These are a few thoughts for us drawn directly from Genesis 28: 11b – 15.
“Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. There above it stood the Lord and he said: “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring! I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”
I’ll speak only for myself but I believe MANY people are like me in this: I STRONGLY tend to live my life with a concept of limited good (there’s only so much ‘goodness and abundance” in existence, and, it’s not enough to go around so therefore I’ve got to A. opt out and cower in my corner or B. scramble and compete really hard to get my share and then feel entitled to what I’ve “pulled myself up by my own bootstraps” to own.
We’re talking worldviews, of course, and there are other ones too, one of which might be ” I’ll work my way to God’s pleasure in me, through my own niceness and good works and giving. ” This one’s VERY popular!
And there is an alternative to these, and other, worldviews. And, yes, it’s another worldview!
It’s simple but not easy.
It’s believing God, when he says, “I will take care of you.”. It’s believing God, when he says, “I have so much MORE for you than just a rough hard stone for your pillow. It’s believing God when he says to me, ‘I can and will remove ALL your failings and bad thoughts and bad doings from you, forever, even the ones you haven’t done YET, and I see you as PERFECT and BELOVED, by ME, permanently and forever.’
“It’s all about the relationship, Child Mine. I want to walk close with you forever, alive with you!”
It’s believing God, when he says to me, “I love you SO much more than you could ever even begin to conceptualize. I created you! I have AMAZING plans for you, which you can access if you only believe me and walk close with me and trust me, plans for you to love and serve others and, in doing so, to find deep fulfillment, joy and happiness in life. Plans for you to live DEEP in relationship and community and in worship, of me.
God says to each of us, “I am deeply, infinitely, and personally GOOD, in the universe, and in your life, if you’ll let me in.”
In the passage, the patriarch Jacob had his plan; he was scrambling, he was going to be content with getting away from his brother Esau who wanted to kill him, since Jacob had stolen, like, ten million dollars, from him (his birthright!). And he was going to do it on his own, he was going to (continue to!) scratch and scrabble and make do and pull himself up by his bootstraps and survive and scramble and be a street rat and try to “bless” himself!
And the INFINITELY GOOD GOD of the universe and beyond intervened, for Jacob, one night while Jacob was scrambling and “woe-is-me-ing” and God gave Jacob a true vision of God’s abundant, good and personal plan for Jacob’s life, and when he woke up in the morning and lifted his head from that hard rock “pillow” in the wilderness, Jacob began believing God, and walking with God. And it was a long process, through years following, and Jacob messed up lots more times, but he didn’t let go of his walk with God, and he learned, and he grew. Spiritually. Little by little. Partly because he learned to repent, and ask and take God’s forgiveness, and other people’s forgiveness, for his mess ups.
So, I think there’s a lot of hope, this Christmas time, and every. single. day. of. every. person’s. life.
My first (and beloved!) real home, Sakbayeme, where I lived from age three through age seven, with part of my community there.