I was just thinking about the expression “you are what you eat.” This is obviously true nutrition-wise but what about shape? It seems to me that the friends I have who like to eat a lot of celery definitely look more like sticks of celery than the ones who love donuts. My concern after this Easter weekend is that some of my children could end up looking like Humpty Dumpty! Ha. I’m not sure the phrase is really about the shape of the food but we are definitely influenced by what we consume. If we feed ourselves on a diet of gossip magazines and trashy telly then that is what we will look like. If we are being nourished daily by God’s word, then He will use it to transform us into the image of His son.
I’ve always found this next story in Genesis fascinating – maybe it’s the farmer’s daughter in me? When I was a child my dad kept a herd of Jacob sheep for a while. The variety get their name from the fact that their fleeces are spotty and stripey – just like the sheep in today’s story.
Jacob, for all his faults, is a hard worker. He worked 7 years for Rachel only to end up with Leah. He then did another 7 years in payment for her once they were married. They obviously stayed with Laban a long time as Leah was popping out babies, so were Bilhah and Zilpah the servant girls, and eventually Rachel had Joseph. All this time Jacob worked for Laban and Laban prospered because God was with Jacob.
“After Rachel gave birth to Joseph, Jacob said to Laban, ‘Send me on my way so that I can go back to my own homeland. Give me my wives and children, for whom I have served you, and I will be on my way. You know how much work I’ve done for you.” Gen 30:25
But Laban doesn’t want to loose this hard working asset so they strike a deal. Jacob says that he will continue to work but in payment he wants to build his own herd. They agree that he can keep any sheep or goat that is spotty, streaked or speckled. Seems fair. But Jacob has a plan to strengthen and increase his pay.
“Jacob, however, took fresh-cut branches from poplar, almond and plane trees and made white stripes on them by peeling the bark and exposing the white inner wood of the branches. Then he placed the peeled branches in all the watering troughs, so that they would be directly in front of the flocks when they came to drink. When the flocks were in heat and came to drink, they mated in front of the branches. And they bore young that were streaked or speckled or spotted.” Gen 30:38-39
He then began only using this technique with the strongest sheep so that the healthiest animals had spotty, stripey and speckled lambs – and the weak sheep reproduced plain lambs. Jacobs herds grew and flourished – and Laban’s less so. I don’t think there is any scientific reason why this should work – but we do know that God had spoken to Jacob in a dream. God had seen how Laban had not been fair to Jacob and had taken advantage of him – so now God has Jacob’s back. As human beings we all do this – we are looking out for ourselves. But God sees sacrifice and honours us where we are taken for granted. Do not worry – He has your back.
Isn’t it interesting that the sheep reproduce what they see? What is in front of their eyes is what they give birth to. What they are focused on is the fruit that they bear. We have already talked about how we are shaped by what we consume but this story takes it even further – what we set before our eyes, what we behold, is what we will re-create. I want to fix my gaze on Jesus – to see more of His beauty and majesty. To see His power and love and compassion so that I reproduce that kind of fruit. That’s my prayer for you too this week.
“But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” 2 Cor 3:16-18
This was a fun page to journal as I found myself nursery-rhyming in my bible. So for now I’ll leave you with this;
Baa baa black-sheep, have you any spots?
Yes sir, yes sir, lots and lots!
When we were drinking we saw a spotty tree,
So we had spotty lambs because we make what we see!
Baa baa black-sheep, have you any streaks?
Yes sir, we are just what Jacob seeks.
All the strong sheep and all the strong goats,
Are being born with stripy coats!
Baa baa black-sheep, have you any speckles?
Yes sir, yes sir, we’re covered in freckles!
Because God told Jacob the plan,
He has become a very rich man!
Much love Rach x