishioner who doesn’t do anything