Daily Devotional for Small Group Discussion: No Matter Who
- How do you respond to the story of God’s commitment to a con man?
- When have you criticized God’s commitment to others who seemed undeserving of grace (perhaps even yourself)?
- How does the author’s observation—that God’s faithfulness is stronger than patriarchal dysfunction—give you hope for the world today?
The Lord stood beside Jacob and said, “Know that I am with you and will keep you wherever you go; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised.” – Genesis 28:13-15 abridged (NRSV)
Jacob was born into the biblical family that started it all. It was his grandfather Abraham with whom God made the covenant, promising to bless him and his descendants forever.
But Jacob, whose name means, roughly, “con man,” was not big on promises. He was a double-dealer from the womb. He even stole the blessing that would’ve made his older twin, Esau, the family head and bearer of the covenant. That was brazen, even for Jacob.
Esau’s enraged, so Jacob runs. One night he camps in a strange land. Tucking a .22 under his pillow—well, a rock, but the biggest rock he can find—he sleeps the fitful sleep of a bad conscience. He dreams of an escalator to heaven, angels riding up and down, God at the top. The God he cheated and deceived.
But God’s faithfulness is stronger than patriarchal dysfunction. “I keep the covenant no matter who bears it,” God tells him. “That would be you, Jacob. It’ll take you 20 more years to grow up, but I’ll be with you until we have a wrestling match, and you decide to have some integrity. I’ll still be with you when you change your name to Israel, and finally get a life that does somebody some good.”
Lent’s a time for examining our souls. If, as you examine yours, you worry that you’ll never straighten out, never do anyone any good, that God can’t love or use you because you’re a hot mess of needs and wounds—take heart! The God who turned a Jacob into an Israel isn’t going to have any trouble with you. No trouble at all.
It might take 20 more years, Faithful One, but you can do it. You can make me yours. Even me.
Mary Luti is a long time seminary educator and pastor, author of Teresa of Avila’s Way and numerous articles, and founding member of The Daughters of Abraham, a national network of interfaith women’s book groups.