csibiblestudy


When Our Plans Change, God Works!
June 20, 2014, 5:34 pm
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book

When Our Plans Change, God Works!

I once stood before a homecoming crowd at half-time of a basketball game to share my thoughts about what the school meant to me. I was talking to many of my students, both past and current, as well as parents and teachers. Not only had I and my wife taught many years at the school, but our children and grandchildren had attended. At the end of my message, I talked about what my future would be. I planned on working full time until I retired at seventy, working part time until eighty-five, and then being a pastor of a church. That was my plan and I’m sure God must have smiled because His plans were different. By the end of the school year, I was heading in a different direction which took me at times to a place of doubt and uncertainty. It was at that point, God took control. Sometimes, maybe many times, life takes us on a different path than our plan. God works through those difficult times to accomplish His will in our lives. On example in the Bible is the story of Jacob and Rachel.

The story found in Genesis 29 is simple. God, through Isaac, directed Jacob away from his comfort zone to Haran, the homeland of Rebekah and Isaac. He was going to see Laban, Rebekah’s brother, and to seek a wife. God brought the one to whom Jacob should marry, Rachel, who was doing her everyday task of watering the sheep. It was an everyday event in the life of Rachel that intersected with a returning “cousin” who was looking for someone from his homeland to marry. After a kiss of greeting, Rachel ran to tell her dad, Laban, that Rebekah’s son, Jacob had come home. In Laban, Jacob met his match. They were two cut from the same cloth. As much as a deceiver and con man that Jacob was, Laban was more. Compared to Laban, the doctor of deceit, Jacob was still in elementary school. His world would be changed was he reaped the fruit of a lifetime of sowing deceit. After a discussion with Laban, Jacob agreed to work seven years for Rachel. Although the work was tough, because of his love for Rachel, to Jacob the seven years seemed like only a few days. So after the seven years, Jacob wanted Rachel, and was given a veiled girl at the end of the day. When the next morning came, Jacob realized that the beloved wife Rachel wasn’t Rachel but her older sister, Leah. The wool had been pulled over Jacob’s eyes and he was devastated by being deceived. The thing I noticed was how Laban blew off the deceit as nothing big. Just like Jacob had always done. In fact, he told Jacob that it was because Leah was the firstborn so she should be married first. Leah had the blessing and birthright of being the firstborn daughter. Can’t you see God reminding Jacob of his deceit of the firstborn? We see Laban then making a new deal for Rachel, getting seven years more work from Jacob. Let me mention to things that are often misconceptions. First, Leah had an “eye issue”. It has been suggested that she had poor eyesight, was cross-eyed, or some other abnormality with her eyes. It could have been that her eyes were of a light color. Most women of that region had dark eyes. If Leah had blue eyes, it could have been thought that was a fault. It was could also mean that she had “delicate eyes”, which may mean she had beautiful eyes. Second, the agreement with Laban over Rachel was that he had to fulfill a week, and then Rachel would be given to him. Then Jacob would work an additional seven years. Many times this story is told that he worked seven years for Leah, then an additional seven years, after which he received Rachel. But according to the Bible, he received Rachel after the week of celebrating his marriage to Leah. Also notice that God allowed Leah to have children because she was “hated”. The concept was that she was “unloved”. She thought that since Rachel couldn’t have children, Jacob would love her because she could. Three times we read that she had a son, so she could be loved. At the birth of the fourth son, Judah, she no longer concerned herself with being loved, but praised the Lord. Her focused turned away from herself toward the Lord and His grace. We see the emphasis on GRACE!.

We can see this story as merely God evening the score with Jacob in the areas in which Jacob has cheated others.
Jacob deceived both Esau and Isaac, his father. Now his father-in-law, and his mother’s brother deceive Jacob. Jacob had abused the rights of the first-born son and now he is forced to honor the rights of the first-born daughter. Finally, Jacob has to deal with the consequences of Laban’s deception and comes to realize that his deception had consequences dealt with by Isaac and Esau.

Often, we leave the explanation at this point, feeling that we have interpreted the passage and “now you know and knowing is half the battle”. But before we leave, let’s see how God was working all these events together to comfort Jacob to “Christ-likeness”. First, Jacob was away from the hustle and bustle of the Promised Land where he was running one “con” after another. Surrounded by his stuff and his friends, no doubt, Jacob was a person full of plots and plans. But in Haran he was dealing with the unknown. He was out of his “comfort zone” and had plenty of time to think and reflect on his life. He didn’t have his mom building his ego during times of doubt. During those unplanned events that life brings, God uses the time to have us reflect and think about how we have been living. Second, God allowed Jacob to fail at what he considered his strongest point. No one had gotten the best of Jacob. He was always the one in control. But with Laban, Jacob is humbled. His one strength vanished. God wants us to remember that His desire is that we come to Him realizing our spiritual bankruptcy. We have nothing to offer God. We have nothing but weakness. Once we come to that point, He can become our strength. We have to be “IN CHRIST” to do anything. God will also use those times when life isn’t fair to develop faith and reliance upon the Holy Spirit’s control of our lives. With the Spirit in control, we then see our godly character developed. If we never stop complaining that life is unfair, we develop a victim’s attitude of bitterness which destroys us while not harming the one with whom we are bitter. When life seems unfair, ask what lesson God is teaching you. The final lesson is that God works His plan for our future during times that we don’t understand. This is where trust is learned and practiced. We also have a time of seeing what is really important. We then will share those things with our family as well as our friends. What was the result of God’s lessons in the life of Jacob? He was a different man when he left. From this point on, Jacob could not take credit for anything that was accomplished through his life. It was all through God. Whatever happened in his life, God did it!
So what about you? When you’re out of your comfort zone, what is God teaching you? Spend time thinking about what God wants changed and listen to God. Second, how is this “humbling” you? Third, how are you reacting, with a better trust or a bitter spirit? Finally, can’t I trust God, even when I don’t understand?

 

 

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