Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Pace of the Journey

Genesis 33:12-14
Then Esau said, "Let us set out, and I will go at your pace." But Jacob answered him, "You must know, my lord, that the children are small; the flock and herds are suckling their young and I am concerned for them, and if the men overdrive them for a single day, all my beasts will die.  I beg you, my lord, to go on ahead, and I will go by easy stages at the pace of the children and of the livestock that I am driving, until I come to my lord in Seir." (New English Bible)

The Old Testament is full of stories of journeys  from one place to another.  In Ezra and Nehemiah the Israelites return to Jerusalem from Babylonian captivity.  In Joshua, men were dispatched to spy out land.  In the book of Exodus, a whole nation fled on one days notice.  Here in Genesis, the family of Abraham is commanded by God to leave their homes and go to a land God would show him.  And now, in the text above, Jacob returns to face the brother he deceived two decades earlier.

What I find particularly interesting in this story is the description of the pace of the journey.  We read plenty of  God telling people to "Go," and sometimes "Stay," or even, "March around the city." Sometimes he tells them what to take on the journey.The pace of a journey is not often described in the Old Testament.  

What I liked about this passage was Jacob, the leader of the family, was very conscious of the condition of his loved ones.  They were tired and so were the nursing cattle.  He wanted all who belonged to him to arrive safely, so he was determined to "go by easy stages at the pace of the children and the livestock.

Notice that Jacob didn't just stop the journey because the children were tired.  They keep moving and arrived by the same road Jacob would have taken had he been traveling alone.  

My take away for my life is that God does not have a different standard for younger-in-the-Lord Christians vs. mature Christians.  All that say they know the Lord are to obey the Lord.  We are not to cut people slack in the expectations of God for their lives.  Not at all. Yet, like children, baby Christians may be traveling at a slower pace. They may have more questions, they may take a few more bunny trails than mature Christians.  BUT they are still on the journey.  We don't need to dumb down the journey by making excuses for sin. We who know God's command, for example, that we are not to lie do not then turn around and let those who are younger get away with lying because "that's what children do."  Instead of making excuses for those who lack maturity and experience, we are to slow our pace to answer questions, rebuke or encourage our fellow pilgrims to stay on the "narrow way," 


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