Now Jacob heard that the sons of Laban were saying, “Jacob has taken all that was our father’s, and from what was our father’s he has gained all this wealth.” And Jacob saw that Laban did not regard him with favor as before. Then the Lord said to Jacob, “Return to the land of your fathers and to your kindred, and I will be with you.”
So Jacob sent and called Rachel and Leah into the field where his flock was and said to them, “I see that your father does not regard me with favor as he did before. But the God of my father has been with me. You know that I have served your father with all my strength, yet your father has cheated me and changed my wages ten times. But God did not permit him to harm me.”
Then Rachel and Leah answered and said to him, “Is there any portion or inheritance left to us in our father’s house? Are we not regarded by him as foreigners? For he has sold us, and he has indeed devoured our money. All the wealth that God has taken away from our father belongs to us and to our children. Now then, whatever God has said to you, do.”
So Jacob arose and set his sons and his wives on camels. He drove away all his livestock, all his property that he had gained, the livestock in his possession that he had acquired in Paddan-aram, to go to the land of Canaan to his father Isaac. Laban had gone to shear his sheep, and Rachel stole her father’s household gods. And Jacob tricked Laban the Aramean, by not telling him that he intended to flee. He fled with all that he had and arose and crossed the Euphrates, and set his face toward the hill country of Gilead. Genesis 31:1-7, 14-21 ESV
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
In the United States before the Civil War, black slaves sometimes ran away from their masters. They traveled north to Canada, where they could start new lives in freedom. Along the way, they were helped by something called the underground railroad. This was a secret connection of people and places set up to help slaves reach a place where they could be free. There were secret signals, safe houses, and hiding places along the way. Escaping slaves were not alone on their journey north; there were people who helped them stay safe and make it to Canada.
Jacob certainly wasn’t a slave, but life with his father-in-law was becoming very difficult. Laban was no longer friendly to him. God had told Jacob to go back to his home in the promised land, but it would take courage for him to leave. Laban might trick him again. He might try to force him to stay by threatening him in some way. Or he might try to persuade him once again not to leave by making more promises. Laban wanted to keep Jacob because of the hard work he did.
Jacob wasn’t alone when he ran away. God had promised to be with him and to help him along the way. God would make sure Jacob would make it safely home again.
God also promises to be with us as we travel through life. Sometimes things are difficult for us. We might become afraid of things that could happen. Sometimes there are things that hurt us. But no matter what happens, God is with us. He sent Jesus to be our Savior. Jesus is God, who became a human person for our sakes. He lived and died for us, and now he helps us to follow him until we reach our home in heaven.
Dear Jesus, thank you for being with us always, no matter what. Please bring us safely to our heavenly home with you. Amen.