Jacob’s Story


Who will love me?
Jacob was a man from the Bible who knew what it was like to be “labeled.”  You see, Jacob’s name meant deceiver or liar.  Obviously, he didn’t do anything to deserve that name as a child.  It was unfair.  It didn’t make sense.  But it was his reality.  From the very beginning, Jacob was set up to fail.

Jacob had a twin brother Esau, who was his Dad’s favorite.  Jacob was constantly compared to his “more successful” brother.  He felt like nothing he could do was ever good enough for his Dad.  Jacob longed to have his Father’s blessing, his approval, his love.

One time, as a young man, Jacob’s mom, Rebekah overheard her husband Issac saying to Esau he wanted to bless him.  Now God had given Rebekah a promise earlier that Jacob would receive the blessing instead…not Esau.  Things weren’t working out the way they were supposed to.  So Rebekah thought she better help God out and devised her own plan.  She fixed her husband’s meal “just the way he liked it” and even disguised Jacob as Esau so he could get the blessing instead.  His mom knew how to control and manipulate her husband in order to get what she wanted.

At this point, Jacob was just following orders.  He did what his mother told him.  He never said “no,” asked too many questions, or set appropriate boundaries for himself.  He just blindly followed his mother’s lead.  Jacob was being set up to fail.

When Jacob took the meal into his father Issac, his dad asked him point blank, “Are you Esau?”

And then … Jacob lied.

He said, “I am.”  His dad was suspicious and would ask questions, but each time Jacob lied.  Despite Issac’s hesitation, he went ahead and blessed him anyway.  When Esau came back and realized what had happened, he was furious.  He wanted to kill him.  He said to his dad, “Isn’t he rightly named Jacob, because he had deceived me two times.”

Notice he didn’t say “ALL the time” — just two times.  It’s interesting to note that Jacob was labeled for the rest of his life, based on only two mistakes!

At this point in the story, Jacob Embraced the Lie.  He became what other people said about him.  He became the lie.

Jacob flees to his Uncle Laban’s house to get away from his brother who wants to kill him for his mistake.  That is when Jacob meets Rachel.  It was love at first sight.  Jacob works 7 years to win her hand in marriage, but the Bible says to him it “felt like only a few days.”  But on his wedding night, Laban tricks Jacob and gives him the older, less desirable sister Leah instead.  When Jacob wakes up the next morning, there was Leah.

Jacob was mad.  He asks Laban, “Why did you deceive me?”  Laban makes some excuses and then offers him Rachel too if he commits to working another 7 years for her.  Now all of a sudden, the tables are turned.  The very thing Jacob did to others is now happening to him.  God allows Jacob to suffer the consequences of his deceit.  For the first time, he realizes how painful it is to be on the receiving end of something you don’t deserve.

After the agreed upon time was up, Jacob longs to go back home to see his family.  He tries to voice his concerns to Uncle Laban, but Laban talks him out of it.  He ends up staying another 6 years in an unhealthy working environment because he is too afraid to stand up for himself and say what he really needs.  It says in the Bible, that Laban changed his wages 10 times!  We get the picture that Jacob was overworked and taken advantage of.  He was treated unfairly.  Jacob hates where he is at but is too scared to make a change.

[Have you ever felt that way?  What are you afraid of?]

All the while, God sees the injustice and God blesses Jacob.  He allows Jacob to go through the struggles without bailing him out.  But he uses the struggles to teach Jacob something about himself…something about God.

By this point Jacob has lots of stuff.  He has the wife of his dreams, lots of children.  He has accumulated large numbers of flocks.  In the world’s eyes, he has anything he could ever want.  But nothing seems to satisfy him.  He is constantly striving, looking for something more.  Even after getting all this stuff, he still feels empty on the inside.

He thought those things would satisfy him, but it was NEVER ENOUGH.

 Have you ever wanted something so bad that after you get it, it doesn’t satisfy you?  You still feel empty on the inside, like you are missing something?

Finally, God has to give Jacob a good kick in the pants to get him moving along.  He says to Jacob,  “It is TIME.  GO HOME!”

God didn’t have to tell Jacob twice, because Jacob was so miserable at this point, that he knew he had to make a change.  But Jacob was still afraid.  He didn’t want to have to tell Uncle Laban that he was leaving for fear that he would be talked out of his decision again.  So Jacob runs away, sneaks out during the night.

You can see that Jacob has a lot of FEAR in his life.

Whenever Jacob is “triggered” by fear, he reverts back to what is FAMILIAR.  Telling lies is easier than SPEAKING UP for himself and ASKING for what he NEEDS.  RUNNING AWAY  is easier than CONFRONTING his FEAR.

But this time, God doesn’t let Jacob get away with it.  Laban catches up to him and confronts him.  For the first time, Jacob tells Uncle Laban how he REALLY feels.  He says, “I was afraid.”  Both Esau and Laban are strong men and Jacob felt threatened by them.  Then all the years of ANGER that Jacob had bottled up inside him, starts to come to the surface.  Jacob lets Laban have it.  He unloads.  Jacob confronts Laban for all the years he mistreated him and how it made him feel.  He says, “This is how I lived for 20 years!  And if it weren’t for God, surely you would have sent me away empty-handed.”  Laban returns home.

Jacob continues his journey home.  He prepares himself to FACE HIS GREATEST FEAR, his brother Esau.

Then Jacob gets word that, “Esau is coming and has 400 men with him!”  Jacob is afraid.  It says in the Bible that, “In great fear and distress, Jacob comes up with a plan.”  [Remind you of his mom, Rebekah?]  Jacob tries to take matters into his own hands and devise a plan to get him out of the mess he’s made.

But then, Jacob STOPS … and prays.  “Wait a minute, Lord.  I can’t do this anymore.  Something has got to change.  I need YOUR help.”  In other words, Jacob realizes that the way he has been living his life hasn’t worked so good, he needs a change of plan.  He ASKS FOR GOD’S HELP.

Jacob sends everyone away so that he can be alone with God.  Then Jacob reflects back on his life and remembers all the times when God was there for him.  He realizes how unworthy he is of God’s GRACE.  He expresses his fears to God and is honest about what he needs.  “God SAVE ME, I pray.  For I AM AFRAID.”

Jacob WRESTLES with God.

 All of us must come to this point sometime within our lives.  A crossroads where we must choose between two opposite paths.  A crises of our faith.  Will we TRUST God with our lives and SURRENDER ourselves to his care, or will we go our own way and do our own thing, thinking we can do it better than God.

It says in the Bible that a man (like an angel) wrestled with Jacob until daybreak.

Jacob tells the man, “I will not let you go until you BLESS ME.”  [Jacob is still searching for love and acceptance.]

The man asks Jacob, “What is YOUR NAME?”  In a single moment, God gets to the root of our pain and insecurity and striving.

Because Jacob was labeled as a child, he must have known what his name meant and longed to be NOTICED for something different.  At that moment, all the Hurt and Memories associated with his name –the “LABELS”–flood back into his mind.  I’m sure Jacob must have thought to himself, “Did you have to bring that up?  Why does everyone always bring up all my mistakes?”

But Jacob replies, “I AM Jacob.”  In other words, Jacob was confessing to God, “You’re right God, I AM a Deceiver.”  Jacob ADMITS his MISTAKES and TAKES RESPONSIBILITY for his ACTIONS.  He doesn’t BLAME anyone else for what he has become.

The man says to Jacob, “Your name will NO LONGER be called Jacob, but Israel.  Because you have STRUGGLED and OVERCOME.”  And then he blessed him.

God knew Jacob needed a NAME CHANGE.

 I can hear God saying, “You are not who you used to be.  You are not what others say about you.  You are not even what you say to yourself.

You are what I say you are.  You are a new creation.  I have given you a new IDENTITY.  And I love you.”

This ONE DEFINING MOMENT WITH GOD changed everything!

 What is it that other people have labeled you as?

Allow God to give you a new name.  Significance can only be found in God.  Only He can truly satisfy you.  He is ENOUGH.

Jacob still had some unfinished business to take care of.  He still had to face his greatest fear, his brother Esau, and ASK FORGIVENESS for what he had done.  He couldn’t ignore it or escape his problem.  No one could do it for him.  He had to FACE HIS FEAR and  DO IT AFRAID!

When his brother Esau saw him, he ran to meet him and embrace him.  Jacob said, “Seeing your face is like seeing the hand of God.”  In other words, ONLY GOD could have turned this mess around.

All along, Jacob WANTED his earthly father’s blessing, but all he really NEEDED was his Heavenly Father’s blessing.  He needed to know that God loved him and accepted him just the way he was — faults and all.

 God is the GOD OF IMPERFECT PEOPLE.

He is the God of the broken hearted,

  • the misjudged
  • the taken advantage of
  • the overlooked
  • the fearful
  • those searching for something more
  • those who still fail and make mistakes

God, send someone to love me?

God did.  God sent himself.  Because He knew that no one could love us the way we really needed to be loved.

“I will love you for you.  Not for what you have done or what you will become.   I will give you a love you never knew.”  (JJ Heller in her song, “What Love Really Means”)

A closer look…

Esau

The Bible portrays Esau as a man who lived for the here and now.  He had little regard for the consequences his actions or how those actions affected others, including himself.  He was driven by his appetite, his passions. He would stop at nothing to get what he wanted.

Jacob

Jacob, on the other hand, was quiet.  He worked behind the scenes to control and manipulate others in order to get what he wanted.  He didn’t see “bending the truth” a little bit a problem.  Lying was easier than asking for what he needed.  He lived in constant fear of others and rarely voiced his opinion.

Leah

Leah had one week with her husband, before Rachel moved in.  God saw that Leah was not loved, so he gave her many sons.  Each time she gave birth to another son, Leah thought to herself, “This time my husband will notice me.  Surely he will love me now.”  Each time she was met with disappointment.  She always felt like the “other woman” in Jacob’s life.  She couldn’t compete with her more beautiful sister Rachel.  Eventually she gave up hoping that anything would change.  She always felt second best.  But God saw Leah … and loved her.

So WHO ARE YOU in this story?  Which person can you relate to?

Are you like Issac?

  • Do you second guess your instinct and end up believing lies despite your better judgement?

Are you like Rebekah?

  • Are you impatient with God’s timing and God’s promises?
  • When things aren’t going fast enough or according to your plan, do you take matters into your own hands and control and manipulate others in order to get your way?

 Are you like Leah?

  • Do you feel neglected and unloved by someone close to you?
  • How do you strive for attention?  How do you get others to “notice” you?
  • Have you resigned yourself to the way things are and given up hope that things will ever change?
  • Do you secretly feel “unloveable”, like something is wrong with you and you long to be loved unconditionally?

 Are you like Esau?

  • Are you ruled by your appetite (your passions), your desire for more no matter the cost?
  • Do you live for the here an now, regardless of the consequences and blame others for your poor choices?
  • Do you realize what you  are doing is wrong?  Do you even care?

 Are you like Jacob?

  • Do you feel overlooked and mistreated, taken advantage of by others?
  • Do you feel empty on the inside, like you are missing something?  How do you fill the void?
  • Are you afraid to stand up for yourself and tell others how you really feel?
  • Are you secretly angry at those who mistreat you, but you continue to stay in unhealthy relationships and in unhealthy environments because you are too afraid to take steps to change?
  • Is it easier to run away from your problems than to face them?
  • Do you believe what others say about you thinking to yourself that is just the way I am?
  • Do you lie?

MAP TO RECOVERY

There are several things we can learn from the story of Jacob that will help us in our own lives.  God gives us a “map to our recovery.”

  1.  Face the Consequences of our Sin
  2.  Admit Mistakes.  Take Responsibility for Actions.  (I am Jacob.  I am a Deceiver.)
  3. Ask for God’s Help.
  4.  Let Go (Things that Hinder Us).  Take a Step in Right Direction.
  5.  Allow Yourself to Feel Your Pain.  Express that Pain.  Tell YOUR STORY.
  6.  Make Amends where Needed.  Ask for Forgiveness.
  7.  Get to the Root Problem of your Pain.  Expose the Lies (What is Your Name?)

What is YOUR STORY?

I know a boy…

As a little boy, other kids called him names.  They labeled him.  Called him names like “stupid”.  Or they would say things like, “You will never amount to anything.”  The teachers said it was dyslexia.  But all he knew was that his brain didn’t function like everyone else’s.  Somehow he was different — and different was “bad”.  Kids would poke fun at him, bully him.

He’d come home from school crying to his dad and tell him all the bad things that happened.  You would think his Dad would pick him up tenderly and wipe his tears away and tell him everything would be OK.  But his Dad was a military dad — a Marine.  He would tell his son things like, “Big boys don’t cry.”  Because his parents didn’t know what to do, they just ignored it — as if nothing happened.

The little boy learned to hide his emotions, stuff his feelings and HIS TEARS deep inside him.  He made a vow to himself — that he would never let anyone see him cry or make fun of him again.  But in order to stop the tears, he had to stop the pain.  So he learned ways to numb his pain.

That little boy grew up and became a man.  He got married and had kids and everything looked great on the outside.  But deep inside, the wounds and scars from his past pain kept resurfacing.  And he would wonder, “What’s wrong with me?”  “Why do I feel so empty on the inside?”

This little boy needs to know,

“Who will love me for me?  God send someone to love me.”  (JJ Heller in her song, “What Love Really Means”)

I know a girl…

As a little girl she was extremely shy.  In fact, people didn’t even know she existed.  She  began to think she had no value.  When she became a teenager, she got involved in extra-curricular activities.  To her surprise, she excelled at them.  People started to notice her.  She learned that as long as she was successful at what she did, people would like her.

This little girl grew up and became a stay-at-home-mom.  As long as she crossed things off her “To Do” list — she felt good about herself, like she had accomplished something.  But if she hadn’t crossed everything off her list — she felt bad, like a failure.  No one complimented her for her hard work at home.  She felt unnoticed.

When she was alone with her thoughts, she felt like a failure.  Like she wasn’t ENOUGH.  She would often say to herself, “What’s wrong with me?”  “Why can’t I get my act together?”  All the time, she kept busy to avoid the deep pain she felt inside.  The voices in her head kept repeating the same message.  You have no value.  Nobody really cares.

This little girl needs to know,

“Who will love me for me?  God send someone to love me.”  (JJ Heller in her song, “What Love Really Means”)

Just like Jacob, we understand what it is like to be “labeled.”  Those messages that we hear over and over again in our heads are clues to help us identify those areas that still need God’s healing touch.  Allow God to get to the root of your pain.  Identify the lies you’ve believed and recognize how those lies have played out in your life.  Remember… God loves you.  He has a good plan for your life.  Allow Him to give you a new IDENTITY and a new PURPOSE for living.  Only God can love you the way you were meant to be loved.  Only God can satisfy you.  Heis ENOUGH.