Bargaining and Worth
Let me introduce you to Jacob – a grown man who acted like a 3 year old. You see, Jacob cheated his brother Esau out of Esau’s inheritance and Esau didn’t appreciate it. Then Esau threatened to kill Jacob as soon as he found him - so Jacob decided to leave town… to go visit some relatives. While en route, Jacob lies down on the road for a night and this is where he is when he has his famous dream. In this dream, which is a vision from God, Jacob sees a ladder going to heaven with angels ascending and descending, and he receives a promise from God that his descendants will be richly blessed.
Now I don’t know about you… but if God had visited ME and gave ME a dream like Jacob got, and gave ME a promise like Jacob received – I’d be asking where I could sign up.”You just tell me where to build you a house of worship… and I’ll do it right now! I don’t know how I could repay God for that kind of faith in me...but I’d do just about anything for God … anything except try to bargain with God.
But that’s what Jacob does. Jacob says, “OK, God, if you do everything you’ve promised and never leave me and richly bless my family, then I’ll make you my God.” Implied in his vow is this: If you don’t follow through, don’t count on getting much out of me.
Too many of us live our lives this way, trying to make a deal with God; trying to make sure that a relationship with God is worth it - worth our time, our energy, our love and our service. Unfortunately, what many of miss is that while we are making deals on our end based on our presumption of God’s worthiness, God is offering us love and energy and time and service whether we are “worthy” or not.
I read about a small boy who was consistently late coming home from school. His parents warned him that he must be home on time that afternoon, but once again he arrived late… in fact, he came in a little later than usual. His mother met him at the door and said nothing. His father met him in the living room and said nothing.. At dinner that night, the boy looked at his plate. There was a slice of bread and a glass of water. He looked at his father’s full plate and then at his father, but his father remained silent. The boy was crushed. The father waited for the full impact to sink in, then quietly took his own plate of meat and potatoes, put it in front of the boy and smiled at his son.
When that boy grew to be a man, he said, “All my life I’ve known what God is like by what my father did that night.” May you all take time to notice and give thanks for who God is.