This week I will be sharing some thoughts on the life of Jacob, based on a series of messages I gave at a youth retreat last fall. I pray that this will be encouraging and challenging for you, as it was for me!
Did you ever read one of those “choose your own adventure” novels?
As you read along, you came to places in the story where you could decide if you wanted the story to unfold with plot A or plot B. Then you would come to another place where you could choose again. Each choice built on the one before to create a particular story.
Just like that “choose your own adventure” novel, your life is a series of defining questions, defining moments, and defining choices. At one point, we might seem to be in relatively the same place right as our peers, but as we go through our lives we will have particular moments that change and mark who we become. Some of these moments you will have control over, some you will not.
We will also all make defining choices. We will come to places in our lives where we must choose what is most important to us, who we are, if we will serve God or ourselves.
Underneath these defining moments and defining choices are some particular questions we must answer. Questions like, “What is the purpose of my life?” “What will I do with Jesus?” “Is God who the Bible says He is?” – the way we answer these questions will radically change the way the rest of our lives unfold.
This week we will be considering four questions that tie together into one big question – what’s your story? As you come to those places where you can choose plot line A or plot line B… what decisions have you already made? Which ones will you make next? Ultimately each of those things will define the story of your life.
To look at our own stories and consider what God might want to do in the next chapters of our lives, we will be considering together the life of Jacob.
Everyone’s story begins with a family, and this is true for Jacob, as well.
As I think about Jacob’s family, it makes me wonder if he felt lost in the shadow of those around him. His grandfather was the Abraham – Jacob grew up hearing stories of his grandfather leaving Ur, believing incredible promises that God had made to him, waiting for years and years for their beloved son Isaac to be born. Surely his father had told him stories about the day he hiked up Mount Moriah with his dad, finding that God had commanded that he be sacrificed on top of the mountain… and the dramatic way God stopped them and provided a ram in the thicket.
These were the stories that were told as the family sat around their fire in the evenings. We read the book of Genesis… but these were their lives. Their stories.
And then there was Esau. Jacob was already a twin brother, and he was the twin who didn’t really get along as well with his father. Esau was the “man’s man.” He was an outdoorsy hunter, while Jacob preferred to stay near Rebekah and help her around the campsite.
I wonder if Jacob felt forgotten, unimportant, lost in the shadows of those around him. I wonder, after growing up hearing amazing stories of what God had done for his father and grandfather, if their sin caused him to view them as fakes.
Sometimes we can feel lost in the shadow. We can begin to rebel and reject those around us, thinking that they are fake. We can start to want to give up, comparing ourselves to those around us, feeling that we are unimportant or less valued than others we interact with. We can also begin to coast by on the spiritual heritage we have been given, resting in their testimonies of walking with God rather than striking out on a journey of our own with Him.
The question is – “who are you?” Not what kind of heritage do you have, how much knowledge do you have, what church do you belong to… who are you? What choice will you make to walk with the Lord Jesus Christ – no matter how fake or how spiritually outstanding others might be?
At the end of your life, what will be your story?
To be continued tomorrow!