Isaac’s Journey

Genesis 27, 28 continues with the life of Isaac, the son of Abraham, who follows in his father’s footsteps. Isaac marries Rebekah, his cousin.  They too have fertility problems but eventually twins are born, Esau and Jacob.  Isaac favors the elder twin, Esau, who is an outdoors person while Rebekah favors Jacob, a homebody.  Jacob, the younger twin, takes advantage of his brother and gets the birthright of the eldest, and with the aid of his mother deceives his aging father so that he receives the family blessing too.  Perhaps that doesn’t mean much to us today as our families are becoming so geographically disconnected but family squabbles over “the will”, who inherits what, and how it is done, often leave deep scars in families even today.  Jacob has to run to escape the wrath of Esau and goes to his mother’s brother who deceives him.  It is a bit of a steamy story as Isaac spends years working for his two wives and has 12 sons and eventually returns home to face Esau.  The twelve sons of Jacob by his two wives and two concubines become the twelve tribes of the Jews and from this very human story God builds the nation of Israel we see today

         At the birth of our daughter, we were standing in the crowd at our son’s boarding school as President Moi of Kenya walked past right near us.  He raised his ruling stick and pointed it at my brand new baby and said in front of everyone, “She too will go to this school.”  This family story always leads to a discussion among my children about who has blessed them and how.  Being blessed or affirmed is a powerful experience.  Baptisms, weddings, naming ceremonies all reinforce this.  Calling out and pointing out the good seen in another is a wonderful affirmation.  Perhaps you do not have children or yours are grown.  “Uncle Bill” at my church checked in with the teenagers regularly to hear how football games went, how they did on tests, and generally “saw” them and blessed them by projecting to them their “better self.”

         So many children come from broken homes today and the role of community to hold these children and bless them is sacred.  We all have parts of our life when we act less than honorably and to have someone who sees beyond our failures and affirms our potential is huge.  Affirming our value in the eyes of God is even hugh-er!  Jacob was not perfect but it was in those broken times that God was molding him and forming him. God eventually changed Jacob’s name to Israel.  God is working and is not done with us yet.  Perhaps you can think of five people you could reach out and affirm this week and affirm the work you see God doing in their lives.  Dropping a card in the mail or a text that says, “Hey, thanks for being you!” will make someone smile and make you smile too!

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