Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Serious "Stuff and Nonsense"

Know that term?

Stuff and nonsense.  If you love Anne of Green probably remember Marilla using that phrase whenever Anne would get roped into some kind of  trouble.  Her red -haired temperament seemed to constantly get her into a jam.  Anne would come fretting to Marilla about it all, and Marilla would exclaim,
"Stuff and Nonsense!"

This past week of reading was filled with all kinds of stuff and nonsense. Stuff of a much more serious nature.    Isaac lies about his wife's identity.  Rebekah and their son Jacob pull a fast one over on Isaac and steal Esau's birthright.  Jacob runs away.  Laban deceives Jacob...and Jacob ends up married to Leah as well as Rachel..  The competition is on between the two women to see who can give Jacob the most children!

The Old Testament reads like a soap opera!

Jacob decides to reach out to Esau...offering gifts in hopes to gain favor.  Jacob is filled with fear.  Then the famous wrestling match happens and Jacob is told he will be called Israel.  He struggles with the Lord all night...and his meeting with Esau goes well.  They are reconciled.

But the nonsense is far from over.  Jacob's son's, in a rage over the wrong done to sister Dinah, talks Hamor, Schechem and all the men of their city to become "one of them.." They kill them all!  Jacob once again lives in fear, this time because of his sons' recklessness. 

This time God tells Jacob to journey up to Bethel and live there.  God tells him to clean up his act...and make an alter at Bethel. 

Jacob listens to God.  He gathers his family, tells them to get rid of their idols and purify themselves...
"...let us arise and go up to Bethel; and I will make an altar there to God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and has been with me wherever I have gone."
Gen. 35:5

God is at it again.  He not only has a chat with Jacob...but gives him a new name.

Jacob, by the way, means heal catcher, leg-puller, or supplanter.

Makes sense, right?  The guy did finagle his brother out of his birthright!

But Jacob changes.  After all the running away, he seems to have developed some muscle.  He has learned to hang in there when things get tough.  He recognizes God and will not let go.  And God blesses him.

God renames him Israel..."One who contends with God."


One Who Perseveres.

One who Perseveres.

Are you one who perseveres?

The girls and I were reading about idolatry.  Now, I tend to think about material "stuff" when the topic of idolatry pops up.   You know..the golden calf....graven images...all the junk that clutters up our life.

But we were reminded that idolatry can be about fear, too.  Your worries can consume you.  They can take the place of God in your heart.  If you are afraid, you are NOT trusting God.  Here is a list of stuff I have been worried about in the last few hours:

Violin lessons.
A science fair exhibit.
Blood work
Home school or kindergarten?
Aging pet.
Another foster child?
Cleaning out the basement.
Cleaning out my desk.
Barking dog.
Birthday gifts.
Web browser?
Does the 19 month old talk enough?
Latin.  Yes, Latin.  You heard me right...Latin.
Do we have enough toilet paper to get through the night?
When will we have time to go get some if we don't!

This is just a little part of it.  And not one whiff of God in that list, is there?

Now Jacob and his relations were fighting over birth rights and babies and bodily harm. They were not worried over science experiments and toilet paper.  But they handled their serious stuff the same way we handle our nonsense.  Trying to work it out ourselves,  instead of pursuing God and trusting Him to work it out for us.

I think the point of all this is summed up very nicely in the the Proverbs for today:

Keep sound wisdom and discretion, so they will be life to your soul, and adornment to your neck.  Then you will walk in your way securely, and your foot will not stumble.  When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.  Do not be afraid of sudden fear, nor of the onslaught of the wicked when it comes; for the Lord will be your confidence, and will keep your foot from being caught.
Proverbs 3: 21-26

May your sleep be sweet, dear friends.

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