As a family we recently read the story of Jacob fleeing Esau and sleeping on a stone and having that ladder dream. I’ll be honest, the ladder story has never done very much for me. Who cares about some dumb stairway in a dream? (Apparently, I didn’t.) But that night the story moved me like never before. In it, we learn that God interacts with us, relates to us, speaks to us, not because of what we’re doing or how well we’re following Him (because at that point Jacob wasn’t), but because He loves us.
He loves us? Yes, He loves us — loves us because we exist, because He made us, because He is Love. He loves us because He has chosen us, and our relationship with Him isn’t dependent upon our good behavior, our good standing, our proper obedience. It wasn’t until years later that Jacob was really following God with his heart, but here God gave Jacob an experience of Him that was so intense that he named the place Bethel, or “house of God.”
Jacob met God in that place, and it wasn’t because of anything Jacob had done. To think that God wants to interact with me no matter the state of my soul! How wondrous not to deserve this interaction with God, but to get it anyway. How incredible that He gives us His fellowship even though we are unworthy. His love is that big. And this kind of unconditional love is not just in the New Testament as we sometimes tell ourselves (or as I sometimes gathered growing up in church). No, God’s unconditional love is all over the Old Testament too. We don’t deserve this relationship, yet God gives it to us anyway — even before He sent His son.
Hearing my husband read this story out loud spoke to deep places inside me. Afterwards I tried to share my amazement. What I said may not yet make sense to such childlike faiths — young hearts that don’t yet doubt God’s love for us human beings. But I hope that planting these kinds of revelations in their little hearts and minds will help them later in life. I hope they will look back on what we taught them and be able to see His love written all across Scripture in a way that is sometimes hidden from the more legalistic among us.
So thank you, God. Thank you for including the story of Jacob’s ladder in your Word. Thank you that a passage I know so well and am usually so underwhelmed by could still touch me so deeply. To borrow a phrase from Connie Harrington, “Your grace still amazes me. Your love is still a mystery.”