When morning came, it was Leah! And Jacob said to Laban, "What is this you have done to me? Did I not serve with you for Rachel? Why then have you deceived me?"
I grew up in a family of tricksters. There was so much jostling, joke-telling, and teasing it was sometimes hard to know who was telling the truth. And the tricks: short-sheeting beds and pulling chairs out from under someone who was about to sit down were common place.
I loved hearing my grandmother’s story about her nephews who loaded her purse with restaurant flatware—which spilled out when she tried to pay her bill!
So it is easy for me to identify with Jacob’s character in Genesis. He is the ultimate trickster. But some of his tricks are sinister, like stealing his brother's birthright from their aging almost-blind father, Isaac. Because of that dark deed, Jacob has to leave home and flee to Haran, to the home of his uncle Laban.
When Jacob sees Laban’s daughter Rachel at a well, it is love at first sight. He makes a deal with Laban to work for him for seven years in exchange for Rachel’s hand in marriage, and Laban agrees, but on the wedding night, Laban arranges for his older daughter Leah to enter the marriage tent instead of Rachel. In the dark, Jacob consummates the marriage. Jacob, the ultimate trickster, has been tricked himself!
Laban agrees that Jacob can also marry Rachel, but not right away, so Jacob, with no more tricks up his sleeve, must wait. He does wait, and gradually the young trickster takes on responsibility and begins to mature. He will always be clever, quick, and skilled, but I wonder: When Laban in essence put a mirror before him, did he finally see that there are parts of life that one cannot make light of? That integrity is a better life companion than clowning?
In our family, most of us did learn that lesson. We still love to laugh, but now it’s more at ourselves than at others. We know that speaking honestly and clearly is as valuable as telling a good joke.
Thanks to the grace of God working in and through our lives, we tricksters have moved toward richer, fuller lives. But I still laugh out loud at the thought of my grandmother opening her purse in that restaurant!
For life, for laughter, and for love, we thank you, Lord. Amen.
Copyright © 2010 Margaret Jones.