“And he lighted upon a certain place, and tarried there all night, because the sun was set; and he took of the stones of that place, and put them for his pillows, and lay down in that place to sleep.”
“And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put for his pillows, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it. And he called the name of that place Bethel: but the name of that city was called Luz at the first.” -Genesis 28:11-18
The sun had already set when Jacob chose a rock for a pillow in a field that he was traveling through. He had just upset the entire structure and dynamic of his family, and his parents instructed him to flee from his brother’s wrath. So he ran. He ran until the darkness became his safety and he laid down in the dirt to sleep somewhere between home and the unknown. Somewhere between danger and refuge, with a rock for a pillow and dust for blankets.
This “somewhere” turned into the “where” God appeared to Jacob the first time. Up until this point, Jacob had grown accustomed to having things handed to him. He lived under his parents “roof” and under his parents faith… and he knew it. But tonight, just another night in another week, in the middle of the mess Jacob had created, God appeared. His presence changing the mundane into a monumental moment... His presence inviting Jacob to make faith his own and not his father’s.
That night, God made Jacob some promises. (Gen. 28:12) He promised to give Jacob’s heritage the land where he was now making his bed, and to grow his offspring in numbers as vast as the dust that he was now laying in. And to Jacob, personally? God promised His presence. He promised to bring Jacob home, and He promised He would never leave his side until every promise had been fulfilled. Yet, Jacob was unsure. The Trickster was skeptical of trusting. So he made his own vow and put God to the test.
“And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, So that I come again to my father's house in peace; then shall the Lord be my God”
In the middle of the night, in the middle of the field, Jacob invited God to show Himself. And God did. Over the next couple of decades, God kept His promises, and Jacob got to know God in new and unique ways. When God appeared in the dream, Jacob saw Him as an Omniscient God, a God who saw the past as well as the outcome. When Jacob was deceived by his father in law, over and over and over, he was introduced to God as a God of justice and a Shield. When he was pursued and wanted for harm, God revealed Himself as Protection and Strength over any force. And then, decades later, as Jacob found himself in the embrace of his estranged brother Esau, he saw God as Promise Keeper… his God.
Have you lived through a night season where God showed up? Has there been a moment in the “somewhere in the middle” where God orchestrated clear and miraculous direction? Even in tiny details? (Can any blessing from the hand of Almighty God be categorized as “tiny”?) Can I encourage you to make your own reminders? Write it down, hang a picture in your home, place the date next to the timely verse in the margins of your Bible. Simple “rocks” can be used as generational reminders that foster and grow faith in our hearts and the lives around us. With God’s presence, the mundane can become monumental, a humble field transitions to the house of God, and a pillow rock becomes the foundation of a faithful promise.
Maybe you find yourself reading this and wondering why you’ve never seen God’s orchestration in your story. First of all, I believe the truth that God sees all, and is the Author of our every moment. He is present even if it feels like He has abandoned you. Rest assured, His fingerprints are all over your story. But maybe you NEED to see His hand. Pray and ask God to show Himself. Ask Him to reveal His character through the events in your everyday life. And when He does, make that memorial. Write it down, lay the rock down so that when the next faith building time comes, you can look back and be reminded. God showed up for you then… and He will this time too.
ARH Administrative Director
“For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children” -Psalms 78:5