Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” 17 And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!” Genesis 28:16-17
But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul. Deuteronomy 4:29
When we read the story of the life of Jacob we find him really meeting with God only twice. Once, at the beginning of his journey as he is fleeing from his brother Esau Jacob lays down to sleep in the desert. There with a stone as a pillow, he sees in a dream a stairway with angels descending and ascending. Far at the top of the stairway is the God of his father, who is seeking him.
Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” Genesis 28:16
Jacob was like myself and many others; running from his circumstances, but not really seeking God for refuge. Just as God came to a sleeping Jacob, God shows us that His grace extends to us even at those moments when we don’t know what to do, He is seeking us and He finds us because He seeks with all His heart.
Act two unfolds at the other end of Jacob’s journey. Twenty years have come and gone and Jacob has met his match in his uncle Laban. Jacob has learned about his own limitations and weaknesses because of the things he has endured during those years. He is filled with the material blessings of God but is finally totally desperate to find God’s help and deliverance because He knows that Esau is coming to meet him with 400 men. In that night of fear and struggle Jacob meets, not with another man, like Laban or Esau, but with one who will never let Him go.
Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day. Genesis 32:24
In our deepest struggles when we long for the help or counsel of others God often orchestrates those moments so we will be utterly and completely alone. He has appointed that time and place to meet with us and to test the depths of our heart. Will we hang on with all that we are to God as Jacob did or will we retreat? He now wants to know what we want more than anything else in all the world.
And He said, “Let Me go, for the day breaks.” But he said, “I will not let You go unless You bless me!” So He said to him, “What is your name?” He said, “Jacob.” And He said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.” Genesis 32:26-28
In that moment if we seek God first and will accept with nothing less than His blessing, we will find Him who first found us. When God first met Jacob, the course of Jacob’s life was changed, but when Jacob found God his name was changed. In the first meeting Jacob sees God far at the top of a mighty stairway, but this time God comes into direct contact with Him and Jacob limps away from that encounter saying:
… “For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.” Genesis 32:30
“Here’s my heart O take and seal it
Seal if for Thy courts above”