Monday, July 19, 2010


Have you ever wondered how you would respond in an emergency? Maybe you've already been tested in some way, put through the ringer when pressures were high. I often think of stories like Anne Frank and Corrie ten Boom, kept hidden from Nazis by those who were willing – and able – to calmly lie when tensions soared. But my greatest fear is this. Can I tell the truth when tensions are high? So far, I've noticed my first instinct is to lie. Ugh. A telemarketer calls, and asks if I have a moment to talk. I say, “No, I'm getting ready to walk out the door.” Does it matter that my appointment isn't for 2 hours? Okay, that's not an emergency, but my first inclination is still to lie. How about this…my husband was checking the water valve connection behind the refrigerator. He asked me to help him slide the frig. back into place, but first, he needed to check that the water hose wasn't kinked. He bent down, and I pushed ever-so-slightly against the frig. to see how heavy it was. The stupid thing moved, and Roy jerked his hand away from the wheels.

“Are you moving the refrigerator?” he yelled. “My hand was back there!”

My immediate answer? “No! Of course, not!”

Okay, think about it. How else did the frig. move? We're the only two people in the stinkin' house! Duh. But I barely touched it, and I didn't know it was on wheels, and it moved less than ¼ inch…but still…I moved it. Ugh. So I had to back-pedal. “Well, yes, actually, I, um, well…” So how do you respond in the heat of the moment?

Gen. 31:22-24 – “On the third day Laban was told that Jacob had fled. Taking his relatives with him, he pursued Jacob for seven days and caught up with him in the hill country of Gilead. Then God came to Laban the Aramean in a dream at night and said to him, 'Be careful not to say anything to Jacob, either good or bad.'”
  • Jacob with 4 wives and 11 of his own children (not counting servants and their children) covered 300 miles in 10 days. No McDonalds. No Holiday Inns. Tents, campfires, camels, herds and flocks. And it took Laban 7 days to catch them – 7 days of rage building. In the heat of the moment, God stepped in before Laban could harm His chosen Covenant-bearer. Many commentators believe God's direction to “not say anything to Jacob, good or bad” meant that Laban shouldn't try to persuade Jacob to return to Haran using bribery or threats. The important thing is – God isn't limited to speak only to those who serve Him. He can protect His children even from those who don't recognize God as the True God.
Gen. 31:25-30 – “Jacob had pitched his tent in the hill country of Gilead when Laban overtook him, and Laban and his relatives camped there too. Then Laban said to Jacob, 'What have you done? You've deceived me, and you've carried off my daughters like captives in war. Why did you run off secretly and deceive me? Why didn't you tell me, so I could send you away with joy and singing to the music of tambourines and harps? You didn't even let me kiss my grandchildren and my daughters good-by. You have done a foolish thing. I have the power to harm you; but last night the God of your father said to me, “Be careful not to say anything to Jacob, either good or bad.” Now you have gone off because you longed to return to your father's house. But why did you steal my gods?'” (emphasis added)
  • Even in the heat of the moment, Laban mixes truth with lies – because deception is mired so deeply into his character. Imagine the highly charged emotions of this scene. Imagine the fear in Jacob and his wives/children. Imagine the anger/frustration in Laban at being duped and then kept from vengeance by a God not even his own. And finally, imagine that the only gods you think you can rely on have just been stolen by the one person who has taken everything else you value.
Gen. 31:31-32 – “Jacob answered Laban, 'I was afraid, because I thought you would take your daughters away from me by force. But if you find anyone who has your gods, he shall not live. In the presence of our relatives, see for yourself whether there is anything of yours here with me; and if so, take it.' Now Jacob did not know that Rachel had stolen the gods.”
  • Jacob was painfully honest in the heat of this moment. Fear was his motivation for their stealth departure. And in his moment of righteousness, he makes a rash promise based in pride…and it could have gotten his most beloved wife killed.
Gen. 31:33-35 – “So Laban went into Jacob's tent and into Leah's tent and into the tent of the two maidservants, but he found nothing. After he came out of Leah's tent, he entered Rachel's tent. Now Rachel had taken the household gods and put them inside her camel's saddle and was sitting on them. Laban searched through everything in the tent but found nothing. Rachel said to her father, 'Don't be angry, my lord, that I cannot stand up in your presence; I'm having my period.' So he searched but could not find the household gods.”
  • In the heat of the moment, Rachel panicked and lied. Her life depended on it, and she'd seen the deceptive game her father and husband had played for twenty years. Why wouldn't she lie? But does the prevalence of deceit make deceit acceptable?
Gen. 31:36-37 – “Jacob was angry and took Laban to task. 'What is my crime?' he asked Laban. 'What sin have I committed that you hunt me down? Now that you have searched through all my goods, what have you found that belongs to your household? Put it here in front of your relatives and mine, and let them judge between the two of us.'”
  • Okay, Jake. A little over-the-top on the self-righteousness? Aren't you the one that swindled your hungry brother out of his birthright? Aren't you the one that deceived your blind, old dad? And BTW, if Rachel hadn't lied, you'd be digging her grave about now. No matter how righteous we seem to ourselves or others, we are never pure enough to tout our own holiness – not when we serve the Servant Savior, the Almighty God of grace.
Lord, my heart, my head and my tongue can run away with me in the heat of the moment. I can say, think, feel and do all sorts of things I'll later regret. Please, Prince of Peace, give me the trueness of spirit to act and react with a steadfastness born of a life lived in Your presence.

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