The desire for achievement is natural and healthy yet when misguided by unrealistic expectations it becomes dangerous. Many children expect to accomplish what it took their parents years to earn in a fraction of the time. ‘Give me the house, the paid off car and the stable, rock-solid marriage without the process of hard work and sacrifice’ is the mentality of many. There are parents who are now asking themselves the question: “Have we destroyed our children by making their lives too easy?”
Proverbs 15:33 states: “The [reverent] fear of the LORD [that is, worshiping Him and regarding Him as truly awesome] is the instruction for wisdom [its starting point and its essence]; And before honour comes humility.”
There is no higher place we can occupy than to be identified with Christ in character. In the beginning Jehovah declared “let us make mankind in our image.” Genesis 1:27 and since the infection the mission has been: ‘let us restore mankind back into our image.’ Ephesians 4:24; 2 Corinthians 3:18.
Let’s remember the fisherman-turned-apostle Peter who had to descend into the place where his confidence in himself was shattered before he arose to fill an influential role within the foundation of the Christian movement.
Let’s also remember King Nebuchadnezzar who descended from his position of power into a place where he fared little better than the hogs and cattle he owned. After he learned humility it was said of him: “But at the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my understanding and reason returned to me; and I blessed the Most High [God] and I praised and honoured and glorified Him who lives forever, For His dominion is an everlasting dominion; And His kingdom endures from generation to generation.” Daniel 4:34
Now let’s remember that Joseph who had great dreams of rising to incredible heights descended to the experience of being forsaken by his brothers, separated from his father, a prisoner and slave before he became a prince and ruler in Egypt.
And how about Jacob whose name was changed to Israel? Let’s take a moment to revisit his life experience from Genesis 25-32 to better understand the process of descending before rising.
Genesis 25 – Issac pleaded on behalf of his barren wife Rebeccah who then gave birth to twins: Esau and Jacob. Esau was the father’s favourite and Jacob was his mother’s favourite. The Divine revelation given to the parents was that the oldest would serve the youngest.
Genesis 27 – As Issac was preparing to breathe his last breath and enjoy his final meal he commanded Esau to receive the blessing. Rebeccah forcefully intervened and instructed Jacob to deceive the father in order to claim the Divine blessing which he did; his brother found out and was ready to kill him resulting in Jacob moving to another country.
• Rebeccah demonstrated that she was willing to achieve the Lord’s will by her own might. Sometimes we place our confidence in our own works without even knowing that we have removed our trust from God and placed it in ourselves. Jacob, meaning supplanter or deceiver, was taught to live the same way. Confidence in craftiness and charisma was ingrained in the fabric of his entire makeup. How was he then going to fulfil the spiritual duties that accompanied inheriting the birthright (the birthright and father’s blessing meant more than material wealth; it also meant fulfilling the role as priest in the family)?
Genesis 28 – Jacob had a vision where God said to him “Behold I am with you and will keep you wherever you go and will bring you back to this land; I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.” Verse 15
• He vowed at Bethel that He would trust in God as long as God keep His word. This was probably the first decision he made as a man outside of the direction of his mother.
Genesis 29 – Jacob fell in love with Rachel and made a deal to work seven years for her. He woke up next to Leah and realized that the cup of deception and craftiness was now his to drink. He worked seven more years for Rachel before being cleared by his uncle of his time.
Jacob spent a total of twenty years working for his uncle Laban and within that time he gained the experience that had made him into a man whose trust was in the God of his fathers instead of charisma and craftiness. On his way home, as he prepared to face his brother Esau, Genesis 32 reports that he wrestled with God and prevailed. During the encounter Jacob stubbornly requested a blessing in which his name was changed to Israel which means Prince of God. What blessing could he have asked for considering that he had wealth and family? I think he was asking to be purified from the guilt and fear that accompanied returning to his brother and facing his past. Suffering and hardship helped shape his character and establish his faith in the living God. Only then was he equipped to stand in the honourable position of priest of his family. Before we can ascend to the heights that God has for us, we must descend to the depths necessary for us to receive our preparation.