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Monday, January 16, 2017

Blessings



I think we might have it all wrong…

I was recently reading about Jacob and Esau.  Jacob is generally considered a hero of the faith, and we all kind of turn our noses up at his hairy, Neanderthal-like brother.  OK, I don’t know if that’s really how everyone sees him, but as a kid that’s surely how I imagined Esau, and the image stuck.  There are many things that could be said about the relationship between these two, but there’s an angle I’m not sure we often consider.  Jacob was willing to do anything, to step on anyone, to push and push and push until he got what he wanted.  And it wasn’t just a onetime deal.  He displays this character again in the Leah and Rachel debacle.  But I don’t have time to get into all that, today.

What struck me anew was the interaction between Esau and his father, Isaac.  Upon learning that his birthright had been stolen, Esau pleads,       

“Do you have only one blessing, my father?  Bless me, too…” (Genesis 27:38, NIV).

Isaac doesn’t have another blessing.  Or, at least, so it seems.  Interestingly, though, Isaac has blessed Esau with his presence for Esau’s entire life—a presence Jacob did not experience.  I think that has to count for something, but, as human beings, we often don’t count things that aren’t quantitative.   

Later in Scripture, David (with whom you may recall I have a love/hate relationship) says,

“Surely you have granted him unending blessings and made him glad with the joy of your presence” (Psalm 21:6, NIV).

He’s talking about himself.  ‘Unending blessing.’  That’s a huge declaration coming from someone who has had so much strife and devastation, but that’s not his focus at all (at least, not in this passage).  No… Here it comes again… David is focused on presence.

Well, interestingly, I just picked up a book called, Presence and Encounter.  I probably have close to 200 books on my Amazon wish list, but this is the one that jumped out at me when I had $7.00 to spend on my ever increasing, overrunning my home library.  It’s like there’s a theme or something!   At any rate, this statement jumped off a page: “The simple truth of our being gets lost in the metanarratives we spin.  We become the fictions we live.”[i] I wonder if Jacob got lost in his metanarrative.  I wonder if Esau got lost in his metanarrative.  I wonder if I got lost in my metanarrative.

As is typical, this got me thinking about all kinds of things that may or may not relate, but as I considered Jacob’s persistence, even at the expense of others, I remembered this quote, which I have used before:

“I’m not interested in competing with anyone.  I hope we all make it” –Erica Cook   

I wonder how Esau’s life would have been different if this was Jacob’s philosophy.  I could stop to wonder how Jacob’s life would have been different, too, and it’s a valid question, but it’s easier to discern how compassion and unity affect the weak, the marginalized, and the slighted. 

My reading, today, brought this full circle for me.

Ephesians 4:1-16…  Just… All of it…

Perhaps if we focused more on who we were created to be than on how we might get ahead of others, we would sense the presence of God, filling us every step of the way.  That’s blessing.  God is near, wherever we are.  God is near, whoever we are.  Breathe it in.  Breathe it out.  Repeat.

L. 


[i] Benner, David G., Presence and Encounter (Brazos Press: Grand Rapids, 2014), 7.

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