Jacob, he followed the guileful advice of someone he trusted.
He knew better
but having practiced his own kind of trickery
Further goading into unscrupulous actions did not require much stretch
And so he deceived, betrayed, cheated those he belonged to
In the family circle
When the seeds of his actions grew too tall
Again on the advice of someone he trusted
Someone who should never have counseled
Into the desert
Because he couldn’t see how to fix the problems on his own
He couldn’t fathom forgiveness
Because cheaters are sometimes the least forgiving
In the darkness of his run
God showed him a ladder
A ladder to Him
Climbing to forgiveness
This ladder that climbed both ways
built by a Father who loved so much
He was willing to climb down from
His Kingdom throne
to save a runaway
But still the runaway, he ran,
ran into the camp of a fellow deceiver
Where he learned deception, betrayal, cheating
Creates problems in the victim’s life, too
he approached the ladder of the dessert
The ladder to Him
That climbed both ways
Facing the ladder, he reached hands newly calloused
With honesty, honor, hope
to grabbed hold of the first rung,
planted a foot to climb
He packed for home
On his way, God met him
Wrestled with him
And God found him finally strong enough
to overcome the past,
This man determined to be good
The selfish man who had run
Who couldn’t see beyond his wants
His coveting ways that led him to take
What was not his
He returned home
To take responsibility for his actions
To repent to those he cheated, tricked, betrayed
He returned home to be embraced
His account wiped clean
To relationship righted
All because of the ladder to Him
That climbed both ways
“If God stands by me and protects me
on this journey on which I’m setting out,
keeps me in food and clothing,
and brings me back in one piece to my father’s house,
this God will be my God.”
~ Genesis 28:20
I bet Jacob wanted to return sooner, make things right sooner. He didn’t because he probably didn’t really believe that forgiveness was for him. He knew his track record. He knew what he had done.
Until one day, he finally realized that he trusted God enough to go home. Trusted that the ladder of restoration, of forgiveness God built was true. It was so unbelievable – unbelievable but true.
The run-away returned home in a faith-is-the-substance-of-things-hope-for-the-evidence-of-things-not-seen way to the see first-hand the proof that God builds miraculous ladders that climb both ways.
He learned that like God climbing down that ladder to us first, sometimes we have to climb those ladders to others, first. To say I’m sorry. To say, “Can I come home?” To say, “I want a relationship with you, like we were meant to have.” To say, “The past is nothing. It is now that counts – from today forward.” To say, “I am willing to pay the price I owe for the wrong I have committed.”
Because of that ladder that climbs both ways, God’s plan for each life can be fulfilled – beautifully, wholly, completely.
To the run-away – grab hold of the ladder’s rung – grab hold and pull yourself home. The Father, the great Yahweh, will come down and help you.
Like Jacob, you will be met, welcomed, embraced, forgiven, your hope renewed.
If you’ve ever had a child run, whether it is from your room, from your home for a day, 3 days, 21 days, weeks for months, the story of Jacob is a story you grab onto as evidence of the Hope and Faith we have in the Father. This story of loss, redemption and restoration tells us God was prepared for run-aways. He pursues them. He built a ladder for them.
The coming home – it is not about the parent heart finding peace – it is all about the runaway being safe, found. Not just relationship restored – because sometimes that is a journey. There is the physical coming home – but the desire for the emotional and spiritual coming home, the desire for whole choices and not brokenness. It is what the parent hopes for through faith.
We’ve been praying for Annie to be found this last week. She ran away. She hasn’t been found yet.
It made me remember another run-away – who packed up 2 backpacks full of possession, stealthily left, walked through fields, under fences, ripping and tearing at his bags and his clothes – to a friend who picked him up on the other side of a forest he didn’t know, filled with coyotes, snakes and other unseen things. He came face to face with truth in the darkness of the forest.
Our hearts grieved that we would have a child who would run away. He was given a choice – a choice to be respectful or leave. He left.
It was only hours – but those were awful hours. Hours filled with grief that someone we loved so completely, worked so hard to fill with good things and God things – would run away.
It happened 3 times. He was dealing with inside things, authority things. Each run-away has inside things they battle. The return home doesn’t mean the run-away’s battles are over, that inside brokenness, either by things others have done or things they themselves have done, isn’t instantly made whole. There’s a journey to a run-away’s wholeness, even to our wholeness.
Jacob’s run-away story shows us that.
Our run-away with 2 back-packs filled with possessions? He’s on that journey to wholeness. He’s now making good man choices. He’s got a hand on that ladder, a foot raised to climb up. He’s wrestling with God – but that means he’s got his hands on God and God has his hands on him.
Jacob’s run-away journey didn’t stop when he reached family, Laban. His run-away journey didn’t end with the hand grasping the ladder. The run-away journey ended when he stopped wrestling with God, even though he was on his way home. When he stopped wrestling with God, he trusted God – trusted God to help him overcome his past.