“And it came to pass, when Rachel had born Joseph, that Jacob said unto Laban, ‘Send me away, that I may go unto mine own place, and to my country. Give me my wives and my children, for whom I have served thee, and let me go: for thou knowest my service which I have done thee.’”
Genesis 30: 25,26
King James Version
"A Home of Your Own”
“One is never got out of the cave, one comes out of it.”
Is there a situation in my life where I need to follow God’s direction yet I allow others to bind me to my past?
“The past is strapped to our backs. We do not have to see it; we can always feel it.”
“What a father says to his children is not heard by the world, but it will be heard by posterity.”
John Paul Richter
I think most of us, who have left our parents’ homes and have decided to strike out on our own course in life can remember that day very well. For me, it was the day my parents dropped me off for college summer school near San Francisco at the age of 17. I’d never lived away from home before. Although my residence was a college dormitory, during the summer months, the students were allowed to come and go with a great deal of freedom. However, I felt free as a bird. I didn’t have a car. My best friend’s older brother did, so it seemed there was always someone available to take us to San Francisco or to the beautiful beach in Bodega Bay or to the park in Sausalito which, on the weekends, was, at that time, filled with “flower children,” whom some called jean-clad hippies. We fit in perfectly and our vision of a better world often clouded the reality that many of the kids we met were terribly lost and lonely souls.
Fortunately, my independent wanderings never meandered into the drug world that ended up trapping some of my friends.
Independence. Freedom. Self-sufficiency.
All of us, at some point in our lives want to feel that we can be on our own. That we can stand on our own two feet and support ourselves.
This is exactly what happened to Jacob. If we remember, the reason Jacob came to Laban’s home in the first place, was that he was fleeing his angry brother, Esau, who had threatened to kill him for stealing the family birthright. Frankly, Jacob was in a very dependent position when he met Laban. Not a great place to be when you are dealing with a “user” like Laban who was more than willing and adept at taking advantage of a person who was in Jacob’s position. And, take advantage, is just what Laban did. He took advantage, first, of Jacob’s blinding love for Rachel. In the process, Laban got rid of two daughters. Today, our text in Genesis, offers an even more expansive view of how Laban used Jacob.
It is apparent, that the deceptive art of substituting Leah for Rachel on Jacob’s wedding night and then Leah’s subsequent ability to bear Jacob one son after another while Rachel was infertile, became such a point of contention that Jacob’s household was in constant turmoil. With a fighting household, Jacob decided not to add more confusion and stress to the situation.
But something dramatic happened to change things. Rachel became pregnant and had a baby named Joseph. This one dramatic event turned everything upside down. Rachel now felt as though her life was worthwhile. Her “envy” of her fertile sister, Leah, was tempered. In Jacob’s eyes, Rachel had always been first, but now she felt she had more than just her beauty and shape to move her to the top spot. She had a baby, and to Rachel, this became a huge ego-booster.
From the Biblical record during this time, it appears that things around Jacob’s family compound became more harmonious and he finally began to think about his past – the past that made his leaving home necessary and the roots of the past, his family heritage, that drew him home, to a place of his own.
Jacob decided to go to Laban and ask for his portion of the cattle and his wives and family. He wanted to go home. And again, we see Mr. Greed, Laban, throwing up roadblocks.
Here’s the excuse Laban uses this time to Jacob: “And Laban said unto him (Jacob), ‘I pray thee, if I have found favour in thine eyes, tarry: for I have learned by experience that the Lord hath blessed me for thy sake” (Genesis 30: 27, K.J.V.). Can you believe it? First, Laban flatters Jacob, whom he has treated like a slave, and then he says, “I’ve gotten rich by your hand because God blesses you, so stay.” This isn’t an, “I’m going to miss you or I love you speech,” this is pure greed. It is as if Jacob has become Laban’s lucky charm and Laban didn’t want to lose his bankroll.
However, before we criticize Laban the leech, let’s look deeply into our own hearts to see how often we have hung onto things and people in our own lives for very selfish reasons. If it is a person, have we held onto them for how they help us or make us feel, when in fact, we need to let them express their own independence and individuality? And when it comes to possessions, do we grab them and clutch them because they give us a sense of importance or power?
In the end, Laban was so possessive, in a most greedy way, that Jacob and his wives, had to sneak away at night in order to get out from under the iron clutches of this man. Robert Benson notes that “Individuals cannot cohere closely unless they sacrifice something of their individuality.” While not always having our own way can teach us great lessons on unselfishness, sacrificing one’s self, as Jacob did, for his greedy father-in-law’s selfish desires, not only hurt him but his family, as well.
And so, Jacob, knowing he might have to face some of his own demons from the past, took the bold move to take his family back to the land of his ancestors, the land promised by God.
“The courage to be is the courage to
accept oneself as accepted in spite of
“Grant me, O Lord, to know what is worth knowing,
to love what is worth loving,
to praise what delights you most,
to value what is precious to you,
and to reject whatever is evil in your eyes.
Give me true discernment,
so that I may judge rightly between things that differ.
Above all, may I search out and do
what is pleasing to you;
through Jesus Christ my Lord.”
Thomas á Kempis
Dorothy Valcarcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
For more from Dorothy, please visit transformationgarden.com.