Words by Adéle Deysel | Illustrations by Marie Warner Preston
Two brothers, only one blessing. Genesis 27 invites us into a story of favouritism, striving, and deceit as Jacob and Esau are pitted against each other to secure a father's blessing. Sadly, this same spirit of competition infiltrates many of our relationships today. But it doesn't have to be this way if we will only learn to rest in the timing and heart of our promise-keeping Father.
In my teens, I received a promise from God that I would lead worship on an international stage. My excitement in knowing that God sees me faded as my limitations became my focus. Surrounded by talented musicians and vocalists, I felt my gifts lacked in comparison. I began looking to the world to accept me but instead felt invisible and overlooked. I was crushed. With everything inside me, I clung to my promise, but in the process, I lost sight of the Promise Giver.
In Genesis 25, while she is pregnant with twins, God says to Rebekah that “the older will serve the younger” (Genesis 25:23); it is a prophecy that contradicts the tradition of the birthright belonging to the eldest son. Rebekah and Jacob, her favourite son, later set out to attain the promise through deceit, tricking Esau into selling Jacob his birthright and Isaac into blessing him first. Then Jacob runs, leaving a trail of destruction behind and ahead of him.
The same rivalry we see in Isaac’s family is often seen in God’s family. When we build our life around a promise, it can lead to chasing our own idea of what it should look like. We risk compromising our character and values and can end up competing with one another to see our promise realised.
Jacob and Esau both have uniquely created destinies and will become great nations (Genesis 25:23), yet this promise is overshadowed as their lives revolve around the birthright-blessing. Our rivalry with others is often fuelled by what we believe to be the more important promise. When we turn our focus away from God and onto ourselves, division sets in, and we lose sight of the promised destiny for us all. Each of us has a ‘birthright-blessing,’ and we were created with the end—and the path to get there—already known to God (Ephesians 2:10). Forcing that promise into fulfilment, however, is not only unwarranted but also harmful, because it places the emphasis on the promise instead of the Promise Giver.
The value of a promise lies in the one that makes it, and God proves His faithfulness time and time again to Abraham and his family. If Rebekah and Jacob had only been patient and trusted God’s timing, the outcome of their story could have been different. Jacob's price for his deceit is high and unnecessary; he would have received the blessing anyway, because God promised it.
God is faithful. I knew this in my own story, but discovering the reality of that truth came from being broken and lost as the process of immigrating to New Zealand caused me to question my purpose and identity. In our search for a new church, all I wanted was to blend in; I wanted my life to pass by as unnoticed as I felt. But in my darkest days, I desperately reached out to God and began to understand that I was known, accepted, chosen before I was created (Ephesians 1:4-6). As my dependence on God increased, so did my passion to serve Him. God, my Promise Keeper, set into motion the fulfilment of His promise for my life when He prompted me—at the right time, with the right heart—to join our worship team.
My identity had to be redefined before my promise was realigned.
God has uniquely predestined each of us, there is no need to strive and fight against each other (or ourselves) to accomplish it. Our focus should be on our personal relationship with God, grounding our identity in His unrivalled love. This will empower us to sincerely celebrate with others, even our ‘rivals,’ when they succeed.
God will fulfil His promise for our lives—in His good timing.
Is there anyone that you see yourself as being in competition with? Ask the Holy Spirit to show you what is fueling these feelings of insecurity and rivalry, then spend some time thanking God for the purposes He has for both of you.