“God of Your Dreams” Genesis 29:10-22
Delivered to Church for the Highlands
Sunday, July 19, 2020
Have you had one of those COVID-19 dreams yet? You know, the ones everyone is talking about being so vivid, weird, and timely. Dream experts have weighed in and said that the reason people are having them right now is that we are all anxious, and bored, especially during the time when everyone was actually staying at home. Even still, we struggle with the dreams we are having, wanting to know if there’s really a deeper meaning, perhaps something God or the universe is trying to tell us.
Our text from Genesis this morning is about a powerfully vivid dream that Jacob had, leaving him and us to wonder why and what it was all about. Jacob was not in a time of pandemic but it was one of the most stressful times in his life. Just before the beginning of our reading for this morning started, Jacob has been warned by his mother that his brother Esau is planning to kill him and that he should get out of town before he does so. As you may recall, Jacob swindled Esau out of his birthright, leaving him without a future and with plenty of rage. So Jacob heads off to hide out at his uncle’s house. On his way, while stopping to sleep one night, he has the dream. He sees a ladder reaching up to heaven. On it are angels coming and going from heaven. While looking at this amazing sight, God stands beside him and speaks to him. God tells him that he will give him the land he is on and that he and his offspring will be blessed and become a blessing to all families on earth. The last thing he hears in the dream is that God will be with him wherever he goes from then on and will bring the dream into reality. Jacob woke up, no doubt pinched himself several times, and said what you and I would say after such a dream, “Surely the Lord is in this place–and I did not know it!” and “how awesome is this place!” Imagine what a dream like that would do for your day and for the rest of your journey.
Just as Jacob found a place where God met with him, there are places in our lives where God will meet with us. Where is that place for you right now, that place where you discover that God is with you and where you have determined there’s a gate to heaven? Maybe it’s in your backyard, a quiet space or chair in your house, under a tree, a path you walk along early in the morning, a spot at the beach, or perhaps somewhere in the mountains. Chances are, it’s where you’ve found the presence of God, maybe not so much in a dream but in the regularity of your time there as you still your thoughts, read Scripture, or rest. There is a Bethel somewhere for all of us, a location where God wishes to stand with us and speak to us words that bless us as we journey in life, give us hope for the future even as we live in a fearful present, and leave us with a promise based in God’s faithfulness. When we go there, to this place, we will mouth the same exclamation as Jacob, “How awesome is this place!”
After recognizing how amazing this new place was, the next thing Jacob does is pick up a rock, anoints it with oil, and uses it to mark the place so as to never forget what just happened. That’s what you do after having a dream so powerful and real you never want to forget. You mark it. And that’s what Jacob did with that rock. Before leaving, at the rock, he makes a vow of commitment to God. He has been so transformed by the dream that he is compelled to take some kind of action, to give some response to the God who just showed up in his dream that has now become real to him even as he is no longer asleep. We can be sure that Jacob pre-booked that campsite for years to come.
What Jacob did with his dream at that site where he heard from God is what we are to do at ours–make a commitment. Isn’t that what happens when we meet with God, whether it happens on in the beauty of nature, inside a church building, out doing missional service, or while alone saying a prayer to God? It’s hard to imagine how interacting with God can’t bring about some change in our lives, especially as we come to understand that the gate between our existence in this world and God’s presence is so close to us; so accessible to us when we get in the place where God can speak to us. Sometimes we are moved to make a vow to God about something that needs our commitment. Other times we are blessed with encouragement from God right in the midst of the very things that are discouraging us. Sometimes in the place God meets with us we are left utterly speechless as we recognize how amazing it is that God stands beside us and reveals to us the wonder and grace of the intersection of heaven with earth. What about with you? What is your commitment to God as a result of recognizing God’s presence in your life? What have you vowed to be and to do for the God who has shown up in your life? Like Jacob, we shouldn’t go any further on our journey until we mark the spot with an action for God in our lives.
Yesterday John Lewis, a longtime civil rights activist, and Congressman, died after a struggle with cancer. The news and social media have been full of stories of his amazing life, especially about his work of taking action to bring much-needed change to our nation with civil rights. Lewis was a man of faith, a follower of Jesus that went way beyond mere words. A quote I read is worth mentioning as we consider what it means to be committed, “It was not enough to come and listen to a great sermon or message every Sunday morning and be confined to those four walls and those four corners. You had to get out and do something.”
In the same way, our times of connecting with God will lead us to commit to God in ways that will change us and our world, turning God’s dream for us into a powerful reality.