January 26, 2021
Genesis 29:18-20
Jacob was in love with Rachel and said, “I’ll work for you seven years in return for your younger daughter Rachel.”  Laban said, “It’s better that I give her to you than to some other man. Stay here with me.”  So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.
New International Version (NIV)
                One of my students at Truett Seminary was a pastor in Ghana.  He told us about the custom of paying dowry to a family to marry their daughter.  I asked how much they paid.  He observed that often a man in his area of Ghana gave one cow to the bride’s parents as a gift.  I must have chuckled when I said, “The boy who is dating my daughter owns seventeen cows.”  My student asked sincerely, “How many cows would he have to give you to marry your daughter?”  I answered with a straight face, “He doesn’t have enough cows.”  I was joking.  Sort of.

                Marriage customs vary widely in our world.  When we read the stories from Genesis we are alternately bemused and bewildered.  Our modern world is so very different from the ancient one.  But in some ways, the more things change, the more they stay the same.  In our reading today a young man and young woman fall in love and want to marry.  They meet at the same well where Jacob’s mom met Abraham’s servant.  Once again animals are watered.  Eventually, Jacob asked Laban for his daughter Rachel’s hand in marriage.  But he had to work seven years for Laban in order to marry her. 

                In a season of engagement, time may seem to stand still.  But Jacob was so in love that seven years felt like a few days.  Melanie and I have now been married for thirty-six years.  She might say that the time we have shared felt like five minutes . . . under water! 

                As Jacob married Leah and Rachel and built their family with so many children, they saw God’s providence at work.  God brought Jacob to the right well at the right time.  God moved Laban to allow his daughters to marry Jacob.  God blessed Leah, Bilhah, Zilpah and finally Rachel with children.  Sometimes, in the day to day work of raising a family, we may not easily recognize God’s hand at work.  Marriage is hard work.  So is giving birth to and rearing children.  But if we are patient, there are also rewards. 

                These days, Melanie and I sit near a fireplace and think about our kids raising kids.  We have a thousand memories of vacations and baseball games and dance recitals and volleyball games and dances and dogs and turtles and guinea pigs and tears.  We listened to their stories, prayed with them at the table, and on occasion we prayed with our faces on the floor.  Sometimes, if we listen closely, we can hear the laughter echoing in the walls.  Though we couldn’t always see it in the moment, God was providentially at work in our family.  Looking back, we can only say that God has been good to us.  We are grateful to our gracious God.  He has been here, through it all, and he always will be!
Pray with me the words of a song:         
Father, “we have won.  We have lost.  We got it right sometimes and sometimes we did not.  Life’s been a journey.  We’ve seen joy and regret.  And you have been our God through all of it.  Looking back we see you.  Right now we still do.  We’re always going to.”  And we thank you.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.  
Scripture memorization for this week:    
2 Corinthians 10:12
We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.
1 John 3:18
Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.
New International Version (NIV)
Our 2021 Every Day with Jesus readings will follow the Foundations Bible reading plan.  Copies of the reading plan are available at Tallowood Baptist Church, or download your copy here:
https://www.tallowood.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/Read-Through-Bible-Download.pdf
We would love for you to join us as we read through the Bible in one year, while still having the flexibility of reading 5 days per week.  In addition, I will continue my long-standing practice of reading one Psalm a day through the year.  We will also memorize 2 scriptures each week.  As we journal together this year,  Robby Gallaty’s H.E.A.R. plan is a good resource: Highlight a verse that stands out to you, Explain what it means, Apply that truth to your life and Respond to what you’ve read with an action or prayer.
Joyfully, 
Duane 

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