Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God. Genesis 28:20-21
Jacob just had a dream where he saw the heavens open and angels were going up and coming down. God spoke to him and introduced Himself as the God of Abraham and Isaac, but He never added, “And I am the God of Jacob, your God, too.” The relationship hadn’t become personal yet. Maybe Jacob lived wondering if God would be with him as He was with his father. After wrestling with the angel of the Lord, Jacob needed to know where he stood with God and so he made this bargain. ‘If you will be with me, preserve me, provide for me, and bring me home again to the family I just injured beyond repair, then I’ll know that you’re my God.’
Jacob knew he couldn’t go forward on second-hand faith, and I cannot exist on it either. Coasting on a family member’s encounter with God doesn’t automatically alter the course of my life. I once believed it would. I was around some iconic men of God. I heard their stories of spiritual conquest. I read biographies of spiritual giants and was momentarily stirred through their adventures. Though I learned a lot (just like Jacob who grew up in the house of a patriarch), I was the quiet one in the company of those who gave stunning testimonies. God was not present in my mostly faithless life because I’d never put Him to the test for myself.
God would intersect my story in a powerful way. I would encounter a series of crises that would cast me into powerless positions. I would choose to trust Him for myself and discover that He is not only a kind Father but a promise-giving God who delights to reveal Himself in a personal way, relating in ways that are specific to me. As our relationship has grown and deepened, the customized language He speaks still makes my heart beat faster.
I have a long testimony now. I’m so glad my heart is still spilling over with wonder. Amen