I have in front of me a small card, with the photo of a couple who are missionaries in India. The man came to speak at our church last week, and distributed the cards to everyone. He asked us to put it up on the fridge with a fridge magnet, so that every time we went in to get a nibble, we would see the card and briefly pray for them.
I wonder if it was something like this that Jacob was thinking when he used those striped sticks in the drinking troughs (Genesis 30:37-43). Perhaps those sticks served to remind Jacob to pray, and seek God’s blessing over his beasts. It was then an act of faith, and God loves it when we demonstrate our trust in him.
Quite possibly he had seen this device used back in Canaan, where perhaps mottled colours were more highly valued; and quite possibly it was a superstitious practice, somewhat dubious. Nevertheless, God accepted his attitude, even if his theology was a bit muddled.
But there is another aspect here. The things that we choose to surround ourselves with are the things that impact us the most. We are influenced by people that we look to. Our focus inspires our action. We become like the people and things that we direct our attention to.
The concept for Jacob, was that by looking at something stripy, the animals would produce stripy young. For us, if we look to God, his word, and all things good, then we will be inspired to live well. But we need to be careful. How many murders have you ‘witnessed’ on TV this week? What sort of life is your favourite celebrity living? Are your friends influencing you for better or for worse? Is the subject matter of the computer games you play entirely wholesome?
We used to sing a little song at Sunday School:-Be careful little eyes what you see’ Be careful little eyes what you see, There’s a saviour up above who is looking down in….
anger? judgement? jealousy? retribution? disgust?
Love, actually. Real, concerned love. Doesn’t that give you a taste for focusing your thoughts, mind, attention, eyes, ears and every other part of you on what is good? Don’t you just want to please him?
If you want to be lovely, focus on lovely things.
Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”