Genesis is one of my favorite books in the Bible. It’s the beginning…the beginning of the greatest story in history. It chronicles the lives of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph, the lineage of patriarchs that God would use to execute His plan to rescue us and bring us back into a right relationship with Him. This year reading through Genesis, I have been especially struck with Jacob’s story. He was a mess of a kid. His mode of operation was to deceive and to trick his way into getting what he wanted. The thing he wanted most was acceptance. He longed for it and he went to great lengths to try to get what his heart desired. Twice he used trickery to deceive and steal from his brother Esau. He eventually had to flee his country and go to his Uncle Laban’s house to escape his brother’s wrath. While there, Jacob received the same treatment (deceit and trickery) from Laban that he had dished out to Esau (see Genesis 29-31).
In Genesis 32 we find Jacob leaving his uncle’s land to go back to the land of his father. He was especially fearful of seeing Esau because of the deceitfulness and trickery he had used in getting him to sell his birthright and robbing him of the blessing from his father. Once again, Jacob tried to gain acceptance, this time by trying to appease Esau with gifts. The night before he was to meet Esau he wrestled all night with God and through this struggle, Jacob came to see that it was not the face of Esau with which he was to be most concerned with, but the face of God. He says in verse 30 “For I have seen the face of God, and yet my life has been delivered.” That night he discovered that He was accepted by God. This was the approval Jacob most truly needed – what his heart really longed for. Once he received the vertical acceptance from God, all other horizontal human acceptance became so much less important to him.
Jacob’s experience is part of my own story. As a teenager and young adult, my heart longed for acceptance. I so desperately wanted to be accepted by others. Like Jacob, I made many choices and bad decisions in order to gain the acceptance I thought would make things right and would satisfy my soul. As I searched for that acceptance in others, I instead found heartbreak, confusion and the reality of the consequences of my poor choices. Like Jacob, I had made a mess, BUT GOD…
…BUT GOD stepped into my life. He reached down at the lowest point of my life and set my feet on solid ground. He took my mess and began to recreate a beautiful story of redemption. Through my struggles, He taught me that the face I needed to be the most concerned with was His face.
In God’s Word, I began to discover some vital truths that began to transform my mind and change the trajectory of my life. I am God’s child – John 1:12; I have been justified – Romans 5:1; I have been bought with a price, I belong to God – 1 Cor. 6:20; I have been redeemed and forgiven of all my sins – Col. 1:14; I am free from condemnation – Romans 8:1-2. Over the years, as I grew in my understanding of these truths and as I grew in intimacy with Christ, I realized that God’s acceptance was what my heart truly always longed for. Like Jacob, I had been looking in all the wrong places. All along I was looking for something more and I found that a relationship with Jesus was so much more than I had ever dreamed. Like Jacob, I can say “I have seen the face of God, and yet my life has been delivered.”
As I discovered the truth of God’s acceptance of me, made possible through the life, death and resurecction of Jesus Christ, human acceptance became so much less important to me. I now know that my worth and acceptance comes from Christ alone – not from anything in me, not from anything I do or don’t do. It’s all grace poured out on me through the precious blood of Jesus Christ.