Relationship Rescue (pt 1)

27 01 2010

I realize we are reading through Exodus now, but there are a couple passages in Genesis that have not let go of my heart and mind.   I don’t know if you’re anything like me, but if you are, you probably had something like “can we say dysfunctional?” running through your head while reading the story of Jacob and Esau.  I mean, first the favoritism of one child over the other with the parents.  Then Esau sells his birthright for a bowl of soup.  But that’s not enough for Jacob, who proceeds to trick his blind, dying father; stealing Esau’s blessing.  Esau’s not just ticked off, he wants to kill his brother so Jacob runs away to escape…fast-forward through lots more deceit and family dysfunction, a few wives, children and flocks, years of separation, and the brother’s find themselves facing a reunion.

Chapters 32 & 33 gives us two great snapshots of the reunion picture.  Jacob, obviously is fearful that Esau will still be holding animosity against him for the way  he (Jacob) stole the blessing that Isaac had intended for Esau.  I think it’s safe to assume that Jacob spent some time in the years following the rift in their relationship reasoning out why he hadn’t really done anything all that terrible.  After all, Esau had sold him his birthright; fair and square.  The only reason he had to trick dear old dad was because dad was going to ignore the transaction and bless Esau anyway.  And besides, his mom told him to do it.  Wasn’t he supposed to obey mom?

It’s human nature to try and avoid responsibility when a relationship breaks down isn’t it?  We can almost always come up with a reason why our behavior was okay “under the circumstances.”  Lookout!  Whenever we find ourselves explaining something we have or haven’t done in a relationship, and we have to use that phrase, we undoubtedy shoulder a portion of the blame for the failure of that relationship.  See, right and wrong are not contingent upon circumstances or anyone else’s behavior.    Someone else’s wrong will never excuse my wrong.

By this point in the story Jacob recognizes that fact, he accepts that he has wronged his brother and that he has a responsibility to initiate reconciliation.  And so we read this little phrase in verse 21 of chapter 32; “So the gift was sent on ahead of him…”  He took a risk.  He reached out toward reconciliation.  He extended something valuable, with no guarantee of any return.   Esau could have taken what Jacob sent and not reciprocated.  He could have completely refused the gift, the risk was Jacob’s.

Relational reconciliation always involves risk.  When we come to a place of knowing that we must seek reconciliation in a broken relationship, we make ourselves vulnerable.  There are no guarantees.  But we have to be willing to send our gift on ahead.

In the relationships that are broken in our lives, what “gift” can we send ahead?  Color me a city girl, but I’m thinking that a herd of livestock might not say the same thing today that it said in BC days.  Today, in righting a wrecked relationship, the most valuable gift I know of is the gift of “I’m sorry, I was wrong.”  And that’s a risk isn’t it?  What if they don’t acknowledge their part in the break-down of the relationship?  What if they don’t send a “me too” back?  That’s the risk isn’t it?  Kind of reminds me of a story I read of a God who was so desperate to reconcile a broken relationship with mankind, even though man was 100% at fault for the break,  that He sent ahead the gift of His only Son…you’ve probably heard the story too.  Makes my risk in reconciling broken relationships, for which I bear at least partial responsibility, look small in comparison.

So who do I need to send my gift ahead to this week?  I’m asking God to show me.

In Part 2, I’ll look at Esau and his role and response in the reconciliation.  See you then.

Not all at once…

7 01 2010

I’m a task-oriented person.  I’m pretty sure, if there were a hidden camera on me I would be caught with a little grin on my face every time I checked something off my task list.  And oh yes, I have a task list, which is synced with my web-based calendar and my laptop calendar and my Smartphone calendar.  I am definitely list-centric.   It’s not a bad character trait to have,  it allows me to keep a pretty heavy schedule operating fairly smoothly.  There is a drawback though, if I don’t get The List completed by the end of today, then tomorrow becomes just a continuation of today. I have to finish all those items that are now in red, before I can begin the new day’s tasks.  That leaves less time to complete the new day’s tasks, so there is more carryover the next day.  Before you know it, I’m never working on today’s plan.  I’m always working in the past.

I noticed something as I’ve been reading through Genesis this month.  There’s an idea that’s repeated in the Creation Story that I’m “getting” this time through. It’s a good idea to pay special attention whenever God repeats Himself in His Word, and He repeats Himself a lot in chapter one.   “Evening came, and then morning:” followed by the number of days, the first day, the second day, the third day…is repeated six times in the first chapter.  That stood out to me, and I started to wonder, “Why didn’t God create everything all at once?”  I mean, He’s God.  He could have, in a single moment, spoken everything into existence.  But He didn’t choose to do it that way.  He had a new plan for each day.

The process that He modeled for us is one of renewal.  Each day was new, with its own unique purpose.  No carry-over from yesterday.  For someone like me, who struggles to remember that The List is supposed to work for me, not the other way around, it is a liberating thought.  At the end of each day is a period, not a comma.  When I wake up in the morning, it is a brand new day; Thursday, not Wednesday Part 2.  If God, in His perfection, chooses to do things in stages – rather than all at once, why do I loose sleep over what’s not done yet?  If I walked in obedience to the opportunities that the Lord placed before me today, then I accomplished what He needed done, regardless of what my list says.

So, I’m going to start putting periods instead of commas at the end of each day and I’m going to stop subordinating today’s purpose to yesterday’s plan.