Introduction: After many years, Jacob is returning to Canaan. Jacob left behind an angry brother. He is worried that Esau may attack his family. He divides his family so that they will not be attacked all at once, leaving him with nothing. Jacob has nothing to worry about, however. Esau meets him with open arms and tears.
Reading: Genesis 33:1-9
Jacob looked at the containers on his grandmother’s kitchen counter. There were little boxes of sandwiches, fresh vegetables, and fried chicken. There were jars of pickles and olives. There was even a bag of cookies. It was all getting packed into the picnic basket so that they could have lunch in the park with grandfather.
Grandmother was standing at the kitchen table with the picnic basket open in front of her. First she lay a towel at the bottom of it, then called, “Jacob, come help me fill the basket, dear.”
Jacob carried the items to his grandmother and helped her place them in the basket. Grandmother was so good at getting everything to fit. She put the boxes and jars in first, then lay the bag of cookies on top. “That way, they won’t get crushed,” said grandmother. Then she winked and said, “Although, I suppose they’ll taste just as good crushed as they do whole!” Then she frowned and said, “Oh, dear. I still have to pack forks, plates, and napkins.”
Jacob peered into the basket. “There’s not any room left,” he said.
Grandmother went to the pantry to get her paper plates and napkins. “I know, honey. We’ll have to take something out. What do you want to leave behind?”
“Anything but the cookies!” Jacob said with certainty.
Grandmother laughed and took out the jars. “I think we can leave these behind. That will make room for the other things we need, plus a thermos of ice and some plastic cups.” Jacob returned the jars to the pantry, and together they finished packing the basket.
As Grandmother latched the lid of the basket, she said, “You know, Jacob, our hearts are like this picnic basket. They can only hold so much. We can fill them with goodness and thankfulness, or we can fill them with anger and hate.”
“I know God wants only good things in my heart,” said Jacob.
Grandmother nodded. “When we have good thoughts and feelings in our hearts, then we won’t store up the other things that make us so miserable. We won’t waste our times being so angry and sad. We can spend our time being joyful, kind, and forgiving.” She sat down so that she could look Jacob in the eye, then took his hand and smiled. “Sometimes it’s very hard to forgive someone who has hurt us. But if our hearts are already filled with thankfulness and joy, there’s very little room for holding on to anger. Can you help me remember to fill my heart with good things like God wants, just like you helped me fill this picnic basket?”
Jacob hugged his grandmother and said he would!
For Further Study:
- Read Matthew 5:21-24. What does Jesus teach here about loving our brothers? What does He teach about forgiveness here?
- Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. Now put your name in place of where it says “love” in all these verses. Would these verses be true about you?
- Make a list of your many blessings, big and small. See if you can fill the page. Mark this page for times you need encouragement!