Joining the dots to make a bigger picture!
Do you remember those dot to dot books that used to be popular? Sometimes life can feel a bit like those, we move from one point to another, not really sure of the where’s and whys, then at some point we get the chance to stand back and see what we have created. A bit like when you join all the dots on those activity sheets, you are left with a complete picture that is ready to be brought to life in full colour, the only limitation being our own imaginations!
Yesterday we looked at Abraham and Sarah, we left them at the point (a dot) where Isaac had just been born. Today we are going to leap forward around 40 year. Sarah has now died, and Abraham is now feeling his age and felt it was time for Isaac to be married, so he sent his servant off in search of a wife. Genesis 24 tells us of how both Abraham and his servant sought the will of God in their pursuit of finding the right wife for Isaac (if you have a chance read the account, it is pretty exciting!)
Rebekah came back with Abrahams servant and was married to Isaac. Quite amazingly Abraham then took another wife and had 6 more children, before he died at 175 years old!
In Genesis 25 we read about the fertility struggles that Rebekah and Isaac faced, and how Isaac turned to God in prayer asking for them to be given children. God heard this prayer and Rebekah conceived, she had a difficult pregnancy and in Chapter 25:22 we hear her questioning why. God told her she would give birth to twin boys who would grow to be divided.
Esau was the first born of the two boys and in Genesis 25:29 we read how Jacob bought his birth right from him for a meal. We then skip forward to chapter 27; Isaac is growing old and his sight is failing him. Isaac instructs Esau to prepare him some food and bring it to him so that Isaac could bless him before he died. Much like Sarah was eavesdropping on Abrahams conversation we heard about yesterday, so too was Rebekah listening in on the conversation between Isaac and Esau.
Rebekah called Jacob to her and between them they hatched a plan to deceive Isaac into blessing Jacob instead of Esau! Esau was of course furious at this betrayal and planned to kill Jacob after their father had died. Rebekah knew of this plan, so arranged with Isaac to send Jacob off to her brother Laban, so that he could marry one of the daughters of Laban. In the meantime, Esau marries one of Ishmaels (Abraham’s son from Hagar) daughters!
When Jacob came close to Haran, he very quickly met Rachel (Genesis 29) if this was a cartoon, Jacob’s eyes would have probably turned to hearts and we would have seen his heart beating in his chest, it is clear from the scriptures that for him it was love at first sight. Jacob received a warm welcome from Laban because he was the son of Rebekah. Laban had two daughters, Rachel was the younger and is described as graceful and beautiful, it is no wonder that Jacob fell for her in the way he did and then there is was Leah who is described only as having nice eyes.
Laban agreed with Jacob that he could marry Rachel if he worked for him for 7 years. Jacob agreed and we are told that those years passed quickly because he loved her so much. When the time came for them to be married, Laban brought her to him, but when morning came Jacob realised, he had been tricked, he had been given Leah instead. I cannot help but wonder if Jacob understood the irony of the situation, having deceived his own father in a similar fashion and taking the blessing that should have been given to Esau. When Jacob went to Laban, he agreed to work another 7 years so that he could have Rachel too (she must have been incredibly special in his eyes)
Jacob did not love Leah and the lord saw this, God opened her womb and gave her many children. Rachel was loved so much by Jacob, yet her womb remained closed and she did not conceive. With each child that Leah bore, she thought that Jacob would then love her, but Rachel always remained the focus of his attentions.
Genesis chapter 30 tells us of how Rachel was filled with envy of her sister, because she had been given children and how Jacob became angry with Rachel. Rachel then gave Jacob her maid, so that she could bare children for them (this sounds so familiar to the story of Sarah and Hagar) Eventually Rachel conceives and has a son, Joseph. If we then skip forward to chapter 35 Rachel conceives again, after a difficult birth Benjamin is born, however Sadly Rachel dies.
I have found reading these chapters of genesis so exciting, it is the sort of thing I could imagine being played out on the big screen, although this stuff is far to serious to be trivialised in such a way.
We see patterns emerging in behaviours throughout the generations, we hear about jealousy, revenge and deceit carrying on in never ending cycles. These are things that we may be all too familiar with in our own lives (hopefully not on these scales) Just like those dot to dots I spoke about earlier, each action, behaviour and circumstance, comes together and creates a bigger picture than anyone could have imagined. The best part, like with our own stories is, they may have not known what was going to happen or what repercussions there would be, however God did, he knew and he knows the story for us too.
I have been particularly struck by the relationship and behaviour between Leah and Rachel. Rachel stunningly beautiful, was loved beyond measure by the husband they shared, yet she felt empty and lost, her heart yearned for a child of her own, she wanted what Leah had. Sadly, it was to be as this desire was fulfilled for a second time that she would lose her own life. Then we have Leah, rather plain and ordinary, very fertile, and blessed Jacob with many sons, yet we read how she just wanted Jacob to love her. Both these women were not satisfied with what they had, they looked upon each other with envy wanting more than anything what the other already had.
Are there areas of your life where you feel unhappy or dissatisfied? Do you find yourself in a cycle of repeated patterns and behaviours? Do you feel that you are moving from one point to another without getting anywhere? Please take comfort, things feel hard at times, in fact things are hard at times but God is with you, he loves you and wants to be in relationship with you.
Be strong and courageous, do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9
Heavenly Father, we thank you that you are always with us,
that despite our behaviours, mistakes, and feelings, your love for us is never-ending.
Lord as we go through our lives, moving from dot to dot, give us vision and clarity, help us to see the bigger picture as the story of our own lives develop and grow.
Help us as we join those dots, to fill in that picture in glorious technicolour, with all the good things you have in store for us.
Lord, grant us peace, love, joy, and freedom from all that is past.
In Jesus name we pray