Jacob was one of those unfortunates, saddled from birth with a difficult disposition. He was born gripping his twin brother’s heel, trying to tripping him up and get ahead. That was the trajectory of his life—wheeling, dealing, double–dealing, grasping, grabbing, jerking people around in order to gain selfish advantage. Yet God was not ashamed to be called “the God of Jacob,” a phrase that occurs several times in the Bible.
Jacob is reminiscent of those who come into life with a pervasive tendency to go wrong, who live in hereditary hells—saddled from birth with insecurities, insanities and sinful predilections; who are addicted to food, sex, alcohol, drugs, spending, gambling or work; who have disturbed and difficult personalities; who, as C. S. Lewis once put it, have a “hard machine to drive.”
But no matter. God loved Jacob. As the man himself put it, “God has been my shepherd all my life.”
God knows all our weary stories and all the sources and possibilities of evil in our natures. He knows the patent facts of our lives and the latent forces—the hurt and the heartbreak that others cannot see and which cannot be explained, even to our closest friends. He’s aware of the reasons for our moodiness, our temper tantrums, our selfish indulgences. Others may be put off by our personalities, but God never turns away. He sees beyond the prickliness to the broken heart. His understanding is infinite.
It’s a matter of indifference to him how damaged we are or how far wrong we’ve gone. Our vileness does not alter his character. He is eternal love—“the same yesterday, today, forever.” We may not be what he wants us to be, but we are not unwanted. If we will have him, he will be our shepherd.
Fredrick Buechner marvels at the folly of God to welcome “lamebrains and misfits and nit-pickers and holier–than–thous and stuffed shirts and odd ducks and egomaniacs and milquetoasts and closet sensualists,” but that’s the way he is. Whatever we are, wherever we are, his heart is open to us; “Love surrounds us, seeking the smallest crack by which it may rush in.”
Isn’t it odd
That a being like God
Who sees the facade
Still loves the clod
That He made out of sod?
Now isn’t that odd?