The kingdom of heaven is like a man whose hip is thrown out of joint so that he has to stop running.

It’s hard to say when exactly Jacob began running.

It seemed in his own mind that he had always been ducking & dodging, always evading anyone who got too close, always running to find a piece of life that he could call his own.

Maybe it began at the very moment of his birth, when brother Esau was held up proudly as Isaac’s firstborn son while Jacob was pried from his twin’s heel. Isaac could have celebrated the gift of two sons in one birth — a double blessing from God — instead Isaac chose only one son. Maybe that’s why Jacob learned the dash & dance of guardedness. Maybe that’s how he came to value self-reliance above all else.

And so Jacob was restrained around his mother, but accepted her favoritism and influence toward his self-sufficiency.

Ducked & dodged his brother, but accepted his birthright in exchange for soup.

Ran from his father, but first accepted his blessing while wrapped in goat’s skin.

Avoided trust with Laban, but accepted the opportunity to build his wealth.

Guarded too with God, but accepted God’s presence for the journey in the hopes that one day he might even stand on his own without God.

But then God threw his hip out of joint, saying, “No more will you duck & dodge. No more will you evade and run. No more will you trust only in yourself for survival and success.

“It’s time to face your brother.

“Time to face your father, your mother.

“Time to face your uncle and your wives and your children.

“It’s time to face me.

You will no longer run; now you will learn the slow pace of covenant. You will no longer hide and strive for your own good; now you will limp in community for the good of others. You will no longer be called ‘one who struggles‘; now you will be called ‘God struggles.’

“And Jacob? I have struggled long enough with you. No more running. Now we walk together.”

The kingdom of heaven is like a man whose hip is thrown out of joint so that he has to stop running.


The beauty and truth of story is found in its ability to speak in new ways, no matter how familiar the words. Scripture is full of such stories for me, familiar tales that offer new truths & always-needed truths over and again. This piece is the first in a series of three short reflections listening for truth in the stories of Jacob and his wives Leah & Rachel.

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