The text for yesterday's sermon was the story of Jacob wrestling with God in Genesis 32, but that is not what caught my attention. I skimmed ahead to Genesis 33 because I wanted to remind myself what happened when Jacob actually met his brother Esau again. (To remind you, Jacob had tricked Esau out of their father Isaac's blessing by disguising himself. Jacob then fled so that his [twin] brother would not kill him. It has been many years since they parted under such bitter circumstances.) What really caught my attention in the Scripture yesterday was Genesis 33:13-14:
But Jacob said to him [Esau], "My lord knows that the children are frail, and that the nursing flocks and herds are a care to me. If they are driven hard for one day, all the flocks will die. Let my lord pass on ahead of his servant, and I will lead on slowly, at the pace of the livestock that are ahead of me and at the pace of the children, until I come to my lord in Seir. (ESV)
I love this. Jacob could have been so concerned with pleasing his brother that he focused on the opinions of others rather than what was good for his family. He instead chooses to move at the pace of the nursing flocks and herds. For anyone who has experienced how much time nursing takes or how speedily small children move, you know that this is not a quick pace.
God knows that children and families with nursing infants do not move quickly. He designed it that way; it doesn't surprise Him. (Though I think it often surprises us.) If He made it that way, then it is OK with Him to move at the appropriate speed. We do not need to race our children through life at a breakneck pace that is hardly healthy for us adults, much less the children who live with us.
Jacob leads his family on slowly, at the pace of the children. What a beautiful picture of a father and his family. Leading yet not rushing. This is an excellent reminder for me. Am I moving at the pace of my children? And if I'm not, is what I'm rushing towards (or rushing them towards) really that important?