At my husband's senior awards banquet, the seminary president announced a new award. He held up a gold-plated mahogany plaque and said, “I'd like to award our first-ever Helping Hands award to Mesu Andrews.” I nearly choked on my salad. Me? I walked up to the podium, shook his hand and reached for the glimmering mahogany. “And we'd also like to give you another little token of our appreciation,” he said, reaching behind the lectern. He pulled out a sweatshirt with our seminary's name embroidered on it.
“A SWEATSHIRT!” I nearly threw the glistening plaque on a nearby table, reaching for the folded gray fleece and clutched it to my chest. The audience laughed nervously, and I realized how silly I appeared making gah-gah eyes over a sweatshirt, when the president had just honored me for a meaningful campus ministry.
He graciously chuckled and said, “Well, Mesu has always been more on the practical side.” He affirmed that I had made the cut – done well, overcome a tough situation and made a contribution to others. But I knew in my heart that I had totally missed the point. All my efforts to serve were just a frantic attempt to fill my need for community. But God in His grand plan used my little acts to fill others' needs. Sometimes my little eyes see only my immediate concerns, but God's big ideas are beyond my comprehension…
Gen. 28:10-15 – “Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Haran. When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. There above it stood the LORD , and he said: 'I am the LORD , the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.'”
- Be Jacob for a moment. You've just deceived your father and are fleeing for your life from your enraged brother (who happens to be very good at hunting prey). God speaks to you in a dream about His connection with your grandfather, Abraham, and your father, Isaac. He promises you blessing and descendants beyond number. YOU'VE MADE THE CUT! Now, what is your reaction? Can you move beyond the immediate concern and see the bigger picture, or are you stuck in the here and now?
- Okay, you have a dream like that, and you get a promise from God like THAT, and your first response is, “How awesome is THIS PLACE?” You're kidding me. Jacob may have made the cut, but he missed the point. Where is the praise for God? The thanksgiving for God's promise? The awe at God's grace and forgiveness? Let's give Jacob a little grace for being dazed and afraid after such a vivid dream, but let‟s learn from his “duh” moment to keep our focus on the Giver of blessing, not the blessings alone.
- Okay, Jake, first of all, God already PROMISED to be with you, so why say “if God will be with me?” Secondly, why vow to give Him a tenth IF He brings Jacob back to Isaac's house? God already promised that, too! Why do we qualify our obedience on God's faithfulness when God can ONLY be faithful, and we can NEVER be perfectly obedient? Jacob – like you and me – has already made the cut, already been accepted by God. THAT'S the point – but he's missing it. Jacob still thinks they're in negotiations! God doesn't want Jacob's tenth. He wants ALL of Jacob – and all of us – because He gave us all of Himself.