by Sal Huckel
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‘Then Esau said, “Let us be on our way; I’ll accompany you”’ (Genesis 33:12).
Have you ever said sorry with your fingers crossed behind your back?! Jacob (‘deceiver’) spent his entire existence doing this kind of thing. From the beginning of his life, through deception, he got what he wanted. Or did he? Did cheating make Jacob happy?
This encounter follows Jacob’s 20-year self-imposed exile to escape from Esau whom he deceived with his mother’s help. There’s no evidence in Jacob’s story that he has learned much from his past other than accruing guilt for his string of deceptions and betrayals.
We think this is a reconciliation – it seems to have the elements. Following an emotional reunion, Esau wants to go forward together. Wouldn’t this be a brilliant new beginning, a journey together? No. Jacob gives false reasons for delaying and then goes in the other direction. Disappointing! Looking back at the so-called reconciliation? There was no repentance, no apology, no promise of a future together. Jacob got what he wanted – a false reconciliation (rather like his false inheritance). It’s a missed opportunity, and a family remains broken.
Are you Esau, trying to lay the past aside, make a future and restore the relationship with your family member? Or are you Jacob, trying to keep your advantage, still serving the Lord, but there’s unfinished business with a sibling or other family member? God still blessed Jacob, but surely he was not a happy or peaceful man. Are we really right with God when we have unfinished reconciliation work to do? These are difficult times. We are stronger when we are together. ‘If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone’ (Romans 12:18). Uncross those fingers, and stretch your arms out in front of you. Embrace, weep, apologise and forgive.
Lord, show me what unfinished business I need to come back to. Help me to be brave and trust you to go with me as I return to reconcile relationships and live at peace with those waiting to reconcile. May new journeys begin with your blessing. Amen.