Reading Through The Bible in 2011, Day 10

What I Read: Genesis 29-32.

What Stood Out: Genesis 29-32.

Random Thoughts About What I Read:

I’m having a very good sports year.

My favorite baseball team went to the World Series. In addition to the 20 or so years I’ve been a fan of the Texas Rangers, we followed them from Opening Day through the long Dog Days of summer, to winning the pennant (beating the hated Yankees). I attended a World Series game and our team won, even though we lost the championship.

My favorite college football team plays for the National Championship tonight. Any Auburn fan born after 1957 has never seen our team win it all. We’ve been through years where we went undefeated and never got to play for the championship, and years where voters kept us from winning it even though we had the same record as other teams and played a tougher schedule. We’ve been through this season where accusations flew and games were very close.

And, yes. I want(ed) my team to win. I want my teams who have never won it all since I’ve been alive to win it all. I make jokes about how I want to see them raise the trophy high overhead just once in my life. I’ll buy t-shirts and hats. I’ll cheer and be happy. I’ll call old friends and enjoy the moment with them. For sure. But just once I want to see it.

Until next season. Apparently, they won’t shut down the leagues if my teams ever do win. They’ll just pick up in the spring and fall of the next year. Something tells me I’ll go through the highs and lows again. Year after year. The good & bad plays. The good & bad games. The good & bad seasons.

I’m not sure that it’s true that once will be enough. To see it once would be nice. But my guess is that the t-shirt’s date will signify a year most non-followers have forgotten and the commemorative magazines will get stuck in a drawer and the championship hats will become ones I wear for yard work rather than for show. I’ll want more.

And that’s what stands out to me in this section.

We have Laban. Laban was doing pretty well for himself. Not too terribly rich, but well off enough. He has two daughters and a guy falls in love with the younger one. So much so that he is willing to work for 7 years for her. At the end of the term the festivities are set. Turns out Jacob didn’t read the fine print about the customs of the culture he was living in. Surprise! Turns out you gotta marry the oldest first. Laban wanted 7 more years of work & got it…and eventually got 6 more years of quality labor and unprecedented business growth during those two decades.

We have Jacob. He wanted to strike out on his own instead of working for Laban. He’s built the family business anyway. He even wants to make a deal his boss can’t refuse. Became extremely prosperous after the deal, too. God tells Jacob to head out and go and make his own life, too. But he doesn’t have peace in his household with wives and stuff bickering. And, instead of waiting on God to pave the way for the business plan to come together, he sneaks off and runs away with his stuff without communicating to his boss.

We have Rachel and Leah. Leah was the older sister. The one that was unwanted because of Jacob’s love for Rachel (so deep that 7 years of labor seemed like minutes, right?) and basically couldn’t get a man unless her dad tricked someone into it. Oh, but she was fertile and gave Jacob children. Still didn’t win his love even though Rachel was infertile so she had that going for her. But Rachel got concubines to surrogate for her. So Leah had more kids and back and forth that went. Even in the plan to sneak off in the dead of night, they made sure to mention that their dad wasn’t ever going to give them the inheritance. Rachel even stole her father’s gods from his household as they left.

Thankfully, God intervened during Jacob’s flight or Laban would’ve made war against them. As it stood, they made an uneasy peace treaty because they didn’t trust each other (which is ironic that one of these verses in used on Christian jewelry to express meaningful friendship despite the context of the words on Mizpah medallions is based on distrust)…but agreed to co-exist.

No one in the story ever seems to get enough. Never enough money. Never enough prosperity. Never enough children. Never enough land. Never enough prestige. Never enough of whatever it is that makes enough enough.

It seems to create all sorts of chaos in individuals. It seems to create chaos in personal relationships. It seems to create problems in their family. It seems to create chaos in the culture at large.

The good news is in Chapter 32…even if it might’ve been based in fear. Once the uneasy peace with Laban was secure he was about to come face-to-face with Esau.

The person he was on the run from.
The person who he got the birthright from.
The person he got the inheritance from.
The person who vowed to kill him.

He feared a military attack by his brother Esau. So much so that he split the camp up into two groups so the damage and carnage could be minimized.

So, he prayed.

And God calmed his fears.

And Jacob began to send a series of gifts to Esau. Lots of livestock…which amounted to lots of money. Made sure that Esau would know that there were more gifts coming, too. And eventually, his brother, his sisters-in-law, and his nieces and nephews were at the end of the line somewhere. This act was symbolic in that culture: That the person giving the gift was recognizing the superiority of the recipient of the gift.

He was giving away his “more.”

And just when he thought he’d possibly saved the lives of his loved ones with his gifts, Jacob fights for his life against a stranger. Turns out he was fighting against “God and man” and prevailed. Then, got a limp in the battle as a constant reminder. But until he submitted to God, he was in need of “more.”

It’s easy in suburban American culture to want more.

More money.
More prestige.
More comfort.
More stuff.
More from relationships.
More of more.
There’s never enough “enough.”

Because, even if our teams hold the trophy over their heads for a year or whatever, eventually, somebody else will do it later and we’ll want it again.

But until we let stuff be stuff and God be God…

…and by that I don’t mean put him #1 on our list or our “co-pilot”…

…but rather have Christ BE the list or the plane…

…we’ll never be at peace.

And even when we do it’s not that easy.

(Tomorrow’s Reading: Genesis 33-36)