Monday, February 16, 2009

The Second Seven Years

Jacob . . . loved Rachel more than Leah. And he worked for Laban another seven years (Genesis 29:30)

To read how they first met is to get a picture of awkwardness. Jacob saw Rachel at a distance and was immediately smitten. Did he ask around, get her address, learn who her friends were, finagle an introduction? No. None of that. We’re told that Jacob simply walked right up to her and kissed her and then . . . he wept. I think he could have done without the weeping, but the ancient world had its own ways of wooing women.

The bottom line is stated crisply in Genesis 29:18. “Jacob was in love with Rachel.” He was so in love that he agreed to work for Rachel’s father for seven years so that he could marry her.

The seven years flew by (Gen. 29:20). Jacob’s love for Rachel burned hot and the years melted. The wedding day arrived. A week of feasting and celebrating and apparently a liberal amount of imbibing. Laban, Jacob’s father-in-law managed to give his other daughter to Jacob on the wedding night. Jacob woke up, rubbed his eyes and saw Leah next to him. Leah was the plain older girl. Rachel couldn’t marry before Leah did.

Jacob was told he could also have Rachel – but it would cost him. Laban wanted seven more years of work. Jacob agreed. I’ve always thought Jacob had to work the extra seven years before he could have Rachel. The Bible doesn’t say that. After the first week of marriage to Leah, Jacob also took Rachel as his wife – but he owed Laban. Seven more years.


Sometimes you get what you’ve always wanted, but it costs you more than you ever imagined. Sometimes you get what you’ve longed for, and in the process get more than you bargained on.

For Jacob it was seven more years of servitude to Laban – and Leah thrown into the household. He had Rachel, yes. But at a cost.

You get the promotion and the trappings that go with it – but it costs you at home and places more problems on our desk during the day and they stay on your mind at night. The job is your Rachel.

After years of trying, a baby is on the way. There is joy – even though the pregnancy becomes dangerous and you’re on bed rest for months. The baby is your Rachel.

The first seven years are sustained by passion and dreams and deep longing. They fly by in anticipation and hope. The second seven years are different. In the second seven you have what you wanted – and now you’re keeping a promise; living a commitment.

Many of you are living the second seven years today. You’re up and at it because someone is depending on you. You’re doing what you said you would do, doing what you have to do. This isn’t bad, but it is ordinary. It’s what we’ve been calling the “everyday.”

God is at work in the second seven years. The story of Jacob’s marriage to his dream girl isn’t a very pleasant story, but it is a story that God authors. God is actively accomplishing his purposes in Jacob’s difficult life. God does the same in your life, even in the second seven years.

Gracious God, you are true to you word, faithful in all things, loving us with a steadfast love. Give us the grace we need to be like you in the details of this day, we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

1 comment:

Victoria said...

I never thought of that Bible story being such a good analogy for a marriage - we go through phases of passion and phases of day-to-day living.