October 11, 2020

On the Road Again

Genesis 31:1-21

“I am the God of Bethel. . . . Now leave this land at once and go back to your native land.”

—  Genesis 31:13

How do you respond when life is disappointing or difficult? Do you stay and face your struggles, or do you turn and run?

Responding well to life’s challenges is a complicated subject, of course. Jacob begins preparing to leave for home because of a revelation from God. But then he sneaks away without telling his uncle about his plan to leave. Sometimes even our obedience to God is tainted with our own tendencies to sin and our reactions to fear.

But in the midst of his fear and uncertainty, Jacob begins to understand something of the faithfulness of God. He hears again the voice of “the God of Bethel,” reminding him of that night long ago when God showed Jacob—the runaway with nothing to his name—a stairway to heaven. Now again, even in the midst of another scheme, Jacob is reminded that God’s favor comes as a gift.

The apostle Paul explains that our desire to do good is always frustrated by our sin (Romans 7:18-25). And when we are sinned against, we tend to respond in sinful ways. We run away from our disappointments, and we become resentful and mean-spirited when we face difficulties.

Still, God faithfully pursues us with his loving presence. He reminds us of the way to heaven, the finished work of Jesus, which covers even our misguided efforts to follow God’s ways.

Loving God, thank you for pursuing us and sending Jesus to rescue us from sin. By your Spirit, may we learn to live for you. Amen.

About the author — Joel Vande Werken

Joel Vande Werken has been a pastor since 2007, serving churches in Sussex, New Jersey, and in Whitinsville, Massachusetts. He and his wife, Brandie, have five young children.

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