Yesterday, I suggested making a pile of rocks. This story is one reason.
Jacob saw angels. And a ladder. And angels on the ladder. And God. God told Jacob that he would have kids, that he would own the land, that he would be safe.
And then Jacob woke up.
It was a dream. It was the kind of dream perfect for a young adult running for his life. Jacob had extorted the rights of the firstborn from his brother. He had conned his dad. The night of the dream, Jacob was on his way to his mother’s family, since his dad’s side of the family was too close to home. He slept in the field. He used a rock to give his neck a break, to give his head some warmth in the Palestinian night. The idea of having a family, owning the land, and being safe were, well, like a dream.
Jacob’s first reaction to the dream was excitement. His second was fear. His third was to sleep. And as the sun came up, he took his pillow and set it on end. It looked like a little pillar. It would stand out if he ever came back.
And then he prayed like many of us would. “God, I don’t know if it was a dream or a vision. I don’t know if you were making me promises or if it was my imagination. So I’m setting up this pillar as a reminder between you and me. If I ever make it back here, and you have kept your word about protecting me, then I’ll know it was really you. And this stone will be your house. And I’ll give you ten percent of everything.”
It took twenty years before Jacob got back to that stone. One day God said, “Go back to the stone.” And he did. With his family. Safe.