"Jacob left Beersheba for Harran. When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep." - Genesis 28:10-11
Running from reckonings is what we do. But they breathe down our necks anyway. One day, if we're lucky, we'll come to a place where we face them. That's the 'certain place' Jacob has come to.
He's on the lam. Esau's out there, closing in. Facing up is on the horizon. And Jacob will have to do it alone. Or so he fears as he makes camp and takes for his pillow the biggest rock he can find. So he fears as he drifts into the fitful sleep of a guilty conscience, fingers curled around that stone.
Then he dreams, angels ascending and descending. For once truly awake, he announces, "This is a God-place! I didn't know."
Neither do we, usually—too scared to perceive, too guilty to believe. But Jacob helps us. He sets up the stone of fear as a monument to Presence, a sign that certain places are not God-forsaken. He's not alone, and neither are we.
The world teems with testaments to unexpected gifts received, countless pointers left by countless Jacobs mark the route from rage to reconciliation, despair to hope, estrangement to embrace. You yourself have left at least one behind.
I want you to know I saw it, the cairn you built for some other runner from reckonings. The one that tells her a fear place is a God-place, heaven just a ladder-length away. I saw it.
No, I didn't know you could be in such a place, but help me show others, now that I do.
Mary Luti is Interim Senior Pastor, Wellesley Village Church, Wellesley, Massachusetts.