With our house on the market, my husband and I regularly spend time looking at online real-estate sites. Planting a church 35 miles away, we eagerly anticipate the day when we will be able to live in the community where we will be ministering. As we wait, we could easily fall prey to the temptation of “if . . . then.” If You promise us success, we will go; if You promise us a great house, we will move. But a commitment to “if . . . then” does not set a strong foundation for weathering seasons of uncertainty.

Running from his own deception (Genesis 27:5-34), Jacob was desperate to know that his future would still be intact. Like Jacob, we know in principle that God can be trusted to fulfill His promises and provide for our needs. But, like Jacob, we often live out an “if . . . then” existence in an attempt to make life safer and more predictable (Genesis 28:20-22). At Bethel, he said, “If God will . . .” and “if He will provide.”

We’ve all prayed something like this: “God, if you move on my behalf and fulfill my request, then I will give You more of me.” But when we make these types of promises, we are in some way questioning God’s plans. As if signing a contract with another person, we leave ourselves an exit clause. God, however, isn’t into contractual agreements. He’s the God of covenant relationship (Genesis 28:15), one that is exemplified by sacrificial love (John 3:16).

Accustomed to manipulating so that he might get ahead, Jacob didn’t yet understand that God wasn’t going to let the promise of a great nation (Genesis 15:5-7) rest on an “if . . . then” agreement. God wanted Jacob’s love. So He wrestled with Jacob, not to defeat him but that Jacob might become God’s glory revealed (Genesis 32:24-32).

NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Luke 1:57-80