Freshman First 40 — Day 39

DAY 39
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 2011

Gen 28:10-17; Gen 32:22-31:1

In yesterday’s devotional we considered the life of Jacob. There we saw that God met Jacob in a particularly powerful way (twice!), when Jacob was in the midst of a journey – in a time of transition. These vulnerable moments – times of change and uncertainty, when we’re stripped of our usual illusions of being in control – these can be times of real spiritual opportunity.

There is a second point worth noting in Jacob’s story. Namely: God meets with Jacob both as he is journeying out from home, and as he is returning to his home. Indeed, for Jacob, it is the second journey, the journey back to the land promised to Abraham, that will be most significant. And this is also an important lesson for us.

Our culture values independence, thinking for oneself, becoming one’s own person, standing on one’s own feet, and so on. We are good, in other words, at encouraging people to journey out from home. And certainly, “leaving home” is an important part of growing up. But – as Jacob’s story suggests – an equally important part of growing up is learning how to “return home.”

Clearly, there is a “first journey” to be made in spiritual and personal maturity; one that includes hearing new voices and learning to think in new ways. But there is also a “second journey” to be made; a second maturity that includes valuing and embracing the wisdom of home; the insights of parents, family, church and the community in which one was raised. Navigating these two journeys isn’t easy – and in fact, not many people successfully make both! There are those, for instance, who never make the first journey – who refuse to consider that things could ever be any other way than they were back home. And then there are who make that first journey, but make it with such passion and intensity that they reject the insights and wisdom of their past completely. Making both journeys, as I’ve said, is difficult. So it is good to know that all along the paths and passages we travel we can find the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. In times of change and transition, he is eager to travel with us and help us to discern what is to be left behind and what is to be carried along on the journey.

DR. STEVE GUTHRIE
School of Religion

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