10/13/2018 5:37:37 PM
God never gives up his pursuit of us

God never lets go, never gives up.
When I was a fourth grade teacher, one of the most fun activities I planned for my students was sifting.  As California's rich history is a key part of the curriculum, it covers the Gold Rush and of course, gold panning.  So, I bought tiny fishing weights, spread them out on cardboard, took a hammer and pounded them in various flat-ish shapes, then spray painted them gold.  Getting ahold of several large aluminum tubs, I filled them with coarse sand and water, sinking the 'gold' down in them.  Willing parents took hammer and nail to make holes in old sturdy pie tins.  On the big day, students excitedly stood in line to pan for gold.  It was really fun, though they were just sifting.
Sometimes, we need to do a similar thing to sift out the lessons from the biographies and faith journeys of Bible folks.  Looking back, we see all the stupid things they did, right?  In some cases, we wish we could get a do-over for them, so that perhaps everythingwould have been different - like Adam and Eve?
There are no accidental people or accidental stories recorded in Scripture.
With some biblical characters, we only learn one piece of their story - not so with Jacob.  The Bible even records utero-time for this guy, wrestling with his twin in mother Rebekah's womb!  Ten chapters are devoted to Jacob's story - from his conniving ways to get the birthright(which meant double the inheritance for him) and blessingof his brother, Esau, to having to run away to live with his Uncle Laban to stay alive.  He winds up with two wives - sister wives, no less! - and then 'knows' their handmaids as well, [y-u-c-k!], fathering 13, count 'em, 13 children.  One lone daughter, Dinah, in the baker's dozen.
Eventually, everyone wants to go home.  Even Jacob. He did what it took to make things right with Esau, who had his own rebellious, wrongful ways, for sure, and returns to the land of his birth.  
Can I be honest?  In the last weeks, I have struggled to find the reason Jacob's name, (well actually even Isaac's name), is listed with Abraham's great name - he of great faith, friend of God. 1Even Jesus quoted the Father's identifying words, 
"I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, 
the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob,"2
those words used about 12 times in the Scripture.  
Yes, besides being the father of 12 sons who would form the twelve tribes, becoming the nation of Israel - not a small matter ... what can we glean, you and me, from his life, and from his relationship with God?  I mean, I wonder ... is there anything in 2018, that applies? 
...a man who is hurting, who is feeling so alone
   ...a woman, a wife, whose husband unexpectedly died of a brain aneurism
         ...a young man who remembers being close to God in high school, but-
   general, things just aren't turning out like you thought they would
                 or should in your life
                    is there anything we can glean from the life of Jacob?!
                     having sifted the pages of Genesis, and other references
                     to him in Scripture?  (there are more than 300 places the
                     Word mentions him!)
Though Jacob was born grasping the heel of his twin, Esau3
it was God who never let go of Jacob ...
he spoke to him, pursued him, came to him in dreams, gave him a new name, and chose to birth the nation of Israel from his loins. 
Friend, don't you see, God's love for Jacob, his purposes for him and his life, are the same for you, the same for me!  
Not only does he who watches over us neither slumber nor sleep . . .
He never gives up his pursuit of us, of loving us, of wanting relationship with us and wanting us in Heaven with him.  (As the song says, 'he didn't want heaven without us...' and so gave us Jesus).
Nobody is in the Bible by mistake. Your life, your journey is not a mistake either. God uses it all-the good, the great, the tough, the broken, the ugly-when we give it to him.  Sometimes there is a sifting that goes on in our lives as well.  I love the promise - yes I believe it is a promise - that God works all things together for the good of those who love God4- so-if you're in the middle of the 'not so good', God is not finished.  He is still working it out.  God never lets go, never gives up.
Beyond comforted,
1 - Abraham, friend of God, James 2.23
2 - Matthew 22.32; Exodus 3.6
3 - Genesis 25.26
4 - Romans 8.28