Running for your life? Planning a flight in the night? Remember that unless you are traveling alone, there may be complications. Everyone on the run has a story.
Jacob decided to leave secretly, since he feared that Laban would not let him go. He took with him his wives, children, livestock and other property.
Why did his daughter Rachel choose to steal her father’s valued possessions – these images (KJV)? Did she not know that he would come searching for them? The stolen goods, I guess, were part of Rachel’s story, or maybe part of her father’s story that she wanted him to part with. Who knows?
Every time I read on, I find support for my view that shrewdness resided all in this family and not in Jacob alone. See, Rachel used a successful tactic to prevent her father from searching her saddle, telling him that she had her menstrual period.
Rachel’s theft created opportunity for Laban and Jacob to set things right between them. That could not have happened had Jacob simply taken a flight in the night, no discussion, no airing of his vexation and feelings of being taken advantage off. Indeed, he had much to complain about to his uncle. Listen to him:
“What is my offense? What is my sin, that you have hotly pursued me? 37 Although you have felt about through all my goods, what have you found of all your household goods? Set it here before my kinsfolk and your kinsfolk, so that they may decide between us two. 38 These twenty years I have been with you; your ewes and your female goats have not miscarried, and I have not eaten the rams of your flocks. 39 That which was torn by wild beasts I did not bring to you; I bore the loss of it myself; of my hand you required it, whether stolen by day or stolen by night. 40 It was like this with me: by day the heat consumed me, and the cold by night, and my sleep fled from my eyes. 41 These twenty years I have been in your house; I served you fourteen years for your two daughters, and six years for your flock, and you have changed my wages ten times. 42 If the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac, had not been on my side, surely now you would have sent me away empty-handed. God saw my affliction and the labour of my hands, and rebuked you last night.”
Up till that point, it was Laban (so he thought) who had just cause to be angry. Jacob had left without allowing him the common courtesy of saying goodbye to his daughters, and without giving him the chance to appoint a successor to care for his estate. And to make things worse, it seemed to Laban, Jacob had stolen his prized goods. Laban had no way of knowing that his nephew was not guilty of that theft.
Sometimes, even our misconceptions concerning others may provide opportunity for discussion of our differences. We can never be quite sure that we judge rightly even when circumstances seem to suggest that we are in the right. It is always good to have a frank an open discussion where such a forum is feasible. It is not always advisable; but it sometimes turns out to be a clarifying healing encounter. We get to tell each other how we feel, which may not necessarily amount to the whole truth.
After all, our feelings and misunderstandings become part of the truth until we dare to discover the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
When we have the courage to, and when it is safe to do, it proves to be truly worth it.
Help us, Lord, in situations where we seek to run away from ourselves, from those whom we do not understand, and from you: help us to stop and reconsider that in your presence, things can be seen in proper perspective and relational healing can occur. Amen