We had great fun when I was little, going to Sunday school. I remember there were about a dozen of us, mostly little girls in our class. The teacher was a very kindly lady, and OH! did we give her a hard time. We played her up something rotten. Then it came time to move up to the next class, and the teacher was a man who was quite strict. I decided then and there that was the end of Sunday school for me. I wasn’t going to spend my Sunday mornings being bossed around! So I just refused, and my parents wisely didn’t force me to go, although they went to church themselves. For several years I just played around on a Sunday morning while my family was out at church, and enjoyed myself!
The day finally came when God made himself real to me, and I went back to church, not because anyone made me, but because I wanted to.
Jacob had been raised in a God-fearing family. He had no doubt been taught about how God had dealt with his grandfather Abraham, and heard the many stories of how God had chosen their family to be a great nation, and how he had rescued them from danger many times. He had even been blessed by his father Isaac, so that he might partake of all that God had for them.
We see him on the road to Haran (Genesis 28:10-15), a lone traveller; a refugee, having tricked his brother and escaped a murder plot. No doubt his mind would have been racing, recounting to himself the events and traumas that preceded this journey, probably feeling vulnerable, wary of thieves and attackers.
He knew about God, but this was the night he would know God. The Lord made himself known to Jacob the cheat, because of who Jacob was, and not because of what he had done. God repeated to him the promise made to Abraham – that he would have many descendants, that they would take possession of the land, and that all people would be blessed through his offspring. But there was something more. “I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” That must have been music to the ears of a solitary man in a lonely spot.
It’s not enough to be brought up in a Christian or God-fearing family. You have to come to know God for yourself. Then there are no spots too lonely, no history to catch up on you, no vulnerability to fear. For Jesus made a very similar promise to those who know, trust and obey him: “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew28:20)
No matter where you are you just need to remind yourself, (v16) “Surely the Lord is in this place.”