May 7, 2022 • Life for Leaders
Scripture—Genesis 28:15-17 (NRSV)
“Know that I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Then Jacob woke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place—and I did not know it!” And he was afraid, and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”
His presence is all we need—in the factory or office, in transition to retirement, in a new city, in a new failure or incomparable success. Whether we are awake or asleep, God is quite active and never sleeps. It is good to know that He has been here all along.
Jacob’s journey took him to sleep on a rock, and there he found the reminder that God was with him. I have two wonderful kids that didn’t always want to go to bed when they were younger (or yesterday for that matter.) They came by it honestly though. So when they were young I used the same principle my godfather used on me when I was young. I wanted to stay awake because I did not want to miss out. He would pull me into his arms and say “You do not have to go to sleep, you just need to be still.” Somewhere in that stillness, sleep would rise up and do its perfect work—and I would wake up and scowl at my godfather as though he pulled a fast one on me.
We go to sleep expecting to miss out. But Jacob realized that not even sleep can separate us from the love of God. There are no tricks from God toward Jacob. God came to Jacob who laid his head on a rock and reminded him of ancestral promises (Genesis 28:15). Jacob saw a stairway with angels traveling up and down it (28:12). (Later Jesus will have more to say about this ladder to someone else resting under a tree, in John 1:51). Jacob caught a glimpse of what God can do and who he is. You do not need to be in the most comfortable of dispositions or circumstances for God to give good things to you. That is, after all, how grace works.
Aren’t you glad that God does not wait for us to be cognizant of His presence for him to be present? It is great to realize what it really means when Jacob says, “Surely the Lord is in this place – and I did not know it.” In a garden, or in a strange new land, or in new relationships, or even while you are asleep, it is good to know His presence is all we need—in the factory or office, in transition to retirement, in a new city, in a new failure or incomparable success. Whether we are awake or asleep, God is quite active and never sleeps. It is good to know that He has been here all along.
What are the words and reactions you see from Jacob when he realizes he’s not the only one there?
How does your approach to your work, neighborhood, household, and people change if you believe “Surely God is in this place and I didn’t know it”?
Who is tired around you? Find the weary soul around you. Consider “God is in this place and I didn’t know it.” Decide to be present and to be still. Ask God what to do to serve your neighbor.
Father, we adore you for finding us. And we thank you for plainly demonstrating that whether we are in a garden or wilderness, in our native land or a foreigner, in a family or sold away, in occupation or displaced, awake or asleep—you are still fully capable of being with us. Make me then, the kind of person—in keeping with the kingdom promises—that anticipates your involvement, because we are less likely to reside in a spirit of fear if we rekindle the wisdom of the kind of father you are. Dear Immanuel and Father of all of mankind, remind us in our own words of the psalm writers’ words. Amen.
Drop Thy still dews of quietness,
Till all our strivings cease;
Take from our souls the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of Thy peace.—John Greenleaf Whittier
Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the High Calling archive, hosted by the Theology of Work Project. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: A Family for All Families
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DeLano J. Sheffield is the Business Resource Specialist for Goodwill of MoKan where he connects to people on the fringes, training them to reach their full potential through learning and the power of work; he also is on the frontlines of the advances of the fourth industrial revolution and coaches leaders on diversity, inclusion, and accessibility. He began his career as an architectural engineer then went on to attend seminary. In every part of his life he finds ways to infuse theology into vocation, and strengthen practical connections of faith and daily activity. DeLano lives in Kansas City, Missouri.