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When It's Time to Go

Words by Cara Ray | Illustrations by Marie Warner Preston

Sometimes we think being in the centre of God's will is synonymous with easy. But as Jacob discovers in Genesis 31, more often than not, the path of obedience also involves testing. And it's in the testing that we learn whether we are really willing to trust God even when life is uncomfortable.

We couldn’t shake our feelings of restlessness. After countless hours of talking, praying, and weighing all the factors, we decided it was time for our family to make a fresh start in a new state. But almost as soon as the decision was made, we started to experience major roadblocks. We thought we were walking in obedience—why was it so hard? Had we misunderstood the Lord? We couldn’t see it then, but God was making a way—we just had to wait for the right timing.

Jacob is in a similar situation in Genesis 31. For twenty years, he has faithfully served his uncle, Laban. But the temperature of the relationship has cooled, and Jacob overhears his cousins complaining that he has gained his wealth illegitimately from their father. The Lord confirms it is time to move on, telling him, “Go back to the land of your fathers and to your relatives, and I will be with you” (v.3).

Six years earlier, Jacob had tried to leave at the end of his initial contract, but Laban knew the Lord was blessing him because of Jacob and begged him to stay (Genesis 30:27). Now, the situation is different: God is making a way for Jacob to go back to the land of his forefathers—but that doesn’t mean it will be easy to cut ties with his uncle.

As Jacob discusses the move with his wives, he recounts how God has blessed and prospered his service: When Laban offered Jacob the speckled lambs for payment, the flocks produced more speckled, and when he offered him the streaked lambs, the flocks bore more streaked . A miracle! Regardless of Laban’s antics, God faithfully sees to it that Jacob’s household prospers. But this should come as no surprise to Jacob, for this is exactly what God said to him at Bethel.

Years earlier, God promised Jacob in a dream that He would give him land, descendents, and make his seed a blessing (Genesis 28:13-14). He even promised Jacob he would not be alone, assuring him, “I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you” (v.15). Jacob also made a vow to God, declaring that if God would go with him and provide all that he needed, then the Lord would be his God (v.20).

Now it is time for Jacob to act on what he promised. God is making a way, and He has provided all that Jacob has needed in the past. The question is, will Jacob trust Him in all the uncomfortable parts of the journey that lies ahead?

When life transitions happen, we should expect our faith in God to be stretched. That was certainly our experience when we felt God moving us to a new state. We did eventually get there, but it wasn’t in the timeframe we anticipated. Now in hindsight, we can see His timing was better than our own, and it grew our faith and trust in Him in the process.

When it’s time for you to move on, you can trust God to speak and direct your steps. Jacob knew God would eventually return him to his homeland—it was just a matter of timing. And just as God promised Jacob that he would be with him wherever he went, He will be with you also. No matter where you reside, if you have the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob going with you, you are never alone—and that is the greatest reassurance of all!

Where is God stretching your faith right now? How is He inviting you to trust Him more in this time? Take a moment to thank Him for the gift of His faithful presence as you navigate this transition.

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