Lately I’ve been reading Genesis 28 and 35, and confess I may be a little jealous of Jacob’s experience of the stairway to heaven, with all those angels ascending and descending. I too want the glory of heaven on me as I lay on my ‘Perfect Sleeper’ mattress from Costco. I want assurance my life has a specific purpose. I want what Jacob got at Bethel; a special word from God.
Bethel is holy ground in Jacob’s life. It is the place where God assures him of future blessing so huge, it was hard to wrap his mind around it. Jacob would become a great nation; his descendants multiplied like the stars. I don’t want that part, as I have enough stretch marks from the two I’ve birthed. However, I do want to hear God’s pronouncement of blessing for me and my family right here in Modesto, California. I’d like my own ladder from heaven.
In my mind, blessing and suffering are mutually exclusive. If God blesses my life, I should live in a state of blissful well-being, exempt from anything not happy. Yet sandwiched between God’s promises of blessings are two sad events. First his wife’s beloved nurse and helper dies, then his wife dies in childbirth.
According to my definition of a blessed life these events should have negated God’s words, sending Jacob into depression and despair. He should have every right to say: “I don’t want to be a great nation. I like my name Jacob. AND, I want my wife and my life back. THAT would bless me.”
But there is no evidence of Jacob questioning God’s words or rebelling against His ways. Instead, he seems fixed on God Himself, confident in His promises. Then, God speaks so clearly that Jacob builds an altar and names this sacred place of prayer Bethel; the place where God speaks.
Even after God speaks to me I often trip over places of heartache as though they discount His words. I want the anointing without the reality; the holy water that keeps me from unpleasantness, and worry, and dealing with anything negative. Ever again. Amen!
If I could only see beyond my tendency to trade my destiny for a bowl of temporary goodness, I could move past my disappointment into the calling of God.
Prayer is the place where God speaks; where I see more than the here and now and catch a glimpse of His eternal plan. I build altars at my Bethels, not so I will stake a claim on the blessing, but so I remember God spoke to me there. He will figure out the blessing. The pain I’m experiencing now in no way diminishes or thwarts His purpose.
Jacob’s prayer life, and his life of obedience after those sacred moments, speak to me. Keep walking forward. Base your hope on the truth, not your circumstances. Keep your focus on the ‘Bless-er’ rather than what you think the blessing should look like, and keep on…just living the thing.
Excerpt from Colleen’s upcoming devotional, “The Scent Of Blessing”.