On his way from Beersheba to Haran, Jacob stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven … [and] above it stood the Lord.
– Genesis 28:11-13a (NIV, adapted)
It’s an oddly ethereal moment within the dysfunctional story of Jacob, a mystical interruption of this all-too-earthly tale of family drama.
Here we have Jacob, fleeing the consequences of a con job pulled on his older twin Esau and their father Isaac. The con was easy enough: all it took was a bowl of stew, a plate of meat and bread, a goatskin disguise, and voilà! Jacob stole the family inheritance and birthright for his own. Naturally, Esau promised deadly revenge, so Genesis 28:11-13 finds Jacob en route to his uncle Laban’s with the plan of laying low for a few years.
Fast forward to Genesis 30 and Jacob is working a new con, this time scamming Laban out of family wealth through the art of husbandry. Jacob spends years feeding and breeding Laban’s animals, gradually multiplying the flocks that Laban owes Jacob for his labor while weakening the flocks owned by Laban. Jacob plays the long game against his uncle, making himself a rich man with sheep, goats, camels, donkeys … plus wives, concubines, slaves, and children.
But for a moment between these two massive cons, on a solitary night while traveling from one scheme to the next, with a stone under his head as a pillow, Jacob dreams of God.
Completely flawed, accustomed to dysfunction, running on fear, Jacob dreams of God.
Between a rock and a hard place, caught up in his sins and their consequences, Jacob dreams of God.
Even we, at our most awfully human, can dream of God.
Prayer: No matter how sin-stricken the day or how rocky the night, keep me dreaming of you.
cross-posted at the Daily Devotional