Supposed to Be

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on reddit
Reddit
Share on email
Email

There’s the way that things were supposed to go… and there’s the way that things went.

Esau is Isaac’s oldest son, and that is supposed to mean something. When Isaac dies, Esau should become the man of the house. He should have the dew of heaven and the fatness of the earth and plenty of grain. Nations should bow down to him and he should be lord over his brothers. The people who curse him should be cursed; and the people who bless him should be blessed.

But. There’s. Jacob.

Jacob is Esau’s younger brother. Yes, he’s only younger by a few seconds, but those few seconds are supposed to mean something.

And Esau and Jacob have always been at war. They fought in their mother’s womb. Esau was born first with Jacob grasping at his heel. And, this one time…

…Esau was a hunter, and he had been out tracking game, and he came home starving. And Jacob was at home—he was always at home—making stew. Esau walked in, ready to pass out from hunger, and asked for some of the stew; and Jacob said, “Sure, if you give me your birthright.” And Esau said, “Okay.” But he was hungry. He was delirious from hunger. And he is the oldest son, and that’s supposed to mean something.

And now…

Isaac is dying. His eyes are closing. And he has this blessing to give. So he calls his oldest son and says, “Go hunt some game, and prepare it, and bring it to me. And I will eat it, and I will bless you.”

So Esau goes hunting. And Jacob and Rebekah—Jacob’s mother, Esau’s mother, Isaac’s wife, and that’s supposed to mean something—conspire against him. Rebekah prepares food. And Jacob dresses up like Esau; he even puts hair on his smooth skin so that he feels like Esau. And Jacob takes the food, and goes to his father. 

And Isaac thinks that Jacob was Esau. So Isaac blesses Jacob.

May God give you of the dew of heaven, and of the fatness of the earth, and plenty of grain and wine. Let peoples serve you, and nations bow down to you. Be lord over your brothers, and may your mother’s sons bow down to you. Cursed be everyone who curses you, and blessed be everyone who blesses you!

And when Esau comes home, and prepares his game, and takes it to his father… there’s nothing left for Esau.

There’s the way that things were supposed to go… and there’s the way that things went.

I’ve been talking about windows and mirrors lately. And if you’ve heard this before… well… you’re about to hear it again.

Through windows, we see other people. People who look different from us, or act different from us, or talk different from us, or whatever. And the windows that we look through—the books and movies and tv shows and all of that… the history textbooks and story problems in math classes—teach us what to expect from those people… who look or act or talk different from us.

In mirrors, we see ourselves. People who look like us, and act like us, and talk like us, and whatever. And the mirrors that we look into—the books and movies and tv shows and all of that… the history textbooks and story problems in math classes—teach us what to expect from those people… who look and act and talk like us.

And it’s been a while since I’ve said this, but just in case you’ve forgotten, I am a straight white cis-gendered able-bodied neuro-typical well-educated English-speaking professional middle-class man between the ages of eighteen and forty-nine who lives in the United States of America.

So when I’ve looked in mirrors—when I’ve seen people who are just like me or a lot like me—I’ve seen people who are, overall, doing pretty well. The halls of power are full of people who look a lot like me.

And when I’ve looked in windows—when I’ve seen people who are different from me—I’ve seen a lot of people who are, overall, not doing as well. The prisons, the rough neighborhoods, the bad schools… those are full of people who look different from me.

And I know how easy it can be—when that’s who you see in mirrors, and when that’s who you see in windows, and when you’re on top—to think that’s the way things are supposed to be.

And I know how easy it can be—when the books and movies and tv shows and all of that, when the history textbooks and story problems in math classes, change… when we start looking in new mirrors and through new windows—to say, “But that’s not how things are supposed to be!”

But here’s the thing: The way that the powerful think things are supposed to be—the way that keeps the powerful on top—is not the way that things are supposed to be. 

God knows how things are supposed to be, God is steering the world toward the way things are supposed to be, God is bending the long arc of the moral universe in the direction of the way things are supposed to be.

Sometimes, God works through the powerful to do that. Sometimes, God works through the social justice warriors, and the social justice clerics, and the social justice rogues to do that. Sometimes, God works through the powerless to do that.

God works through the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes. God works through the ones who see things differently, who are not fond of rules, who have no respect for the status quo. 

God shows people that they can change the world. God inspires people to change the world. And then God works through the ones who think that they can change the world.

And I know that because God worked through Jacob, who took his brother’s birthright through misdirection, and who took his brother’s blessing through deceit.

Esau was a hunter. Esau was a man of the field. Esau was someone who roamed.

But after he gave up his birthright and lost his blessing, he stayed close to home. He cried about how he thought things were supposed to be, about being the oldest son, and about how that was supposed to mean something. And he dreamed about killing his brother.

So Jacob and Rebekah conspired again. They sent Jacob—who was always at home—to Haran. And, on the way, Jacob passed through a certain place, and dreamed of angels, and received God’s promise.

And I don’t know… maybe, if he hadn’t been so busy mourning the things he had lost and complaining about how things were supposed to be, Esau would have passed through that place and received that promise and things would have turned out very differently. 

But he didn’t. Jacob did.

This guy who wasn’t the best, or the wisest, or the strongest, or the most righteous. This guy who was clever enough to get a birthright and a blessing, and who was scared enough to leave the world that he knew, and who was brave enough to reach for something new.

Jacob was the one who passed through this place and received this promise.

And it just might be…

It just might be that we are not called to stay safely close to home, crying about how we thought things were supposed to be and mourning the things that we have lost.

It just might be that we are called to go boldly into the wilderness and look for the places where God’s promise is already growing. 

It just might be that we are called to listen for the voices of prophets and learn from the ones who overturning what is in favor of what could be

It just might be that we are called to find the places where justice and righteousness, hospitality and hope, love and light already are…and join in.

And it just might be that those places will be where we least expect, among those who we least expect. And It just might be that we will find ourselves in what seems like the middle of nowhere, exclaiming, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and we did not know it!”

Because the truth is that God is calling us to something so much greater than the way that we think that things are supposed to be…

…God is calling us to look into something so much greater than the windows and mirrors that we’re used to…

…God is calling us to nothing less than the kingdom that they prepared at the beginning.

And yeah, that can be scary. And, yeah, that can be sad. But more than anything, that is wonderful and amazing. More than anything, that is good news.

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on reddit
Reddit
Share on email
Email

Recent Posts

Pin It on Pinterest