We go to great lengths to ensure that our plans will progress smoothly and then come to fruition. In fact, some of the things that we do to make certain that we get our way are down right silly. For instance, recently a Major League Baseball player decided to start using performance enhancing drugs. To make certain that he would get away with his plans:
He created a fake website…
That sold a pretend product…
That he claimed he took.
Then he claimed that the fake supplement tainted his test results.
Not only did he get caught taking the drugs, he got caught creating the website. It was a humiliation on top of an embarrassment.
This type of deception isn’t limited to athletes, in a bizarre story that broke last week, book authors have been creating fake login names at online retailers for the the purpose of posting “glowing” reviews of their own books. One legitimately reviewed author in particular couldn’t leave well enough alone:
He created multiple fake ID’s…
Posted high reviews for his own works…
While tearing apart his rivals.
This kind of scheming and conniving is nothing new. Even a cursory review of the Old Testament reveals that the earliest people spent a great deal of time setting up hedges against even their best bets.
Nobody was better at this than Abraham’s grandson Jacob.
Jacob was the younger brother who wanted the family inheritance. After going out of his way to receive it in a trade from his older brother he still decided to dress up as his brother so that he could decieve his blind father when the time came for the inheritance to be given.
Then he split town.
While on the run from his family he took a job working as a shepherd for his in-laws. Desiring to increase his own personal wealth, he brokered a payment plan that would give him every spotted or streaked baby animal born to the herd he tended. Genetically speaking, spotted and streaked animals are more common that those of a solid color, especially when they begin breeding with the solid color animals.
Jacob got rich quick.
What’s funny though is that the Bible records an absolutely ridiculous element to this story. In efforts to produce more spotted animals, Jacob would make the animals look at spotted and striped tree branches while they mated.
While we understand today that visual stimulus has no effect on genetics, Jacob didn’t. He was willing to do whatever he could to get whatever it was that he wanted, even when what he wanted was already in reach.
Of course Jacob’s get rich scheme meant that his father-in-law was soon angry with him, so once again Jacob hit the road in a hurry. On the run from his in-laws, Jacob had a run in with the brother that he had defrauded.
He and his wealth were stuck between a rock and a hard place.
He sent his servants to his brother with gifts and a message of reconciliation. They returned and told him that his brother was on his way to meet him, and that he was bringing 400 men.
In fear, Jacob divided all of his possessions into two camps, one for him and the other for his women and children. His hope was that even if his brother killed him, the others would be spared. Then he hedged his bets in a different way.
Jacob prayed to God for deliverance.
“Save me, I pray, from the hand of my brother Esau, for I am afraid he will come and attack me, and also the mothers with their children. But you have said, ‘I will surely make you prosper and will make your descendants like the sand of the sea, which cannot be counted.’” -Genesis 32:11-12
Jacob had spent his life trying his best to safeguard against his fear that God, the same God who had promised to care for him and make him prosperous, would not fulfill those promises. Everything he attempted in his young life was a scheme against others, born out of a mistrust of God.
We don’t still do this today do we?
Isn’t it true that our fear of not getting what we want fills us with an anxiety that causes us to attempt the ridiculous in an effort to secure the miraculous? Don’t we also take this one step further and then try to claim that our silly efforts are actually what delivered success into our hands?
Instead of living the life of patience, honesty, and courage that God has called us to, we lie, we cheat, we scheme, and we intimidate because we think that our success lies at the end of our ability to manipulate or force others into doing what we want them to do for us.
At the crossroads of his life Jacob found that running and fighting didn’t get him what he wanted. Surrendering to God did. After an all night wrestling session with God, Jacob went out to meet his brother.
“But Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him; he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. And they wept.”
God keeps his promises.
He is faithful.
We can run from him, we can wrestle with him, we can hedge all of our bets against him, but in the end it is always God that delivers our successes. It doesn’t matter whether or not we want to give him credit for it.
In light of Jacob’s story I find myself wondering:
Why am I anxious about God’s promises?
How can I rest in the promises that God has made to me?
What schemes do I need to set down?
What has he asked me to do next?
God’s plans will come to fruition because he is faithful and good.
We don’t have to embarrass ourselves along the way.