“And Isaac called Jacob, and blessed him, and charged him, and said unto him, ‘Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan. Arise, go to Padanaram, to the house of Bethuel thy mother’s father; and take thee a wife from thence of the daughters of Laban thy mother’s brother.’”
Genesis 28: 1,2
King James Version
“Lost, Lonely, and Looking”
Jacob’s Journey Back to His Roots
“To be rooted is perhaps the most important and least recognized need of the human soul.”
What does having “roots” mean to me?
“Magical country, full of memories and dreams,
My youth lies in the crevices of your hills;
Here in the silk of your grass by the edge of the meadows,
Every flower and leaf has its memories of you.”
“Whoever is uprooted (herself) uproots others,
Whoever is rooted (herself)
Doesn’t uproot others.”
Before my father was born, his family, who had their “roots” in a place called “Stoney Creek” near Elizabethton, Tennessee moved to Arlington, Arizona. My grandmother, who was an adopted child, may very likely not have felt the same ties in Tennessee that my dad’s father did. My grandmother, Dorothy, from what I’ve heard, had a sense of adventure and with a wonderful Teacher’s College in Arizona, and longing for her children to receive a good education, she encouraged her husband and children in their move to the Valley of the Sun.
However, things did not turn out as planned. A daughter, Winnie died. And then, when my father, the youngest of nine children was only 6-months-old, my grandmother died suddenly.
At this time, my grandfather, faced with raising little children as a single parent, returned with one son to Tennessee. My dad was left behind with a neighbor in the hope that a family member would take him back to Tennessee once life got settled. But again, things did not go as planned. My grandfather died and so one son was left in Tennessee while other older children, who had married, scattered across the country. My father was left as a foster child. And for a brief time, he didn’t know that he had so many brothers and sisters. He was an unrooted child.
It took over 30 years before my dad ever met his brother in Tennessee. In order for him to be able to connect with a garden full of family members he’d never met, our family, took our summer vacation one year and drove to my uncle’s home in Elizabethton. I was not that old, but I remember to this day the first time my dad and his brother threw their arms around each other. While these were grown men – believe me, there were tears on everybody’s cheeks.
Mary O’Hara penned these words: “If you go away from your own place and people – the place you spent your childhood in, all your life you’ll be sick with homesickness and you’ll have no home. You can find a better place, perhaps, a way of life you like better, but the home is gone out of your heart, and you’ll be hunting it all your life long.”
As we found in previous studies, Jacob was certainly Rebekah’s favorite child. And it makes me wonder how much Rebekah shared with Jacob about her home – the place where she grew up. We must remember, Rebekah had just a couple of days to make up her mind to leave family, friends and home and travel to a place where she didn’t know anyone and was going to marry a man she had never met.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes, when we are young, what looks like a great adventure and a lot of fun -- being free from family constraints in a new place-- becomes a place of great loneliness. I know because I once moved many miles away from friends and family to a beautiful mountain town. While I easily made new friends, after awhile, I missed home. I yearned for the seed that was planted in my heart. That connection that gave my life “roots.”
So, Isaac, knowing that Rebekah’s family provided the “roots” that we call, “Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,” sent his son, with his blessing to take a wife from the family tree.
In contrast, Esau married two Hittite women from Canaan whom the Bible tells us brought great sorrow into the family. But after learning that Jacob had received the blessing meant for him – the elder son, Esau spit in the face of his parents and the Bible says in Genesis 28: 9(KJ.V.), “Then went Esau unto Ishmael, and took unto the wives which he had Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael Abraham’s son, the sister of Nebajoth to be his wife.” Talk about stabbing your family in the back. But don’t forget, Rebekah and Jacob had been part of a deceitful plan to take the blessing of the birthright away from Esau and now the chickens had come home to roost. They got as they had given.
It was a lonely Jacob who left the home he had known, the place he loved, the parents who gave him roots, and traveled to a place he didn’t know.
I believe if Jacob had to describe to you and me how he felt walking away from the tent of his mother Rebekah and seeing tears pour down her face as she said goodbye, he would describe himself this way:
“Far away from my country I would be like those trees they chop down at Christmastime,those poor rootless pines that last a little while, then die.”
Tossed out into a rough, harsh world, the lost and lonely Jacob, could easily have fallen prey to the elements or to wild beasts or evil human predators, but instead God in His love and mercy marked Jacob’s path. During a night dream, when the desperate man, was using a rock for the pillow on which he placed his head, Jacob was given a dream in which the Creator of the universe promised:
And, behold, “I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.” (Genesis 28: 12-15, K.J.V.).
What a promise! Jacob had to leave his dear mother, and become an uprooted transient because of deceitfulness perpetrated against his brother, yet God so kindly said, “I’ll keep you rooted. You’ll come home again.” For all of us who have at times felt alone and without roots, what a beautiful promise to claim today.
“That I can live long enough to obtain one and only one desire that someday I can see again the mulberry and catalpa trees of home.”
“Today, I feel isolated,
Like an island in the middle
of a great ocean.
No one really understands
my feelings, and I hesitate
to burden others with my troubles.
‘If only’ things could change.
Living Jesus, please continue
to love me through this time of gloom,
Penetrate my loneliness with
Your divine presence.”
Dorothy Valcarcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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