Each month, we’re going to reflect on what we’ve been reading in the Know His Word reading plan. We’ll call this Reading His Word. You’ll hear excerpts from Bible studies and reflections from our team and others reading alongside us. This month we’re sharing some reflections adapted from Rachel & Leah, a Bible study by Nicki Koziarz. Enjoy!
Can you think of the most defining moments of your life? Those moments when everything shifted in an instant? When nothing was ever the same?
Of course, the moment we invite Jesus into our lives should always be the most defining, but I’m talking about other moments or places where decisions defined us, maybe even in a not-so-great way.
We’ve all had them. Some more dramatic than others, but they are there. I remember one of mine very clearly.
Nineteen. Alone. Standing in a bathroom holding a pregnancy test that read positive. My life shifted in that moment. It was a defining moment for me. While I had struggled with comparison for what seemed like a lifetime, becoming a mom at such a young age wasn’t exactly an ideal situation for learning to become comfortable in my own skin.
I spent a lot of my early twenties looking at all these women who seemed to have life way more figured out than I did. Comparison convinces us we’re failures. And our failures leave us in a place of constant comparison. It’s a cycle that never seems to go away.
But failure really is one of life’s greatest teachers. And it’s time for you and me to get honest about our failures. There’s so much God wants to teach us from our pasts. They contain clues to help us understand what’s happening today.
Let’s do some digging.
Read Genesis 25:27-34.
When the boys grew up, Esau became an expert hunter, an outdoorsman, but Jacob was a quiet man who stayed at home. Isaac loved Esau because he had a taste for wild game, but Rebekah loved Jacob. Once when Jacob was cooking a stew, Esau came in from the field exhausted. He said to Jacob, “Let me eat some of that red stuff, because I’m exhausted.” That is why he was also named Edom. Jacob replied, “First sell me your birthright.” “Look,” said Esau, “I’m about to die, so what good is a birthright to me?” Jacob said, “Swear to me first.” So he swore to Jacob and sold his birthright to him. Then Jacob gave bread and lentil stew to Esau; he ate, drank, got up, and went away. So Esau despised his birthright.
This is a big defining moment for both Jacob and Esau. Nothing would ever be the same between them again. But this intense struggle to be the best didn’t end there.
In fact, we’ll see it get worse a few verses later. It’s a constant theme throughout their story. Isaac became old and unable to see well (Gen. 27:1). He became weak and sick and thought his days might be up very soon. So he asked Esau to go kill and cook him something yummy to eat. Isaac wanted this to be a special occasion between him and Esau in which he could give Esau his blessing (Gen. 27:2-4).
The blessing was different than the birthright. The birthright was what the firstborn son was required to get by law, such as the double portion of the inheritance. The blessing, such as who would become head of the extended family after the father’s death, was decided upon and bestowed by the father. So what Jacob did next was extra conniving. He and his mother, Rebekah, cooked up a scheme to trick Isaac into giving Jacob the blessing, instead of Esau, and Isaac fell for it. (Read Genesis 27:5-40 for the whole story.)
And whoa, did this stir up some anger in Esau. He wanted to kill his brother. Once Rebekah realized Jacob was in danger, they made a drastic decision.
Read Genesis 27:41–28:2.
Esau held a grudge against Jacob because of the blessing his father had given him. And Esau determined in his heart: “The days of mourning for my father are approaching; then I will kill my brother Jacob.” When the words of her older son Esau were reported to Rebekah, she summoned her younger son Jacob and said to him, “Listen, your brother Esau is consoling himself by planning to kill you. So now, my son, listen to me. Flee at once to my brother Laban in Haran, and stay with him for a few days until your brother’s anger subsides—until your brother’s rage turns away from you and he forgets what you have done to him. Then I will send for you and bring you back from there. Why should I lose you both in one day?” So Rebekah said to Isaac, “I’m sick of my life because of these Hethite girls. If Jacob marries someone from around here, like these Hethite girls, what good is my life?” So Isaac summoned Jacob, blessed him, and commanded him, “Do not marry a Canaanite girl. Go at once to Paddan-aram, to the house of Bethuel, your mother’s father. Marry one of the daughters of Laban, your mother’s brother.
Jacob’s journey was about five hundred miles. It would have taken him weeks to make this trip. That’s about like walking from Charlotte, North Carolina, to Orlando, Florida, or from San Diego to San Francisco, California.
Let’s think about our starting points and where we want to end up. Bible studies can give us a lot of knowledge, but just knowing a lot of things about the Bible isn’t going to change our lives. It’s when we apply God’s Word that we see the most impact.
For many of us, comparison has gotten a hold on our lives in a way that has caused us to pause. We’ve become numb to believing God has special, unique things just for us.
In Romans 12:4-8 we see something of the genius of God’s design in putting all of us together in the church, each with a part to play and a gift to contribute, but none able to go it alone. He could have appointed just a few supermen and superwomen to do it all, but He didn’t. If we are willing to do our parts and not compare how our parts measure up to someone else’s, we just might find the thrill of being a functioning part of something much larger than ourselves. Plus, we’ll likely come away with some great relationships added in for good measure.
Today, I believe, is a turning point for you and me. The more unsettled we allow ourselves to become with this comparison struggle, the more likely we are to overcome it. And the more honest we get about where we are, the more we’ll see where we need to go. It’s the struggles we stuff, ignore, or simply deny that never see the light of victory.
Jacob knew his destination was Haran. He didn’t know what was in store for him there, but it was better than where he was.
And where God wants you and me to end up is much better than where we are now. He wants your destination to be freedom.
This article was from Rachel & Leah by Nicki Koziarz, a Bible study we recommend for learning all about the story of Rachel and Leah and combatting comparison!