Monday, September 13, 2010


It's sort of like déjà vu – but different. A woven moment occurs when events from your past converge in a single moment, weaving together an indelible new moment. Woven moments often happen during landmark events in our lives: weddings, funerals, reunions of all sorts. In the weeks and months leading up to our daughter's recent wedding, I experienced many woven moments, but one stands apart. One evening when Emily was home from college on Christmas break, we unearthed my twenty-six year-old wedding gown, broke open the sealed package, and she tried it on. Tears instantly sprang to my eyes. It was a woven moment. Memories of her dad's and my wedding bombarded me. And then I saw our little girl on her first day of kindergarten, her golden curls bouncing as she ran down the stairs with her sister. Then came those difficult teen years, rushing back in a cacophony of victory as I watched the love of Jesus now sparkle in her eyes. This new moment, forever etched in my mind, standing in my wedding gown. (A perfect fit, BTW – was I ever really that skinny?) Woven moments are most incredible because they aren't simply a one-time stitch – they're a lifetime tapestry. Less than six months later, I was blessed with another woven moment. My husband walked our daughter down a grassy aisle in her own wedding gown, a new moment added to the events that will weave into the next and next and next tapestry we share. God allows us to experience a little bit of Jacob's tapestry, Jacob‟s woven moments on his way to Bethel…

Gen. 35:1-3 – “Then God said to Jacob, 'Go up to Bethel and settle there, and build an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you were fleeing from your brother Esau.' So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, 'Get rid of the foreign gods you have with you, and purify yourselves and change your clothes. Then come, let us go up to Bethel, where I will build an altar to God, who answered me in the day of my distress and who has been with me wherever I have gone.'” (emphasis added)
  • Jacob is terrified that his sons' rash attack on Shechem will bring vengeance from the Canaanites – just as he feared Esau‟s vengeance 20+ years ago. Notice that Jacob addressed “his household” and “all who were with him.” He was staring into the faces of the Shechemite women and children that his sons took captive. His deceitful history and his sons‟ sins stared back at him. But he CHOSE to focus on God's promise rather than his own fear or failure. His woven moment is one of purposely, consciously remembering God's faithfulness and moving forward.
Gen. 35:4-8 – “So they gave Jacob all the foreign gods they had and the rings in their ears, and Jacob buried them under the oak at Shechem. Then they set out, and the terror of God fell upon the towns all around them so that no one pursued them. Jacob and all the people with him came to Luz (that is, Bethel) in the land of Canaan. There he built an altar, and he called the place El Bethel, because it was there that God revealed himself to him when he was fleeing from his brother. Now Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse, died and was buried under the oak below Bethel. So it was named Allon Bacuth.” (emphasis added)
  • Surely, in this collecting of ALL foreign gods, Rachel surrendered the household gods she had stolen from her father, Laban (Gen. 31:34). Was this the first Jacob knew of Rachel's thievery or idolatry? How would Rachel have felt about giving up the idols? Did it put a wedge between her and Jacob? Soon after arriving in Bethel, Jacob buried the woman who would have been his wet-nurse, Deborah – another strong female relationship in his life…strong enough to mention in the biblical record. Both the idols and Deborah were buried under oak trees. Though a spiritual victory for God at Shechem – overcoming idolatry – the personal turmoil for Jacob may have caused a few knots in this woven moment. Sometimes the best strategy for knot removal is simply to submit to the Master Weaver's hands and wait. Woven moments aren't always free of snags, but they can all be made beautiful by the Master.
Gen. 35:9-10 – “After Jacob returned from Paddan Aram, God appeared to him again and blessed him. God said to him, 'Your name is Jacob, but you will no longer be called Jacob; your name will be Israel.' So he named him Israel.”
  • God reminds Jacob that he is named, “Struggles with God.” Why? My guess is: Because Jacob was struggling with God. Let's face it, life's been hard. Dinah was raped. His sons just killed and captured an entire city of innocent people. And then Jacob's mother-figure (Deborah) died. Wouldn't you be struggling with God? So in this woven moment, God calls Jacob to recall the wrestling match on the riverbank of the Jabbok. And with the memory of struggle came a renewed assurance of blessing.
Gen. 35:11-15 – “And God said to him, 'I am God Almighty; be fruitful and increase in number. A nation and a community of nations will come from you, and kings will come from your body. The land I gave to Abraham and Isaac I also give to you, and I will give this land to your descendants after you.' Then God went up from him at the place where he had talked with him. Jacob set up a stone pillar at the place where God had talked with him, and he poured out a drink offering on it; he also poured oil on it. Jacob called the place where God had talked with him Bethel.”
  • How many times had Jacob heard his Grandfather Abraham tell the story of God's promise and calling? How many times had Isaac told Jacob of the Land promised to his descendants? Now, the same Almighty God speaks into this woven moment, a tapestry of history with a legacy that will stretch into eternity. The newly named Israel is forever woven into the fabric of his forefathers, the Promised Land and God's story. Just as we are woven into our own stories of family, experience and God's plan.
Lord, open my eyes to more woven moments so I can appreciate the Weaver's Hand. I want to hear Your voice and feel the assurance of your direction as Jacob did. Show me the past events that weave together my current moments into the delicate future You have so carefully planned for me. I want to walk in the beauty of Your very best, Father. Only Your best.

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