genesis 32: the contingency plan

“Save me, I pray, from the hand of my brother Esau, for I am afraid he will come and attack me, and also the mothers with their children.  But you have said, ‘I will surely make you prosper and will make your descendants like the sand of the sea, which cannot be counted.’” – vs. 11-12

Jacob gave himself the best chance he could. He was afraid of what Esau would do, so he divided his family and his herds into two groups, so that if one was attacked, at least the other group would escape.

For I am afraid. But You have said.

It’s the tension we live, isn’t it? Our circumstance that pulls against the promise of God. The fear that makes us come up with a contingency plan, in case “but You have said” doesn’t happen. It’s a plan to save ourselves from what we fear – having less, loneliness, emotional pain, insignificance, you-name-it-we-fear-it.

In case God won’t save us.

Jacob knew God had made a promise – “I will surely make you prosper and will make your descendants like the sand of the sea, which cannot be counted.“.

But Jacob also knew that Esau had every reason to hate him and want to kill him. His contingency plan was formed from the fear that what could happen would overpower what God said would happen.

Maybe your contingency plan is something you can wrap your hands around, something you can put on paper. But maybe the plan is something way more subtle in its deception.


Why is it so deceiving? Because it looks like surrender and Jesus followers know that surrender is a good thing. But resignation is not surrender, it is actually at the opposite end of the motivation stick.

Surrender is motivated by faith. Resignation (and every other contingency plan) is motivated by fear. And most of us do not know our own hearts well enough to know the motives that are moving us. But God does.

The question is always going to be, are we willing to allow God to reveal what is really going on in our hearts? Our freedom from fear (or anything else, really) hinges on the answer to that question. We have to be willing to look at what motivates us at our core, so that our contingency plans can be scrapped and our resignation can become true surrender to the goodness and faithfulness of a God who keeps His word.

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