- He was stressed with the responsibility of caring for his nephew Lot and his family, whose values and goals differed from his own.
- After the birth of his two sons, Ishmael and Isaac, the tension in his family over sibling rivalry erupted into major conflict.
Many times in his life, Abraham could have succumbed to the "if onlys." He was a traveling man with a large household, much wealth and much stress, but he had his priorities right—he pitched his tent and built an altar in all the moves of his life (Gen. 12:7-8; 13:2-4,18; 22:9).
Through it all, he was committed to the course in his pursuit of God. He isn't known as the "father of the faithful" without reason.
If you are committed to the chase, somewhere along the way your "if onlys" will become "in spite of."
Had we known Jacob, his 12 boys, Dinah, his daughter, and his extended household, we would have labeled them a dysfunctional family. Few parents have suffered a rougher ride with their kids than he.
You could name almost any perplexing issue, and Jacob could tell you about it from firsthand experience. He faced family problems, work problems, devastating disappointment and tragic events. But his commitment to pursue God at any cost kept him in the chase, even though he had to run with a limp.
A limp is not necessarily an indication of failure; it can be a badge of success. For Jacob it was a reminder that he refused to give up his hold on God during an all-night wrestling match (Gen. 32:22-32).
Jacob's passion pushed him to gain the birthright, even though, at the time, he was probably motivated for material rather than spiritual reasons. In a time of extreme family stress, his pursuit of God intersected with the very door of heaven (Gen. 27-32).
Pursuit Under Pressure
It is surprising how often God is found in the rock-hard places of life. Surely Jacob would not have chosen this process, but there is no doubt that his pursuit of God, along with the pressures from his mother, father, brother, uncle, wives and children transformed him from a fast-talking, manipulative man into a prince with God.
At Bethel, which means the "house of God," Jacob envisioned a ladder extended toward heaven with ascending and descending angels (Gen. 28:10-19). Peniel, the site of his wrestling with an angel, means the "face of God." Both locations became for him points of course correction.
Esau, his brother, had no limp; neither did he have direction. Scripture calls him "profane" (Heb. 12:16, NKJV).
Jacob's passionate pursuit of God gave limited access to much in his life and served as a course corrector to keep him on track. His struggle was worth it. He—not Esau—gave his children the legacy of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Even the apostle Paul was a survivor of multiple crises and stresses (2 Cor. 11:23-28). Yet he stayed on course by the strength of his commitment. He "resolved to know nothing...except Jesus Christ and Him crucified" (1 Cor. 2:2, NIV).
Wistful longing for freedom from the common disturbances of life will never take you to the finish line in your pursuit of God. This was not the experience of the saints before us nor will it be ours.
However, commitment to the priority of your relationship with God will become the stabilizer in your pursuit. It does not come preset or prepackaged. Constant course corrections will be needed
Staying On Course
The Apollo space mission to the moon was on course only 1 percent of the time. It was constant course correction that made the mission a success.
A statement Jesus made has kept me going at times when I felt more like a plodder than a racer. With many distractions around Him and people trying to deter Him from His purpose, He said, "In any case, I must keep going today and tomorrow and the next day" (Luke 13:33).
Jesus was steadily moving toward the fulfillment of His purpose, one day at a time. Direction is more important than speed.
We've all come to understand that the only constant in life is change. Therefore, to a God-chaser, course corrections in the chase are essential.
Your children's requirements will change. Your babies need you; your toddlers demand you. Your teens practically ignore you, and your grown children move on beyond you.
Doesn't it make sense to give priority to the one thing that never changes? No matter the distractions, "Come near to God and He will come near to you" (James 4:8).
Thetus Tenney has been in active ministry for decades. She served as international coordinator of the World Network of Prayer for the United Pentecostal Church. Thetus and her husband, T. F. Tenney, live in Louisiana.
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