Happy to sidestep the encounter

By Dave Henning / December 4, 2023

“Jacob had to return to the region where Esau lived.  No more hiding.  No more running.  Jacob might have been happy to sidestep the encounter, but not God.  Meeting Esau was a spiritual necessity.  To more forward into his future, Jacob had to come to come face-to-face with his past.”- Max Lucado

“But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God.”- Philippians 3:13-14 (ESV)

In Chapter 9 (“Past Tense”) of God Never Gives Up on You, Max Lucado tells the story of Fred Snodgrass.  Fred played nine years of major league baseball.  Following his sports career, Fred succeeded as a rancher and a banker.  In addition, he served as mayor of Oxnard, California.

Yet, when Fred died at the age of 86 in 1976, the New York Times obituary headline heralded his most famous failure.  Playing for the New York Giants, Fred dropped a tenth inning pop-up.  In the deciding game of the 1912 World Series.  As a result, two runs scored.  The Giants lost the Series.

Above all, Pastor Lucado acknowledges, we’ve also dropped the ball in some area of life.  Certainly, the occurred with Jacob.  He achieved what he wanted.  But he burned bridges to get the birthright.

However, we find sordid stories in the biographies of other Bible heroes as well.  For example, Moses murdered an Egyptian and fled Egypt with blood on his hands.  And Esther took a courageous stand — until she didn’t.  Because she hid her Jewish identity from the king.

Most significantly, the apostle Paul actively tried to “destroy the church” (Acts 8:3 NIV).  In that passage, the Greek word for destroy denotes a brutal and sadistic cruelty.  No mere lapse of judgment or youthful indiscretion there!

Yet, God used Moses and Esther.  Because they trusted God with their futures, their pasts no longer held a vise grip on them.  And, Max exhorts, we must do likewise.

Today’s question: Like Jacob, are you happy to sidestep the encounter?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Your Esau = your brother”

About the author

Dave Henning

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