Intimacy is God’s idea. God desires intimacy and He is the One who initiates a personal encounter with us (Rev 3:20). One way to respond to God’s initiative is to practice His presence—which is by far, the most worthy practice in our life. In the Old Testament, God’s presence and promise of “I am with you” was demonstrated clearly in the life of Jacob.
Jacob’s track record was far from being impressive. He was a deceiver and a manipulator. He gained Isaac’s blessing in dishonest ways. Jacob was an undeserving recipient of God’s favor, yet it is through him and his descendants that God chose to bless all the families of the earth (Gen 28:14-16)—Jesus’ genealogy can be traced to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Wrong priorities or preoccupations, difficult people, or even our own spiritual blindness, often impair us from recognizing God’s presence. In Genesis 28:15-16, God already promised Jacob that He will be with him, that He will keep him wherever he goes, that He will bring him back to the land of his fathers, and that He will never leave him until He has accomplished what He has promised to him. Despite all these, Jacob still had a transactional attitude toward God (Gen 28:20-22). As God sends Laban into his life, we see that his faith and relationship with God are refined over time.
On his journey, Jacob met Laban (his uncle) and entered a deal with him. He was to serve him for seven years in exchange of Rachel, Laban’s younger daughter (Gen 29:18). But the story doesn’t end here. Jacob was deceived and cheated by his father-in-law not just once. After serving Laban for fourteen years, Jacob wanted to leave. But Laban, noticing that the Lord’s blessing was upon Jacob (Gen 30:27-28), persuaded him to stay and enter a new deal with him, only to deceive him again.
Another six years passed and despite Laban’s deceptions, God blessed Jacob so much so that Laban and his sons envied him and became hostile toward him. It was during this time that God told Jacob to return to the land of his fathers. When Jacob and his family fled from Laban, God intervened by appearing to Laban in a dream, warning him not to do anything to Jacob, either good or bad. Clearly, it was God’s presence that guaranteed blessing and security in Jacob’s life.
Twenty years might seem a long time to endure, but God’s timing is different from ours. God is more interested in our character. Warren Wiersbe shares, “before God changes circumstances He wants to change our hearts.” He is willing to sacrifice our earthly comfort for our eternal joy with Him. God used Jacob’s time of testing to transform him from the inside out. From being a deceiver, he became a true worshiper (Gen 35:2-3). Toward the end of his life, Jacob regarded God as his Shepherd who had been with him all his life (Gen 48:21). Knowing God intimately was the greatest legacy that Jacob passed on to his children and the generations after him.
He patiently knocks on the door of your life so He can dine and be intimate with you. But He leaves the choice to you. This choice will ultimately make an impact in eternity. Make it a habit to involve Jesus in the daily throngs of your life—in the biggest and even in the littlest events, in significant and even in trivial activities, in every hour and every minute. As we experience intimacy with Him, we soon discover that He alone is our comfort, blessing and security.