"And Jacob sent and called Rachel and Leah to the field unto his flock, And said unto them, ‘I see your father's countenance, that it is not toward me as before; but the God of my father hath been with me. And ye know that with all my power I have served your father. And your father hath deceived me, and changed my wages ten times; but God suffered him not to hurt me.'"
Genesis 31: 4-7
King James Version
EXPLORATION "The God of Our Present"
Blessings Beyond Compare
"To those leaning on the sustaining Infinite, today is big with blessings."
How have God's blessings in the past, given me courage to face my challenges in the present?
"All the great blessings of my life, are present in my thoughts today."
"What a world this would be if we could forget our troubles as easily as we forget our blessings."
When my husband Jim and I were married 30 years ago, to say we had no money would be an understatement. Our parents warned us that we were embarking on a road that could be bumpy. While we both had jobs, they didn't pay a lot. Then the hammer fell. I had to have major surgery and it was the first and only time in my life when I had no medical insurance. The debt we faced was like a tidal wave. Jim was a very effective "budgeter" and so by watching every penny we spent we were able to chip away at the medical bills along with meeting our other monthly expenses. However, you know what happens! There's always something unexpected and for us it was a car repair on our only vehicle, a 1969 red Volkswagen Beetle. By the last week of the month, even with all our attempts at saving everything we could and going without any extras, we were short by $25 in our food budget. Now we knew we could ask our parents to help but we really wanted to be independent.
Even today, I can still remember Jim saying, "Let's give our situation to God. He knows how careful we have been." And so, two twenty-something-kids knelt down by a ragged old brown chair and prayed and laid our situation out before our King.
This story isn't going to end with me telling you that God helped us win the lottery and we bought a big fancy home because we won millions. This story, for Jim and me, had an even more miraculous ending. When Jim went to the mail box that day, there was a refund check from the telephone company for $30. I'd never heard of a refund from the telephone company before, but we got one. It was more money than we needed, more than we asked for. But what's more, that check was put in the mail days before we knew what problems we would encounter in the present.
I can't tell you how many times during the last 30 years, when faced with a "present" day challenge, Jim and I have looked at each other, smiled, and said, "The telephone refund!"
Our text for today contains one of those often skipped over Bible stories that should inspire our hearts to keep our confidence in God in the present. Why? First, because of how God has led us in our past. As one Christian writer, E. White so beautifully penned, "We have nothing to fear for the future except as we forget how God has led us in the past."
As our Scripture today tells us, for years Jacob had worked for Laban. And it was not a pleasant situation. Laban cheated Jacob by changing his wages 10 times. The shenanigans Laban came up with had to do with the color of the cattle. Laban said he would give Jacob all the speckled cattle. But when all the calves that were born were speckled, Laban changed and informed Jacob that now the "ring straked" cattle would be his. Laban's devious behavior came back on him for Jacob told Rachel and Leah, "Thus God hath taken away the cattle of your father, and given them to me" (Genesis 31: 9, K.J.V.).
The Bible tells us in Genesis 31: 11-13 (K.J.V.)… "And the angel of God spake unto me in a dream, saying, ‘Jacob: and I said, here am I. And I (God) have seen all that Laban doeth unto thee. I am the God of Bethel…." When you combine these verses with Genesis 31: 7 and Jacob's own words: "But God suffered (Laban) not to hurt me," I ask you, "What gave Jacob the ability to face the present with such hope?"
I'll tell you why Jacob could trust God to guide him every second of the present. It was because he had seen what God had done for him in the past and as Jacob walked in God's way, he saw how even the hand of a greedy Laban could not hurt him for God took care of Jacob's present needs before Jacob even knew he had a need! Don't you just love it! A Heavenly Father who is walking with us and watching us so carefully that as He has promised: "Before you call I will answer."
I don't have to fear my past. And I can enjoy the present because God has already made certain our needs will be met.
During the past week, as I have read each prayer request, many are requests for God's guidance in very uncomfortable and difficult job situations. So many people have shared stories of deceit and back stabbing on their jobs, making the work environment unpleasant and downrightly stressful. As I was studying about Jacob's situation with Laban, I thought how providential it is to have this story today.
I encourage you to take hope from Jacob who rather than trying to get even or join in the gamesmanship of Laban, trusted God to have the problem under His control, because you know what? God did have everything worked out - with speckled cattle, with family problems, and with Jacob's past, present and future!
God promises the same ability to unravel the tangles in your life as well. The past slate is wiped clean and our present has been taken care of by His loving hand. I love the way Jean Pierre de Caussade describes the confidence we can have that God is taking care of every present moment in our lives: "If you abandon all restraint, carry your wishes to the furthest limits, open your heart boundlessly, there is not a single moment when you will not find all you could possibly desire. The present moment holds Infinite riches beyond our wildest dreams."
This is exactly what Jacob found by trusting God. And it is what two crazy kids in love found out 30 years ago when God sent them a $30.00 check before they had even asked for His help!
"Blessings we enjoy daily, and for the most of them, because they be so common, (we) forget to pay their praises. But let not us, because it is a sacrifice so pleasing to Him who still protects us, and gives us flowers, and showers, and meat and content."
"May the everlasting Father
Himself take you
In His own generous clasp,
In His own generous arm.
May the everlasting Father
wherever you go."
Dorothy Valcarcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
For more from Dorothy, please visit transformationgarden.com.