Please note...this is "Jacob, part 3." I encourage you to scroll down and start with "Jacob, part 1."
Are you aware of the baggage you’re carrying on this journey of faith?
Are you exhausted from the weight of hiding it from the world?
I love the Jacob story not just because I see myself in Jacob, but because the story reveals a piece of our stories, namely, the baggage we carry. Baggage is the residual affects of life’s painful experiences, whether we were violated or abused or neglected; whether it was what we ourselves did, or what someone did to us; baggage is the lingering affects of our past, carried out in our present. It is our woundedness, our brokenness. And almost everyone I know has it.
Brokenness and baggage is rampant in our culture, but it seems to me like no one wants to talk about it, not even the church! No one, it seems...but the Bible.
Allow me to set the stage. An elderly, nearly blind Isaac asks his favorite boy, Esau, to hunt, then cook, his favorite meal, so he can bestow his favorite blessing. His wife, Rebekah, conspires with her son, Jacob, to steal the blessing through deceit, disguising the younger Jacob as the older Esau.
And Jacob answered his mother Rebekah, "Behold, Esau my brother is a hairy man and I am a smooth man.” Genesis 27:11
At this point, I must digress from the text simply to point out that “smooth man” is code for “wussy boy.” In other words, Jacob is not the man’s man, that his brother Esau was, and his dad’s disappointment in who Jacob was, was self evident. Imagine the heartache of knowing...dad loves...Esau. As a result of his baggage, Jacob stoops, not merely to stealing from a blind man, but robbing his brother of his inheritance as well.
Then Rebekah took the best garments of Esau her elder son, which were with her in the house, and put them on Jacob her younger son. 16 And she put the skins of the kids on his hands and on the smooth part of his neck. 17 She also gave the savory food and the bread, which she had made, to her son Jacob.
With the clock ticking and his heart racing, Jacob deceives his dad, while his brother is off hunting game.
24 And he said, "Are you really my son Esau?" And he said, "I am...27 and when he smelled the smell of his garments, he blessed him and said, "See, the smell of my son is like the smell of a field which the LORD has blessed; 28 Now may God give you of the dew of heaven, And of the fatness of the earth, And an abundance of grain and new wine; 29 May peoples serve you, and nations bow down to you; Be master of your brothers, And may your mother's sons bow down to you. Cursed be those who curse you, And blessed be those who bless you."
This is ugly.
But this is what flows out of the heart from people who carry baggage, people like...me. For oh so many years, I had no idea that the loneliness I felt, the drive to prove myself, my defensiveness, my relational aloofness--I could go on and on--was coming from a very broken place inside. I had baggage.
There are several things to note about baggage.
1-Open your eyes. Note that even godly families can carry major baggage. Isaac and Rebekah love God, and yet, they make parenting mistakes, out of their own baggage, that deeply affect their kids. So listen, it’s a GREAT day when you recognize you have baggage!
2-Soften your heart. Notice that baggage is passed on in different ways to different people; Esau becomes a worldly man who despises the blessings of God; Jacob becomes a deceiving manipulator. Everyone is different. Some people become driven because of their woundedness; others become passive. Some people become rebellious; others become people-pleasers. BUT WE ALL HAVE BAGGAGE! And our baggage is different in effect as well as in size. Some of us have small little carry-on bags, while I would say of myself, that I have an 18’ U-haul truck filled to the top with bags upon bags upon bags. My baggage may be greater than yours, but almost all of us carry it. And my baggage has softened me toward the baggage of others.
3-Trust in your God. I'm not sure you can actually trust a God you think is disgusted with you. But notice what God does and does not do in this story. God doesn’t wave a magic wand over Jacob’s issues. Being a believer most definitely does NOT automatically fix everything! In fact, Jacob makes some progress, but never fully stops living from his brokenness, yet God faithfully walks with him every step of his journey. More so, while seeing the ugliness of Jacob’s baggage and its devastating effects, our faithful God refuses to back away a single inch.
Jacob didn’t have a story to see himself in; he didn’t have a mirror in which to see his own baggage on display. But you and I do. We have this story, Jacob’s story, to simply recognize...
It’s o.k. to not have it all together. It’s o.k. to not be o.k.
So let’s shake off the lie that we need to be perfect. The weight of perfectionism...can be lifted...God doesn’t love some ideal image of you. He loves you...and does so...with your baggage.
I’m so tired of pretending to have it all together. Of feeling like I need to be”fixed” in order to be loved.
Blog writing ®John Hever. Unless otherwise stated, photos are not the original creative works of John Hever. To access the website of h2o church, go to www.h2ochurch.org.