And Went Out…
Genesis 28:10 – 32:3
Hosea 12:13 – 14:10
John 1:43 – 51
The corporate ladder is not something that was invented by American businessmen. Jacob knew about it long before Trump became a household name. However, Jacob knew the truth about the corporate ladder, and that is this: your success on earth is directly connected to your success in heaven. Without the latter, there is no ladder, just the appearance of one.
And went out Jacob’s ladder
I don’t think there is anything more frustrating than thinking that there is more to life and you just can’t reach it. In fact I often wonder why the Lord would give us the capacity to think of things beyond our ability to obtain or understand. There are times that we struggle with things so beyond us that they can literally send us spiraling into a severe depression, and yet, we won’t even realize that that is where we’ve been living.
Jacob left his house in shame. He left with his head down and his tail between his legs. His relationship with his father was impaired beyond repair. It was never truly mended in his lifetime, and he spends his young adult to adult years in the service of a man who doesn’t respect him. Furthermore, he creates relationships with four women who seem to complicate his life more than what he was looking for; and the whole thing brings little of the relief he was hoping for.
All the while, Jacob must be wondering how any of this factors into his relationship with God. Have you ever been there? Have you ever been in a place with God where absolutely nothing you are doing makes any sense to you? In fact you feel completely unsuccessful, uncertain, and unappreciated–just rolling with the wind. Well, that’s where Jacob is. He’s learning a little something about God’s “Corporate Training” program; one that came with the birthright and the blessing he stole.
Generations of honor
All Jacob wanted was a quiet life in which the gifts and talents that he felt that he possessed would be appreciated. All he wanted was a woman by his side who would help him through the lonely nights. All he wanted was for his father to be proud of him and to realize that he wasn’t as “soft” as Isaac seemed to think he was. But none of that happened. Instead, he was unsuccessful.
If Jacob was looking for honor, he picked a funny way of getting it. His strategy failed. Nothing he did ever turned out right. Even the wealth that he accumulated from profiting Laban’s business was used to make him feel as if he had stolen it; and all of the hard work that he demonstrated was branded as manipulation by Laban’s sons.
Instead of becoming an honorable man, he became an outcast running from one house to another, leaving the same way that he came, in dishonor. There comes a point in your life when you have to realize that God isn’t going to give you what you want the way that you want it, and there is no one else to run to but to him. No one else can solve the problem. No one else can make it go away. No one else has the answers. There is nowhere else to go, and no one else to please. It’s time to stop running and be still.
Life of Sarah, more than magic required
Jacob has finally come to the end of himself. He’s a brilliant man, but no one cares. He is thoughtful and genuine but no one has seen it. He is hardworking and diligent, but it amounts to treason. When you know you have the magic touch, but all of your magic turns to naught, you must stop and face the reality. Something has gone wrong.
In the movie “The Color Purple” there is a song that I always liked as a child and it goes like this: Can’t sleep at night, something has gone wrong, maybe God is trying to tell me something. Have you ever had those restless nights? Have you ever wondered whether God was trying to tell you something but you’ve never allowed yourself the stillness that is required to hear Him?
Before Jacob went to Laban’s house, the Lord showed him a strange thing in a vision. He showed Jacob a ladder that reached from earth to heaven and Angels on the ladder. Christ talks about this same ladder, except he says that Angels ascend and descend up and down him! Jesus is in fact the ladder, and God showed Jacob this very thing, but he didn’t understand. God showed Jacob his success plan ahead of time, but Jacob never asked what that was to mean to him. He dismissed it as if the vision could be dismissed and be remembered as an interesting dream. Jacob didn’t realize that God was calling Jacob to a specific corporate ladder, one that entailed a new measuring rod for success.
Who, but God, could have known what Jacob was struggling with? Who, but God, could give the answer before the question is asked? Jacob didn’t know that God was showing him another way to be blessed. Now that he is discouraged, now that he is afraid, now that he is alone and he is out of options and lost for strategy, he is ready. He is ready to hear the truth about God’s corporate ladder. He has learned that the only way to close the door on the past, and prevent the future from repeating itself, is to be still. And God will visit him there. God is going to answer Jacob’s question, but first Jacob must wrestle with the fact that he has one that only God can answer.