Where we left Jacob: We last saw Jacob the morning after he had wrestled with God’s angel all night long. The angel touched Jacob in the hip in a way that made him lame, and in a way that changed him as a man. From that point forward we see very little of the conning and conniving that we saw before Jacob was touched.
The story of Senna vs. Prost
Ayrton Senna was a race car driver prodigy. He began racing the Formula 1 circuit when he was just 24 years old. There was an almost childlike humility about him, a rare character trait among Formula 1 drivers. Senna was well loved around the world and especially in his native Brazil. Famous for his ability to drive on a wet track, at Monaco, in his first year driving F1, he was in thirteenth place when it began to rain, after which, he passed the next eleven drivers ahead of him, in a such a short time, that it appeared his victory was inevitable. However when the leader, a Frenchman named Alain Prost, realized his victory was threatened, he signaled to race officials that he felt the race should end because of the wet conditions. It was an interesting request because the rain had actually let up some at the time. Many suspect the real reason was because he knew that if the race continued, he would lose to Senna. Race officials did end the race and Prost finished first, Senna second. Although Senna actually passed Prost just before the finish line, but the red flag had already been shown.
A few years later Senna joined the McLaren racing team which already had as one of its drivers, Alain Prost, the same driver who signaled to end the Monaco race before Senna could pass him. The two seemed to get along well in their first year as teammates, but during their second season together, envy crept in. Senna and Prost’s mechanics stopped sharing information with each other. Both drivers found themselves looking over their shoulder, wondering if the other guy was getting better treatment, and a better car to race. By the last race of that second season, Prost and Senna were leading all other drivers on points by a wide margin, with Prost in first and Senna second. All Prost needed to win the world championship was for Senna not to finish. On the forty-seventh lap Prost appeared to have an opportunity to run Senna off the road and he appeared to take it. Both cars seemed to be too severely damaged to continue, which didn’t matter to Prost, who was assured of the world championship, no matter what, as long as Senna didn’t finish.
However, even with the front end of the body of his car badly damaged, Senna was somehow able to make his way back to the race course. As soon as Prost saw that Senna was back on the track, he immediately made his way to the race steward’s office where he had a conversation with the president of the Formula 1 racing circuit, who just happened to be French, as was Prost.
The delay from the crash had caused Senna to fall back to the middle of the pack but he charged hard and in almost miraculous fashion, won the race and with it, the world championship–or so it seemed.
The award ceremony at the podium was delayed. Things had become political. It appeared that the French president of the F1 racing circuit was looking for some means of ensuring that the French driver Prost would win the world championship. A decision was made to disqualify Senna on a technicality.
Not only was Prost named the winner of that years world championship, but in spite of video tape evidence to the contrary, Senna was blamed for the crash, fined $100,000, and suspended from racing for six months.
The very next year, at the last race of the season, Prost and Senna were again the only two in contention for the world championship. Only this time, Senna was ahead on points, and only needed for Prost not to finish to assure himself the world championship. At the very first corner, Senna had an opportunity to run Prost off the road…
Sadly, he took it. Both cars were unable to continue. And by virtue of the fact that Prost did not finish, Senna won the world championship.
What an opportunity Senna had! What a tremendous chance to show grace to another!
What an opening that was for reconciliation!
The Story of Jacob vs. Esau
Having just left the angel, and feeling the effects of his touch on his hip, Jacob is limping along when he looks up and there he is, Esau, coming with his four hundred men. So Jacob divides up his group, he takes his wives’ handmaidens and he puts them in front with their children, then he positions his wife Leah and her children next, and then his wife Rachel, and her only son Joseph, in the rear. Jacob himself goes on ahead and bows down to Esau seven times, bows all the way to the ground, as he approaches him.
But to Jacob’s surprise, Esau runs up to meet Jacob and gives him a bear hug; then he throws his arms around his neck and kisses him. They’re both so overcome with emotion at their reconciliation that they break into tears. Then Esau looks up and sees the women and children and asks, Who are these people?
Jacob answers, They’re the children God has graciously given your servant.
Then the female servants and their children approach and bow down. Next, Leah and her children come and bow down. Then, last of all, Joseph and Rachel come, and they bow down too.
Esau asks, So what’s up with all of these flocks and herds I encountered before you?
To find favor in your eyes, my lord, Jacob answers.
Esau says, I already have plenty. You should keep what you have for yourself.
Jacob quickly responds, No please! If I’ve found favor in your eyes, please accept these gifts from me. Because to see your face is like seeing the face of God, now that you’ve received me with welcome. Accept my present that was brought to you, for God has been gracious to me, and I have all I need.
And because Jacob is so insistent, Esau accepts his gift.
Then Esau says, Let’s be on our way, I’ll accompany you.
But Jacob says, My lord knows that the children are slow, and that I have to care for the ewes and cows that are nursing their young. If we drive them too hard, even for a day, all the animals will die. So let my lord go on ahead, while I travel slowly, at the pace of the flocks and herds, and the pace of the children, until I come to my lord in Seir.
Esau says, Then let me leave some of my men with you.
Why do that? Jacob asks. Just let me find favor in the eyes of my lord.
So Esau heads back to Seir. But Jacob, instead of going to Seir, travels to Sukkoth, where he builds himself a place and makes shelters for his livestock. That’s why the place is called Sukkoth, the word means shelters.
Later, Jacob made it safely back from Paddan Aram to the area of the city of Schechem in Canaan. He bought a piece of ground, from the sons of Hamor, for one hundred pieces of silver, within sight of the city of Shechem and there he pitched his tent.
There also, he set up an altar and called it El Elohe Israel, which means Mighty is the God of Israel.
Why You Need to Reconcile
Unlike Senna, I admire how both Jacob and Esau let the past go and moved forward with reconciliation. Jacob’s manipulations, Esau’s murderous threat, they both left them in the past and reconciled.
Maybe this blog post is for you. Perhaps there’s someone in your life who you need to reconcile with. It’s been said that holding a grudge is like drinking poison, then waiting for the other person to die. Reconciliation is huge. It’s a tremendous blessing. And the one who’s blessed the most by far, is the one who’s doing the letting go. I’m thankful that Jacob and Esau let go of their past and worked toward the restoration of their relationship. I wonder what might have happened between Senna and Prost, had Senna passed on his opportunity to knock Prost out of the race.
The need for reconciliation can be caused by all sorts of things. When my wife and I used to do foster care we received training in what causes emotional problems in the kids whom we cared for. I found it interesting to learn that even worse than abuse, neglect does the most damage to a relationship.
Jacob did not neglect his relationship with God. After he arrived at his destination, he built an altar and called it El Elohe Israel, meaning Mighty is the God of Israel. Reconciliation with God wasn’t needed because, as we have seen, during his journey Jacob remained in communication with God, and here at the end, he builds an altar, he remains engaged in his relationship with Him.
Could it be that you need to be reconciled to God? Could it be that you’ve been neglectful of your relationship with Him? Do you think of your relationship with God in the abstract? You’ll be blessed beyond your expectations, if you choose to change that and think of Him as the Person He is. No relationship is more important. There’s no better way to invest your time and energy. What would your relationship with your spouse be like, if you invested the same time and energy you do in your relationship with God? How long would your marriage last? How long would it be before you woke up and took concrete steps toward spending more time with her, investing more energy in him. You desire relationships with others, and God, Who created you in His own image, desires relationships with others too — He desires relationship with you. “You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends…” Jesus said. (John 15:14-15) God is a person. Jesus Christ is a person. He’s the most important person there is in your life, and He desires close friendship with you. Perhaps you recognize this to be true in your mind, but what about your heart?
I would encourage you to pray. Pray right now for Christ to turn your heart toward Him. Pray for His Holy Spirit to come upon you and to make your relationship with Him, one that’s rich, and deep. Pray for it daily.
You’ll be tremendously blessed if you do. You’ll miss out on so much if you don’t.
Reconcile yourself to Him.
Come near to God and he will come near to you.
[You might also like: Senna Part 2--Teach Us to Number Our Days]
[Image via: @lozanopuche - Creative Commons]