Remember yesterday, when your home was on fire and you got to save five items? That means you left a lot of stuff behind. What are the things you wish you could have taken but had to leave behind?
Well… nothing except my mom.
But really, that doesn’t matter anymore because I’m on the run again. It seems like I’m always running, doesn’t it?
This time around though, I’m not on the run alone. In fact, this is not a run; it’s more like we’re walking really fast and pushing all our flock fast. You should see us. We look like a carnival. Black and White goats and sheep, Rachel, Leah, our 13 children on horses and camels and the handmaidens – Bilhah and Zilpah.
I look back at when I was last fleeing over 14years ago and I look at my life now and I must say that a lot has changed.
First, I met The One. While I was running from Esau, I got tired and decided to rest. Everywhere around me was so rocky and dry, it felt like a physical representation of how I felt about life. I sat on the ground and just stared into space until I lay on the ground. I couldn’t sleep as I kept thinking about my mom and how she used to come into my chambers and prop up my head with a pillow until I got too used to using a pillow. I had dropped off my bag of cloths earlier in the journey as it was weighing me down. So, I had nothing comfortable to use as a pillow.
Eventually, I used a stone for pillow and little budges of rock for bed. It was so depressing! Then I dreamt and saw angels go up and down a stairway. I looked beside me and saw THE ONE!!! My father always talked about Yahweh, the God of Abraham my grandfather, a covenant keeper, but I never had a personal encounter with him. That day, however, He appeared right beside me, introduced Himself (haha! like He needs any form of introduction. He is glorious!!). He sort of repeated the blessings my father pronounced on me and He said to me ‘Remember, I will be with you and protect you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land.’
I like to think, that if I had fled my father’s house with a pillow, I would have slept so deep that night and would not have encountered Yahweh. So although I needed a pillow, I’m glad I left it behind.
Then, I met the one. 🙂 Her name is Rachel and I’m watching her carry our son Joseph in her arms as she directs the flock. She is the most amazing woman in the entire universe and the very first woman who made me believe that there are other women like my mom. Technically, she’s my cousin; she’s Uncle Laban’s daughter, a professional shepherdess and a beautiful and shapely woman. She was the first woman I met in Haran. I was talking to a bunch of men at the city well when I sighted her from afar leading the flock to be watered. I tried to take my eyes off her and engage in ‘flock conversation’ with the men but they kept talking about Rachel and how she was arriving with the rest of the flock and blah blah (I was no longer listening to them). She came over and I helped her in watering the flock while we discussed. By the time we were done, I felt like I knew her so much that I kissed her on the cheek and she giggled and ran off to her father to tell him about her new cousin. I had to work for Uncle Laban for 14 years before I got married to her. And for everyday of those 14 years, I felt like the sun rose and set slower and slower but I also felt like it was nothing. For all I cared, time could move as slow as a snail, all I could think of was the promise at the end.
So yes, back home at Beersheba, there was this girl at the Temple Bakery. It had seemed like we had a future together and when I first fled, I wished I took her along. But now, I’m glad I did not because I have Rachel, Rachel and Joseph.
Then also, I have Leah and her 7 children! When Yahweh had told me that he’d make my children as numerous as the sands of the earth, I had no idea he wanted to do it through just Leah. I do not believe in luck and chances and so I believe that Leah was all part of Yahweh’s plan for me. I worked 7 years to have Rachel, but Uncle Laban, her father, deceived me and gave me Leah. After the night of consummation rites, I woke up to behold the face of my darling Rachel. I turned on our bed and almost shrieked when I saw Leah, Rachel’s elder sister, beside me. I should have suspected though. Rachel is more shapely than Leah, but I was just a man filled and drunk with the excitement of being with the woman of his dreams.
Leah is gentle and kind. She knows that I do not love her as much as I love Rachel and I guess that’s a blessing in itself, for me. She and Rachel have a few petty fights here and there, but she does not rub it in so much. The fact that she’s had 6 boys and 1 girl for me already does all the talking she needs in any argument. But what she does not know is that, the fact that Rachel could not conceive a child early only makes me see a semblance of my mother in her; and it makes me love her more. I have four other children from the handmaidens (it’s a long story).
When I fled Beersheba, I wished I took along a lamb to cater for, as I found that catering for other people or things reduces the amount of pity we feel for ourselves. But now it does not matter anymore, I have 12 tiny bundles of amazing joy weighing down on me.
Finally, I met Uncle Laban – the shrewdest and most cunning person you’ll ever meet. (and you have met me and my mom) You know, I used to think that I was the most cunning person ever. I knew how to get what I wanted while acting all innocent. I suspect I got it from my mother (look at her grand ‘steal Esau’s blessing’ plan). But then, when I met Uncle Laban, I realised that I was nothing compared to him. I suspect that they had both grown up in an environment where they had to be cunning to survive because how do you explain two extremely manipulative siblings who live worlds apart from each other but still remain extremely cunning in their ways?
Because I understood completely what it was like to be cunning and manipulative, I took no offence with Uncle Laban when he cheated me and gave me Leah, when he changed my wages 10 times, when he agreed to let me take all the black, spotted and streaked sheep but then shipped them all away and left only the pure white when the time came for me to choose from the flock.
But I thank Yahweh because although I wished that I left my manipulative mind back in Beersheba, he let me take it along with me. It came to good use for me because I used that same mind to manipulate the flock into mating and producing black, spotted and streaked offspring; and that turned to a lot of cash money for me!
I’m happier here on the field again as I flee. Because the same wind which embraced me when I first fled has brought to my inner ear, the sound of Uncle Laban’s horses pursuing after us. I love the wind because no matter what I leave behind, it never leaves me behind.