It should have been my moment of triumph. I had outsmarted my brother and got away with it. The blessing I had hungered for with every breath and heartbeat was mine. I had never understood why Esau should be entitled to it just because he shoved his way out of the womb first. He only wanted it because it was his, just like, all his life, he had wanted anything that he grabbed first, or that he could take from me. Possession was what mattered to him, as it had from the moment we were conceived. Right from that moment there had been a strange, rarely articulated, competition between us, and in some unintelligible way, Esau was always keeping score. Yes, ok, I admit that I was just as competitive as he was, but I kept score very differently. He could have all the trash along the way, the only thing I desired was the blessing and the birthright – his perquisites as the firstborn which for him weighed in the scales at the same value, or slightly less, as a bowl of lentil soup.
So here I was, having tricked him out of the blessing, and now fleeing for my life under the guise of seeking for a wife from our own people. And I had never felt so desolate in my life. I had obtained my heart’s desire, and now my heart was hungrier than ever before. Only now, in the lonely spaces of the desert road, could I face the question that really haunted my heart: if the blessing was obtained under false pretences, how much was it worth? And whilst my father had spoken his words of power over me, was god in agreement, God who could see through every disguise and before whom every secret desire of our hearts was laid bare? Would he turn the blessing to cursing? I realized then that all my hunger for the blessing, all my cheating and conniving, was not really about Esau at all. I wanted God’s favour as surely and completely as I wanted the sun and moon to rise in their appointed times.
My head hurt with the spinning questions, and I was glad when the sun set and I could choose a suitable stone for a pillow and simply lie down and rest. I closed my eyes, wondering if sleep would elude me. But I slept, and in my sleep I dreamed, and in my dream God spoke to me and brought me his peace.
In my dream there was a mighty ladder reaching all the way from the earth where I lay into heaven itself, and the presence of the Lord, and between heaven and earth the angels of his mercy were ascending and descending. And God himself, the God of my father Isaac and his father Abraham spoke to me, the least of their descendants, as I lay there in the dirt, and he promised to me, in the sickness of my shame, the same glorious promises, the blessing that mattered more than life and breath. Even though my journey was in the opposite direction to my forefather’s, God would be with me and would return me to this place. And my night was turned to day, and my heart commenced its long journey into worship.