Then Jacob woke up and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I wasn’t even aware of it.” He was afraid and said, “What an awesome place this is! It is none other than the house of God—the gateway to heaven!” — Genesis 28:16-17
Jacob, on the run from his brother, alone in inhospitable territory, settled down for the night with a rock for a pillow. It was hardly the most comfortable set of circumstances! But he had brought this situation on himself.
We have no knowledge of his thoughts as he settled down for the night, but we do know that he could not have anticipated what happened. In a dream he was given a pictorial reminder that God and His angels are actively involved in the affairs of men on earth. The Lord told him in that dream that he could count on the Lord’s presence at all times and that the Lord had great plans for him that He was committed to bringing to pass.
On waking, Jacob exclaimed, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I wasn’t even aware of it” (Genesis 28:16). It’s not surprising that he was unaware of the Lord’s presence, because no doubt he was absorbed with his own schemes and anxieties. It took a dramatic dream when he was all alone to arrest his attention and focus his mind on the presence of God.
Amazing, isn’t it, that we who think we know so much don’t even know the presence of the Lord at times? In our world there are so many distractions—far more than in Jacob’s day. The one who spends all his time amid the tensions and clamors of life may not be conscious of the Lord’s presence, particularly if he is carrying the cares and consequences of past actions. The one whose conscience is weighed down with his actions and whose life is burdened with the consequences is not usually super conscious of the Lord. But the Lord is present nevertheless.
Accordingly, we need to find a quiet place where the Lord can speak the truth to us in love. If the only time He can arrest our attention is while we are sleeping, then we are probably too busy and our minds are too full of “the cares and riches and pleasures of this life” (Luke 8:14). But if he does arrest our attention, we will be struck with the awesomeness of the Lord. And then we will, like Jacob, respond with a refreshed commitment of service and allegiance to the God who was there all the time—even if we didn’t know it.
For further study: Genesis 28:10-22
Content taken from The One Year Book of Devotions for Men by Stuart Briscoe. Copyright ©2000. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.