By Mary Vee
Jacob continued moving his family through the mountains toward his home. With all the children, herds, servants, and belongings, their progress was a little faster than a rout of snails crossing a beach.
Jacob met with some of his servants that night. "I need you to take a message to my brother in Edom. Tell him: I have lived with Uncle Laban until now. I have oxen, donkeys, flocks, and male and female servants. I am sending these messengers to ask if I have found favor in your sight."
The servants nodded. "We'll leave right away."
Many days passed before the messengers returned. Jacob's hands felt sticky from sweat. His heart pounded.
He called the messengers over. "What did my brother say?"
"He said he is coming to meet you. We watched him gather 400 men."
Jacob trembled. He's bringing 400 men? Surely he plans to kill all of us. What am I going to do?
Jacob stopped the camels and found a place to set up camp. The children ran around
playing games while the mothers made dinner. Jacob walked out a ways from the camp with a few trusted servants."
The children's laughter sounded above the donkey's braying. Jacob chuckled. "If only I knew they would be safe."
A servant nodded. "What would you like to do?"
Jacob stroke his beard. "I'm thinking if we divide all the people, flocks, herds, and camels into two companies, some will survive. When Esau comes to the one company and attacks, the other group will have time to escape."
"Good plan. If you'd like I'll divide the animals."
Jacob sighed. "Yes. Yes, that would be fine. I'll divide the people. Jacob took a few steps further. "You can return to the camp. I'll be back in a little while."
Jacob walked a distance further. The sun had set, leaving a red and orange glow in the sky.
He fell to his knees and let his head flop into his hands. "O God of my father Abraham and Isaac. You are the Lord who said to me 'Return to your country and to your family, and I will deal well with you.' I am not worthy of the mercy and truth you have shown me. I crossed over this Jordan River. Now I've become two companies. Deliver me, I pray, from the hand of my brother. I'm afraid he will come and attack me and my family. O Lord, You said, 'I will surely treat you well, and make your descendants as the sand of the sea, which will be so many it cannot be numbered."
Jacob knelt quietly for a few more minutes then stood. He took a deep breath of the cool night air. A few birds twittered in a nearby tree.
Although his mouth was dry and his hands still sticky, his heart slowed its beat. He turned back to the camp and saw his son Reuben walking toward him.
Reuben waved his arm. "Father, dinner is ready."
Jacob tipped his neck back and forth. The stiffness had left. He smiled. "Good! I'm starved.
As Jacob ate he announced to the family, "Tomorrow we'll meet my brother, Esau. Since our group is so large, it will be difficult for my brother to greet us all. We'll split into two groups and rejoin further down the road. Get a good night's sleep, I want you to look good tomorrow."
What did Jacob do when he became afraid? How did that help him? Click on the comment button to tell of a time when you were afraid.