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Friday, March 14, 2014
Scripture Reading: Genesis 28:10–22
Jacob left Beer-sheba and went toward Haran. He came to a certain place and stayed there for the 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. And he dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, the top of it reaching to heaven; and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. And the Lord stood beside him 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; and 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 all the families of the earth shall be blessed in you and in your offspring. Know that 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.” Then Jacob woke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place—and I did not know it!” 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.”
So Jacob rose early in the morning, and he took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it. He called that place Bethel; but the name of the city was Luz at the first. Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God, and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God’s house; and of all that you give me I will surely give one tenth to you.” (NRSV)
What is interesting about our reading today is that at the end of the story Jacob doesn’t build an altar to worship this visiting God (Yahweh). Instead he sets up a pillar and consecrates it with oil, renames his sleeping spot “God’s house,” and speaks forth a conditional promise, saying, “If God takes care of me on this trip, then Yahweh (the Lord) will be my God.” (Meaning then Jacob will build an altar and worship this God.) Jacob is confident in God’s visit to him but doesn’t have the confidence to be all in and call Yahweh his God.
For a long time now I have felt that God is calling me to become a pastor, and yet I often think that I am making all this God stuff up and that God isn’t really involved in my life and if I become a pastor I will be wasting my life. I have this sense that God has called me, and yet I am afraid to take up the call because I am not sure I believe God.
I suppose I should be comforted by Jacob’s doubt—that one of the fathers of our faith had his doubts too—although I think this is only partly the comfort of this Bible story. The great comfort of this story is the words that the Lord speaks to this sleeping, doubting Jacob: “I will not leave you until I have done everything that I have promised you.”
We are all going to have our doubts about whether or not God is real in our lives. The assuring thing is that God doesn’t.
Lord, I confess I struggle to believe that you love me and have called me to be your child. Please open my eyes to see you and my ears to hear you. Amen.
Written by Daniel Holladay, Senior High Youth Coordinator
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