Signposts: Daily Devotions

Monday, May 5

Take heed lest your heart be deceived...
—Deuteronomy 11:16

In one of the greatest deceptions in all of scripture, Jacob impersonates his twin, Esau, in order to receive a deathbed blessing from their father, Isaac. Though physically very different from his brother, Jacob pulls off the ruse by covering his smooth hands and neck with goat skins, thereby making them feel more like Esau’s. Old and blind, Isaac falls for the masquerade even though he admits that “the voice is Jacob’s voice.” As a result, he ends up giving his blessing not to his favorite son, Esau, but to the imposter, Jacob.

It’s hard to find a villain in this tale. Earlier in the story, Esau quite willingly trades his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of stew. Isaac allows himself to be duped, not trusting his own senses to tell him the truth. And Jacob, encouraged by his mother, deliberately fools an old and ailing man. Examples of dysfunction abound.

If anything, this family’s saga reminds us how appealing deception can be. Believing what we want to believe, we avoid problems by explaining them away—or better yet, by denying they exist at all. Ignoring the truth in our hearts, we may pretend to love our work, to be confident in our faith, to feel completely fulfilled. Such illusions are hard to give up.

And yet, through creative self-examination, we can learn to do just that. Seeing our spiritual journeys depicted in words or music or art is a way of seeing what is. It’s a means of renouncing illusions, trusting that the God who knows us better than we know ourselves can satisfy our deepest desires.

O God, help me give up any illusions that keep me from acknowledging my hunger for you.

The Signposts for May are written by Susan Hanson and originally appeared on in September 2004.