I'm glad he's God of both Jacob and me

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Psalm 81 tells us to "shout to the God of Jacob."

I like it that God calls himself the "God of Jacob" instead of the "God of Israel." Jacob means "deceiver," and he is the ultimate co artist in the book where that kind of chicanery isn't in vogue.

Jacob was slick. He had to get out of town fast after he pulled the wool over his daddy Isaac's eyes and stole his brother Esau's blessing. He didn't have the guts to stay and face the music because Esau wasn't singing "We Are Family" or "Peace in the Valley." Esau was singing snatches of "Let Me Take You Higher" to his thieving little brother.

I suspect many of us relate to Jake the Snake. A lot of days I feel kind of like the clothes I leave in the dryer several days -- clean but wrinkled. I know God washes me with the blood of Jesus and makes me clean, but I'm awfully aware of my wrinkles.

I suspect I look mighty wrinkled when I'm standing in the eternal checkout line from hell, and I know I get major wrinkles in my voice when a telephone solicitor calls. I confess, too, that I must be addicted to garage sales because when I'm driving along and see a sale sign, I'll cut across two lanes of traffic to stop just in case God wants to bless me with a bargain.

You don't call that addiction? MercyÉ mercy!

Yep, I'm glad my God's the God of Jacob, the young, conniving deceiver. In fact, God stayed with Jacob when he showed up at his uncle Laban's door looking for a job, a place to stay and a wife. Uncle Laban provided all three, but with some strings attached. Laban must have watched too much Celebrity Poker Showdown and figured he had the winning hand of flocks and his daughter Rachel to keep Jacob's interest. But Uncle Laban couldn't win because Jacob always had God up his sleeve.

Twenty years, two wives, their fertile handmaids and a passel of kids later, Jacob was ready to try to reconnect with family. Actually, the Bible doesn't say Jacob got homesick. Laban was tired of losing at the poker game he created, and Jacob figured he'd worn out his 20-year welcome because he'd outsmarted his uncle too many times.

You know the story in Genesis 31-33, how Jacob wrestles all night with God, he'll walk with a limp the rest of his life, Esau's heart has changed, and Jacob's able to live in peace near his brother. The Bible says because Jacob struggles with God and with men and prevails that God renames him Israel, meaning "prince with God."

Later on in his book, God could have always called himself the God of later-in-life, learned-his-lesson, ain't-misbehavin' Israel. Instead, he often refers to himself as the God of Jacob.

So, my friend, no matter where you are, what you've done, and what you are in life, God's willing to call himself your God. Yes, Satan's been keeping a scorecard on you so he can kick your miserable backside in front of God's throne someday and say, "I'm holding the winning hand against this one. This sucker's mine!"

But God's just going to smile then, take the damning, less-than-wrinkle-free record of your life, toss it in his handy-dandy heavenly paper shredder, and say, "No, schmucky devil, the kid's mine. He may not have lived such a perfect life, but he gave me his heart and he's still accepting Jesus' death on the cross for his sins. Like Jacob, he had me up his sleeve."

I'm glad he's the God of all us Jacobs.

June Seabaugh is a member of Christ Church of the Heartland in Cape Girardeau.

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