You Have Called Me Higher
Out of my deep anguish and pain I prayed, and God, you helped me as a father. You came to my rescue and broke open the way into a beautiful and broad place. Now I know, Lord, that you are for me, and I will never fear what man can do to me. Psalm 118:5-6 TPT
There he was, running away with little in his arms, but a blessing on his head. His name was Jacob, and he had a bad reputation for being a liar and a thief; a deceiver without integrity, only seeking his own advantage. Willing to destroy any relationship to elevate himself. He could play the perfect dark and disturbed hero on a Netflix series.
My new friend sitting across from me in the coffee shop leans in to admit in a whisper, “I really don’t like Genesis. Those people were supposed to be the heroes – but look at Jacob – I just don’t get it.”
I know. Our childhood Sunday school lessons scrubbed everyone up pretty squeaky clean. When you read those stories for yourself, it makes you take a step back with disgust. What happened to the beloved stories of Abraham and Joseph and worst of all Jacob? Those guys were liars and selfish scoundrels and would be perfectly at home in our modern wayward world.
Hmmm…Maybe the story is not so much about them – as it is about this unseen, wondrous God who reaches out to them.
I have to admit, this bad child Jacob sort of fascinates me. He came out of the womb fighting to be first. He didn’t mind playing the role of his mother’s favorite. He didn’t hesitate to sell a bowl of soup to his older brother for his right to the lion’s share of his father’s estate. And he deceived and lied to his own father to get the best blessing. He was always fighting to be first and best. Wow. To this southern woman who was raised to never elevate or brag on herself this in-your-face fighting spirit of Jacob’s to be first is head spinning. I am a bit in awe – and a bit jealous of his determination.
God would find him there, running and alone in the wilderness. He would accompany him into a strange new land because God had great plans for this deceiver Jacob. He would call him higher. He would call him deeper. It was going to be an exciting adventure, with 12 sons trailing behind him to become 12 nations in a very foreign land.
Listen in on Jacob’s first encounter with this Almighty God. This is an excerpt from my book Genesis as Jacob runs away from his family and into the arms of God. (pp139-140)
It was a long journey, and it seemed that Jacob was traveling alone. One night he made camp after dark with a rock for his pillow, which sounds like a bad choice to me. In the middle of the night, he heard the most beautiful music, and then Led Zeppelin wandered over the hill, singing “Stairway to Heaven.” Okay, that’s not what happened. Actually, Jacob had an amazing dream. He saw a stairway, or a ladder, that rested on the earth and reached all the way up into heaven. Angels of God ascended and descended on the ladder, and there at the top was God. And God spoke to Jacob—with a blessing. Now, this was a familiar blessing; it was the blessing God had spoken repeatedly to Jacob’s grandfather, Abraham:
“I will give you the land on which you are lying; it will be for you and your descendants. Your children and their children will become as numerous as the grains of sand. They will spread out to the west and the east, to the north and the south. And something much more than that will happen: all peoples on the earth will be blessed because of you and your offspring” (vv. 13–14, my paraphrase).
Well, let’s just stop right there. That is an enormous blessing. How can the lives of all peoples on earth be blessed by Jacob and his descendants? All peoples?
And then, so much smaller in scope comes the rest of the blessing. This is the blessing that Jacob would be able to see and touch because it would be so personal to him:
“I am with you. I will watch over you. I will be with you wherever you go. I will not leave you until I have done all these things that I have promised you” (Genesis 28:15, my paraphrase).
Now, that’s a big blessing. And, oh, so personal.
If you have trouble believing the promises of God, you aren’t alone. If you have trouble accepting that a God somewhere up there in heaven even notices you, much less has great plans to bless your life, don’t worry about it too much. You aren’t alone.
Even with the heavens opening and the voice of God Himself making promise after promise to Jacob, his response was a bit doubtful, and a whole lot conditional. “We’ll see what happens… if you really do bless me maybe I will follow you.” Ha! Something tells me Jacob wasn’t quite trusting what God had to offer.
Jacob couldn’t scare God away with his doubts. You won’t either.
Called Me Higher by All Sons and Daughters
The story of the song: