Have you ever had a moment in your life that has been a pivot point? A moment when you knew that when you emerged the other side, you would never be the same again? This is Jacob’s moment.
He has been sent away from his family and is ‘alone’, probably for the first time. He is no longer under the gaze of his father or mother, and isn’t with his uncle yet. He is neither at home nor at his destination, he is in the in-between place. Genesis 28:11 simply describes it as a certain place that he stopped at because the sun had set. Yet it is here that he meets GOD.
It is such a comfort to know that GOD is there in the in-between times and in the places that have no name to them. He is there in the times when life is changing and moving, when we feel a little out there by ourselves or stepping into new things. It is often in these times that an encounter with GOD may be the last thing on our minds, but is what we need the most.
Jacob has a life changing and powerful dream of a staircase that rests on earth and reaches to heaven (the sky). There are angels going up and down this staircase and GOD stands above it. The Lord introduces Himself to Jacob as the GOD of Abraham and Isaac, He is not yet Jacob’s. Jacob has, no doubt, heard the stories of this GOD, but this is his moment of encounter.
I love that GOD is the one that initiates the first encounter. Jacob doesn’t have to build up to it, create a special place or do anything in particular. He had not made himself ready or acceptable, in fact he had been deceptive and was running for his life. GOD decided on the time, method and the place and He knew that this would be a standing stone moment, one that would be remembered and significant for Jacob. GOD is the same today! He knows when, where and the encounter that needs to happen. He knows us and speaks our language.
GOD tells Jacob that he is now adopted into the inheritance of his forefathers. Jacob’s response is one of awe. He says that he was not aware that GOD was in this place (v16), and ultimately in this place for him. Jacob therefore, makes a vow (v20) to the GOD that chooses to pour out the blessing on him. The stone that he used to rest his head on during the dream is then raised and stood up as a monument of the encounter and vow. The stone that Jacob raised was not just a stone, it would remind him of the dream, of GOD’s words and of his own vow to GOD. This first encounter with GOD was noteworthy.
This story, and even the image of a staircase is encouraging and gives hope. Staircases lead to new floors and levels and that is what an encounter with GOD can do. The in-between place cannot remain in-between if there is a staircase … it is just a landing!
I know that I need to remember what GOD has said and what He has done especially when I am in the in-between place. I raise ‘stone monuments’. These may look like a sticky note on my mirror, a journal entry or a recording of a particular preach. They can be as obscure as an image, song and piece of jewelry or can be as permanent as a tattoo! The important thing is that I remember the encounter, then I can allow it to continue to transform me, and reveal to me my adoptive status. When I consider these encounters, I remember that GOD remains the same.
So to end this post, a few challenges you might like to consider…
Take sometime out to seek GOD in the ‘place’ you are now, be it in a happy, sad, difficult or in-between place. Ask for an encounter that will transform you.
Spend some time remembering and reflecting on encounters with GOD in your own life. Ask yourself, am I still being affected by these encounters? If not, why not.
Are there any reminders that you can raise like stones?