Signposts: Daily Devotions

Friday, September 26

Then Jacob woke from his sleep and said, “surely the Lord is in this place—and I did not know it!”
—Genesis 28:16

The Rev. John R. Claypool was one of America’s most beloved preachers. He spoke and wrote eloquently from his heart, comforting and inspiring countless people.

Over and over, he said, “There is nothing we can do to make God love us more than God already loves us and nothing we can do to make God stop loving us. The One who is behind all things is nothing but love, always has been and always will be.” Those words are from his marvelous last book, God the Ingenious Alchemist, which he wrote during a remission from cancer.

In this book, Claypool traces the Genesis stories revolving around Jacob and his sons with an eye to how God worked in their lives, even in the harshest circumstances. Jacob was a wily fellow, hardly the stuff of Biblical heroes. He deceives his brother Esau, cheats him out of the family birthright, and then immediately has to flee for his life. That night, he camps out on a rocky hilltop, alone and afraid.

Claypool writes, “Jacob probably was ashamed and regretful about the past, uneasy about the present, and fearful and apprehensive about the future.” Lying there with a rock as his pillow, Jacob dreams a fabulous dream, in which a ladder descends from heaven, and God says that he is with Jacob and always will be, in spite of everything Jacob has done.

Utterly astonished, Jacob wakes up. “Surely God was in this place, and I did not know it,” he says.

Indeed, God was in that place, and is in all places, says John Claypool, whenever we awaken to “the endless graciousness that has always been present but, until then, unperceived.”

O God, whose mercies cannot be counted, accept our prayers on behalf of John Claypool and all people who have opened our eyes and hearts to your constant and abiding presence. Amen.

The Signposts for September are written by Margaret Jones and originally appeared on explorefaith in 2005.