Bad Deal. Good God.

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Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank, and rose and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright. –Genesis 25:34

Esau walked into the house and there was his brother, Jacob, making a delicious smelling lentil stew.  His brother said, “I’ll give you a bowl of this stew if you give me your birthright.”  Jacob was always trying to make deals like this.

Esau laughed and said, “I’m hungry, Jacob, but not THAT hungry!”

No wait, that’s what he should have done.  Instead, he raised his fork, and forked over his dad’s inheritance, his leadership and position in the family, all for a bowl of steaming lentil goodness.

Bad deal.

What are some of the bad deals you’ve made?

  • Jan and I bought a used car from a high school kid without taking it to a mechanic.  7 minutes into taking possession of it, flames began to pour out underneath the hood.  Jan got our money back, but that’s a deal I wish we’d never made.
  • When I lived in Kansas City, some guy was going door to door selling alarm system contracts.  We signed up for a 6 year monthly plan, which they held us to…even though we moved after 4 years.   Man oh man I wish we hadn’t agreed to that deal!
  • And more than once upon a time, I’ve given up my birthright, just like Esau.  I’ve turned my back on the blessings God’s given me to do something…stupid.  Self-destructive.  Selfish.  Or even just because I craved something else.

Yep.  I’ve made some bad deals.  I’ll bet you have too.  Well the Good News is that Esau recovered, as can we.  It wasn’t like God was out to get Esau, but more that Jacob was willing to move his life in a direction Esau wasn’t yet ready or willing to take. Bad deal or not, God never gave up on Esau.

Years later, the two brothers unite on a field.  Jacob is ready for bloodshed from his angry brother, but Esau is gracious and forgiving and beautiful.  I don’t know if God so much as helped Jacob steal his brother’s birthright, as he helped set these two young men on faithful courses with their lives.

Bad deal. Good God.

There are many lessons to be learned from the story of Jacob and Esau, but one of those lessons should NOT be that God is some kind of a used-car salesmen looking to take advantage of our shallowness.

Rather, God can work through us even when we’re gullible, shallow, and impulsive.  It was a bad deal, to be sure, but Esau came out alright.  As did Jacob.

The next time you agree to a bad deal, (and there will be a next time) don’t let it eat your lunch.

You’ll likely be hungrier for Good News next time,

so don’t stew in your juices about it.

(if you have a good pun using the word ‘lentil’, I’d love to hear it)

Have a great week,

Mitch

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Could You Handle 800 New Years?

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The days of Adam after he became the father of Seth were eight hundred years; and he had other sons and daughters. –Genesis 5:4

Somewhere between 2019 and 2020, I’m sure somebody shot off some fireworks.  Someone stupidly fired a gun in the air. The whole world celebrated.

I didn’t hear any of it.

I slept. Not out of boredom or depression or anything like that.  I was just sleepy. And not that interest in watching another ball drop.

And…I already had a good idea what I’d wake up to in 2020.  Sure enough, on the other side of a decent night’s sleep, I found the exact same guy staring at me from the mirror.

There I am.  Overweight.  Wart on my foot.  My beard is crooked.  Thus begins another year with myself.  Been there, done that.  Too much anxiety.  Too much a perfectionist and too dismissive of details.

I’ve been around this track 50 times now.  I’ve learned that crossing the Dec.31st finishing line doesn’t really change me.  I may create a few resolutions this year (2 days a week at the gym?), but I know darn well I rarely keep them.

My question is:  How in the world did Adam do it?  800 new years, and that’s only the years AFTER his Son Seth gets born.  Basically, Adam had upwards of a MILLENNIUM to live with his flaws, his idiosyncrasies, his crooked nose, and a curious predilection for low hanging fruit.

Oh, and a messed up world.

Would you even celebrate New Years if you lived to 800?  Or would the years all run together into one prolonged eye roll?  I’ve been awfully eye-rolly lately…

And so, at first I greeted New Years with a yawn, and not because I slept through it.  I felt a little bit…done with it.  Yeah, yeah, new year, new decade.  I’ve been here before.

But I clearly haven’t.  No one has.  I think sleep makes me forget, and a little time with God helps me remember:  We are on the threshold of something new.  Something unprecedented.  This is untraveled territory, this day — every day.

The notice of this week as “New Year” is totally arbitrary.  Just a date on a calendar someone picked, long ago, and we stuck with it.

But we’re not STUCK with anything!  I don’t care how old you are, 8 or 8o, or 800, each new day is for you to explore.  It’s unlike any day that has come before.  On New Year’s Eve, while I was sleeping, the exciting thing that happened was that God was claiming me for another day.

God claims me for all the days, for all the ways I change and grow, and all the ways I stay the same.  For all my bad jokes and all my brilliant ideas.  For the resolutions I make, and the ones I’ll probably break.  God is in it with me for the whole 800+ yards.

I may have slept through the ball drop, but I didn’t miss the important things.  The God of 2019 is the God of 2020, is the God of all time.  And God, through Christ, has invited you and I on the journey of our lives…however long they last, and beyond.

I don’t know why we don’t live as long as Adam did.  Maybe lifespans were measured differently.  Maybe God was still fine tuning creation.  Maybe it’s just a dramatic depiction. Since we never hear from Adam again, it’s possible he lived the rest of his life in boredom or frustration.  It’s also possible he opened himself to receive a marvelous life of challenge and growth and joy.

That’s the one I choose to believe. That’s the new year God wants for me.

I’m going to live 2020 with a little more optimism than last year. A little more faith. After all, if God can do all this while I was sleeping…

I can’t wait to see what happens when I’m wide awake.

Have a great year,

Mitch

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