When my beloved and I are going on a trip, I set out my suitcase a week before. Each day, I add essential items. The suitcase swells with every passing day. After clothes and toiletries, I begin to fill it with just-in-case items. By the time we are ready to go, my bag is stuffed with things we may or may not need, but we’ll have just in case.
Last week, we went to Alabama for a few days. I had several bags of essential items. One of them held a French press.
When we read Genesis 31, it appears that Rachel, Jacob’s wife, had the same problem with packing extra stuff. The saga of Jacob and his family had continued for 20 years. Now he was preparing to leave Paddan Aram for the land of Canaan with Leah and Rachel (his two wives), and their children. On the way out of town, Rachel grabbed her father’s household gods. Into the camel’s saddle they went. The group — including livestock — traveled to Gilead where Jacob’s father-in-law, Laban, overtook them 10 days later. He was looking for his daughters AND the idols.
It was a tense scene as Laban contested Jacob’s departure. His speech ended with news that the household gods had been stolen. Jacob was shocked. “What do you mean…?!” he challenged Laban. “You can search whatever and wherever you want!” he insisted (paraphrased). Laban plundered the tents but found no idols. (Rachel was sitting on them, claiming she was indisposed and unable to get up.) Everything was searched; Laban found nothing. Jacob made a covenant with his father-in-law, and they parted company.
Whoever said the Bible is boring?!
Slipping out of their father’s house, Rachel and Leah had rounded up their kids in a hurry. As in any crisis, you grab what you can as you run out the door. I get that. But your daddy’s household gods?!
As I read the story, I wonder what was going through Rachel’s mind. Did she take the idols (plural!) in case Jacob’s God didn’t work out? She’d had no real history with the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob — only her husband’s say so. Her life hadn’t been working out as she hoped. She was the second wife to Jacob and had planned for many more children than the one she had. Was she afraid to trust in the God she could not see? Did she keep them as good luck charms? Did she think they would give her peace/comfort in their new land? They are described as her “father’s” household gods, not “her” household gods, so that’s a good thing — right? She was leaving the old ways, the ways of her father, behind.
When life is hard, it’s easy to turn back to old ways. Fearful of what lies ahead, we can be tempted to cling to other things and people to find the peace and comfort that only comes from trusting in the Lord.
I won’t judge her, but I can learn from her, asking myself: When I am uncertain … when I am in crisis, do I fully rely on God alone?
I wish I could hug her and say, “Oh Rachel, God can be trusted even when you have no clue what His plan is!”