We were returning home from a walk the other day, when my 5 year old turned to me and asked, “Is it good to die?” What a question! You never know what 5 year olds are thinking. Was this a deep worry he had been carrying or just casual conversation? How much information do you give a curious 5 year old?
What Daniel asked casually at the end of a walk, is actually the question each and every one of us must answer ourselves. Is it good to die? The way we answer that question will reveal our deepest beliefs, our hopes or our fears, and our motivation for living each day. It’s the stuff faith is made of…
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1
Death…we all will face it. Do we live each day in fear of it or in anticipation?
Being a believer in Christ, I may fear the act of dying but I do not fear death itself.
I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. Philippians 1:20-21
What about you?
It’s the first day of summer at our house. Emily and IV finished their school year yesterday. This is always an exciting day for me because not only do I get to have all my kids home (I do miss them) but I also have a huge “to do” list that I hope to get done with extra hands around.
It started off great…IV got up with the little ones so that I got to sleep in. I can’t remember the last time I slept till 8:20am! It was nice. Unfortunately, when I did wake, I could hardly get out of bed. My hip stiffens now and then…probably from the strain of carrying 6 babies. This morning it was the worst. I do remember it hurting when I laid down last night. The left hip just didn’t want to loosen up today. It would loosen up after awhile but if I sat down to eat breakfast or something…it would be tight and in pain again when I stood up. Guess it’s time to see the doctor about that one.
Friday…cleaning day at my house. I cleaned the bathrooms and got all my ironing caught up. Emily and IV were helping watch the kids and doing little stuff around the house to help out. They are definitely spoiling me today…good attitudes and all!
Then I asked IV to start brewing tea. We brew tea in our coffee pot. IV did all of it correctly except he missed one important step….he didn’t replace the caraffee back on the coffee maker. So I hear this noise…a dripping noise but couldn’t place it. When I found it, there was steaming hot water all across the kitchen counter and cascading down to the floor. I am SO glad the little ones didn’t step in it before I found it…it was very hot! IV apologized. Of course, he didn’t mean to do it…these things happen. After we got it all cleaned up and started a new pot, IV said, “Note to self…remember to put the pot back on the coffee machine next time.” A good thing to remember.
We’re not even halfway through our first day yet! What will the rest of this day hold? Everyday is an adventure.
First, he schemes to get his brother’s birthright.
One day when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau arrived home from the wilderness exhausted and hungry. Esau said to Jacob, “I’m starved! Give me some of that red stew!” (This is how Esau got his other name, Edom, which means “red.”)
“All right,” Jacob replied, “but trade me your rights as the firstborn son.”
“Look, I’m dying of starvation!” said Esau. “What good is my birthright to me now?”
But Jacob said, “First you must swear that your birthright is mine.” So Esau swore an oath, thereby selling all his rights as the firstborn to his brother, Jacob. Genesis 25:29-33
How could Jacob take advantage of his brother’s hunger? Why couldn’t he just give his brother a bowl of soup?
Then, Jacob (with the help of his mother, Rebekah) tricks his father into giving him Esau’s blessing too.
But Isaac said, “Your brother was here, and he tricked me. He has taken away your blessing.”
Esau exclaimed, “No wonder his name is Jacob, for now he has cheated me twice. First he took my rights as the firstborn, and now he has stolen my blessing. Genesis 27:35-36
Right after this, Jacob flees for his safety. On his journey, God comes to him in a dream.
As he slept, he dreamed of a stairway that reached from the earth up to heaven. And he saw the angels of God going up and down the stairway.
At the top of the stairway stood the Lord, and he said, “I am the Lord, the God of your grandfather Abraham, and the God of your father, Isaac. The ground you are lying on belongs to you. I am giving it to you and your descendants. Your descendants will be as numerous as the dust of the earth! They will spread out in all directions—to the west and the east, to the north and the south. And all the families of the earth will be blessed through you and your descendants. What’s more, I am with you, and I will protect you wherever you go. One day I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have finished giving you everything I have promised you.” Genesis 28:12-15
God’s message to Jacob wasn’t one of accusation. He wasn’t answering Jacob’s prayers. God came to him unsolicited. He came to bless Jacob and promise to be with him. WHY?
God had a plan and His plan did not depend on Jacob’s ability to earn His blessing. God’s plan was to bless Jacob and his family. Jacob didn’t receive the blessing through trickery but in spite of it. God would have given Jacob the inheritance and He didn’t need their help. Because Jacob and Rebekah took it instead of waiting for God to give it…it came with sorrow and fear. Jacob had to leave his family and flee his brother’s wrath.
A passage in the New Testament helps answer why God chose to come and bless Jacob.
This son was our ancestor Isaac. When he married Rebekah, she gave birth to twins. But before they were born, before they had done anything good or bad, she received a message from God. (This message shows that God chooses people according to his own purposes; he calls people, but not according to their good or bad works.) She was told, “Your older son will serve your younger son.” In the words of the Scriptures, “I loved Jacob, but I rejected Esau.”
Are we saying, then, that God was unfair? Of course not! For God said to Moses,
“I will show mercy to anyone I choose,
and I will show compassion to anyone I choose.”
So it is God who decides to show mercy. We can neither choose it nor work for it. Romans 9:10-16
This may seem unfair when you first read it, but actually there is good news here. God chooses to bless people despite their actions. Since we all sin, we all deceive, and we are all selfish…we all need God’s mercy.
Do I believe God blesses me and will continue to bless me? Yes! Thank goodness it is from His own choosing and not based on my behavior because I continually fail Him. I will never be good enough to be worthy of His blessings, but I have them anyway.