The Person You Were Made To Contain
By Tobin Crenshaw
It was Adrian Rogers who shared, "Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you're willing to pay." One of the places this truth is most clearly expressed is in the story of Jacob. Jacob, whose name means "one who deceives" or "one who trips", is of course known for deceptively gaining the birth rite of his brother Esau, thus entitling him to a double inheritance and to the priesthood of the family. In keeping with his name, he deceived his brother Esau, and later on his own father Isaac. This would lead to him being on the run for over two decades as his brother swore he would kill him out of revenge.
While away from his home and family, Jacob has an infamous dream about a ladder to heaven. Though he intended to grow rich, he found himself alone in the desert with a stone as his pillow. After his heavenly vision, he worships God for his grace, and then turns the pillow into an altar by anointing it with oil and names that place Bethel, the house of YHWH. Unfortunately, for Jacob the law of reaping and sowing would come back on him hard, and his sin and deception would soon leave him open to being taken advantage of by his uncle Laban. It is one of the grandest stories of "what goes around comes around" in all of biblical history (Genesis 28). In the end after much trial and tribulation, Jacob trusts in YHWH and finds grace and mercy, and perhaps most of all the love he had been craving his entire life. However, due to his failures it was a long road to get to where he should have been all along.
It was the Apostle Paul who prayed "that Christ may dwell in your hearts" (Ephesians 3:17). The key word is dwell, not visit. The life of Christ is a habitation, not a visitation, thus the secret to overcoming sin and failure, to find our stones turned into altars, is the life of Christ lived inside of us. As Norman Grubb often shared, this is the secret to living, that we are containers of a Person, and that means we are never on our own. As Grubb shared, "A crisis comes to me. No, no it doesn't. It comes to us!... weak? Of course I am weak; but there is somebody inside of me who isn't."
It took a long time for Jacob to come the end of himself and learn he was not meant to live life on his own, but rather to live life as an expression of Christ living through him. Had Jacob understood that, he would not have been afraid of his brother Esau, because he would have realized it was not Esau facing him, but it was Esau facing him and Christ in him. Our job is to be the container, his job is to live his life through us so that in all things we are more than conquerors.
Ready for your stones to become altars? Surrender to the fact you can't and were never meant to live this spiritual life in your own strength. Rather surrender to his life in you, and allow him to express himself through you as you take on the mind of Christ, and rest in his completed work. As Augustine said, love God and then do the next thing. Life is so much simpler when we simply let him take control.
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