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Posts Tagged ‘reconciliation’

“But Esau ran to meet him and embraced him and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept” Genesis 33: 4 (ESV)

Jacob and Esau were brothers, but their relationship was not an easy one. Jacob repeatedly cheated and mistreated Esau. Things came to a head when Jacob cheated Esau out of his blessing which was intended for him (Geneses 27), and Jacob realising how badly he had offended Esau, left worried that he would kill him. Indeed killing Jacob was exactly what was on Esau’s mind (v 41), perhaps partly out of revenge, and perhaps to regain his blessing.

There are people who are meant to be in our lives, and there are those who are not. Some people are either unhealthy for us, or us for them. One way or another it is best that they are not close. But there are others that are meant to be a big part of our lives. It seems to be suggested that Esau and Jacob should have been together. There will be spiritual or natural family that we are meant to be with too. But as with Esau and Jacob things don’t always go smoothly. If that is the case, this story has important lessons for us when it comes to reaching out to others:

1) God has a role in this, and it’s the most important role. He goes ahead of us and prepares the way, in particular he prepares hearts (Malachi 3:1). While nothing is stated of the process, God prepared both Esau and Jacob’s heart to desire a reconciliation. He moved Esau from hate to genuine love, and he clearly missed his brother. Along the way both would have been sure it was a bad idea, that it wouldn’t ever happen, that it wouldn’t work. But deep down they listened to the other voice, the voice of God who told them to risk it.

2)  God also arranges circumstances. He caused the two brother’s paths to literally cross. They met in the desert, but God will prepare circumstances for us also. He may use a phone call, an opportunity to be in the same place, or some other circumstance for us to find out more about the other person. Sometimes when we know more about someone our opinion of them changes. Or put another way, our assumptions were incorrect!

3)  We also have a role. Our role is to make an effort to reach out to someone else. Esau came out into the wilderness with four hundred men to meet Jacob (32: 6). That was no small effort. Imagine heading out into the wilderness with little idea where to find the person you are looking for, with supplies to keep a staff of 400 going for what was likely to have been at least many weeks, if not months. He put a lot of effort into reaching out. It is likely if someone reaches out to us that they have also put great effort in. It may have taken courage, or a lot of prayer, or a great emotional effort or risk for them to reach out. When someone reaches out to us, don’t underestimate what it means to them, and what it may have cost them.

4)  We can, and should, show honesty and emotion. Read that initial quote again. Back in those days running was not something that respectable people did. Esau, although the wronged party, ran to meet Jacob (note the parallel with the parable Jesus told of the Prodigal running to meet his son). When he met him he cried and told him how much it meant to be together again. He then genuinely asks about his life and his family. We too need to have real honesty when trying to connect with someone else, especially when reaching out to those who should be close to us.

So all was well after this? Not really. God can take us so far. He can do many miracles, and can reunite us with others. But we have to accept what he has done. For some reason Jacob then listed to the voice of fear. He still didn’t fully trust Esau and they went their separate ways. To be fair they were genuinely reconciled, so that was good. But they no doubt missed out on so much. It is true that most people are not trustworthy, and it is right to be cautious, but there is another time. There is a time where God is doing something and inviting us to be reconciled or joined for the first time with someone else. When someone has reached out to us we can either take everything that the opportunity presents, or at least partly walk away. Let us reach out to those God has placed into our lives, and when someone reaches out to us, take them into our lives. It blesses us, and the person who is reaching out. Relationship with God, and after that with others, is the most important thing in our lives.  It is not to be wasted, but it can be enjoyed and really add something to our lives, not to mention the pleasure it must give to God when we respond to the opportunities He gives us.

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