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.


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