Jacob Moments

Genesis 28:10-19
Surely the LORD is in this place--and I did not know it! - Jacob

“The adventure starts here,” the sign said. There are points in our lives where we step way outside our comfort zone and begin something new. I have to confess that I never liked that word, “comfort zone.” I like to think of myself as being both flexible and reasonable, constantly adapting to changing situations, like an eagle seeking out the rising current. Actually, I’m more like a clam. I bed myself down in the mud of the things that I have always found easy to do. I demand mediocrity, both from myself and my breakfast food. There have been points in my life – and I only see this looking back—when I have been forced away from where I feel at home. I’ve moved away from the familiar. I’ve had to learn new skills. I’ve had to stand up for what was right instead of accepting a comfortable compromise. Where I have even had to leave the herd and go out on my own. Years later, I can look back and see those moments as spiritually significant. Game changers. Life-altering. As on-ramps to a new adventure.

These are what I call “Jacob Moments.” The story is told in Genesis 28:10-19. It starts with Jacob leaving home. He’s a momma’s boy. He doesn’t like to camp or hunt or stand up to his brother who’s a bit of a bully. One day he gets kicked out. We see him wandering off into the wilderness. That night he scans the horizon hoping that Motel 6 has left a light on for him. All he sees are rocks and bear scat. He says, “What a God-forsaken place.” Then he takes a rock. Picks it up. Checks the bottom for critters and lays down with that stone for a pillow.

If you have ever sung the camp song, “We are climbing Jacob’s ladder,” you know what happens next. He has a dream with a stairway and angels and knows he has come to the very gateway of heaven. The vision tells Jacob two things:

  1. That no place is God-forsaken. When we feel far from any spiritual support for our new adventure, God is there. Angels descending around us, we just don’t see them.
  2. The adventure begins here. We have left our comfort zone. We are no longer being a clam sitting in the mud of our favorite things. Jacob has to go forward and meet whatever challenges this new thing brings.

I think the song has it wrong. Jacob moments in our lives don’t involve climbing a tortuous ladder “higher and higher.” Nor does every rung give us a sense of accomplishment and a grander view. No. The ladder comes down from heaven. God and his angels are supporting us as we travel through the wilderness.  The ladder symbolically says to us “No matter where you are, God is there.” The adventure awaits.

The great depression put many Americans in a God-forsaken place
Pentecost 7