February 11, 2011


Genesis 32:1-21

Jacob’s gifts went on ahead of him, but he himself spent the night in the camp.
Genesis 32:21


Jacob was scared that night. In a few hours he would be meeting his brother, Esau, for the first time in decades. Jacob had reason to be nervous: more than 20 years ago his brother Esau had made death threats against him (Genesis 27:41). And the report today was that Esau was bringing 400 men (an army!) to meet him. Jacob waited in the dark, the metallic taste of fear in his mouth.

Using his wits, Jacob had moved quickly. He had diversified his assets, splitting his people and his livestock into two groups, so that one might be spared in case of attack.

Then he sent Esau a gift of more than 500 animals in separate herds: goats, sheep, camels, cattle, and donkeys. Jacob hoped that all these would pacify his brother, whom he had wronged so long ago.

One by one the different groups moved on ahead, and as each group left, the camp grew quieter. As the last noisy herd of animals melted into the night, an eerie silence fell onto the camp.

Jacob was alone.

Have you ever been alone? In those moments when you couldn’t run anymore or there were no more plans or strategies to make, what was God teaching you? What lessons did you learn?

Lord, sometimes we surround ourselves with work and planning, or simply with friends, music, or the TV or Internet. Draw us to a quiet place where we can’t help encountering you. Amen.

About the author — Ron Vanderwell

Ron Vanderwell recently became the senior pastor of New Life Church in New Lenox, Illinois. He has been a pastor for 22 years, serving as a church planter for the previous 12 years at The Gathering in Sacramento, California, and before that as a pastor in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Ron and his wife, Deb, have three sons: John, Adam, and Jake. Ron shares more of his reflections on “squinting” for God in his blog at www.squintforgod.com.

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