Steven Furtick — Hidden Issues
There comes a time in your life where you've gotta make peace with Esau. See Esau is the one, let me teach you a little bit, Esau was the one that Jacob had struggled with, but never prevailed against his whole life. Esau was the one that Jacob pretended to be to get what he thought he needed to have. Esau was the one that Jacob even subconsciously and prenatally had problems with. He was predisposed to wrestle with Esau before he had a conscious thought. And now he's 97 and he's preparing to meet with Esau.
If you have a Bible with pages there's probably a heading on chapter 32 of Genesis that says, "Jacob prepares to meet Esau". Because there comes a time, that no matter how much God has blessed you, and no matter how much you've grown to accumulate stuff, or no matter how good your body looks, or no matter how fit you are in your physique you cannot outrun your dysfunctional relationships forever. One of the greatest blessings that God gives is peace. If you want to pray for anything pray for peace. Because if all of your prayers center around provision if you have the provision but not the peace you have the external stuff without the internal infrastructure to even enjoy what you prayed for. Pray for peace. And the greatest blessing that God gives us often has little to do with the resources He provides, but the relationships that He restores.
And so, we're looking at an Old Testament picture in Genesis 32 of Jacob who has been able to pivot his whole life. Pivot so when he gets in trouble at home he goes to his uncle Laban's house. When he accidentally marries Leah after serving God for Rachel seven years. He's able to pivot and get Rachel anyhow. When Laban begins to cheat him, and the Bible says, "His heart turned against him". Jacob was able to have the business savvy and the common sense to devise a system by which he could stay ahead. But Esau is that enemy. Esau is that thing that he's been fighting against and fleeing from his whole life. By the time he prepares to make peace with Esau he's been hiding from him for 21 years.
And I want to ask a question, what are you hiding from? It is the central question of my discourse today. And I believe it's a penetrating question if you'll really answer it in your heart. What are you hiding from? Because no matter where Jacob turned, or where Jacob went, what Jacob did, what he accomplished. There was always Esau. It's the battle that he was fighting when he was nine months old. It was the battle he was fighting when he was 97. What is your Esau? What is the thing that no matter how many herds, and cattle, and goats, and relationships you acquire, there is always an Esau. It is your hidden issue.
It is not the thing that you mention to the people in your E-group. It is not the thing that you talk about to people you just met. It is the thing beneath the thing, beneath the thing. It is not your behavior, it is not your symptom. It is your issue. Church is ineffective when preachers only address behaviors because until you get to the issue that creates the behavior the behavior will manifest because the issue wasn't healed. What are you hiding from? Your heart may be in hiding because of your fear of rejection. Your heart may be in hiding because of your fear of failure.
I understand why Jacob had issues. It's pretty plain in the text. Well, the Bible says that there was a lot of favoritism going on in Isaac's household. In fact, I'll show you the scripture in Genesis 25:28. It says that, "Isaac his father who had a taste for wild game loved Esau, but Rebecca loved Jacob". There it is. No wonder the guy spent his whole life in hiding. Because from a very early age he discovered that he didn't have what his father wanted. He didn't have the skills to be acceptable in the sight of the ones whose affirmation meant the most.
And when that happens to you, you develop all kinds of devices to hide behind. Psychologically they call this abandonment issues. And they say that when you have abandonment issues it can happen through a divorce, it can happen through abuse, it can happen through love withheld, it can happen through a circumstance that is so embedded that you can't even remember what it is. But when you have these abandonment issues they tell us that you tend toward two extremes. One is attachment and the other is avoidance. So, you attach. This is Jacob grabbing the heel of Esau. Or you avoid, this is Jacob running from that same brother that he was trying to attach himself to.
One thing I love about God's word is that it doesn't just address my spirituality. It addresses my psychology. In Jacob I see an illustrated sermon about the psyche of someone who is running toward and chasing something that they can never get. Meanwhile, running from something that they don't want to face. And I believe every person in our church can relate to Jacob. Hiding from an Esau in your life. Hiding and hoping, hoping that no one sees you for who you really are. So, you invent methods by which to be impressive. That's what Jacob did. He makes a plan. He makes a plan to hide his issues. He gets his messengers.
You gotta understand, in the last 21 years Jacob was not struggling. Jacob was prospering. Jacob was succeeding. Jacob was accumulating. Jacob was working his way up. And by this time Jacob is very rich and he's got a lot of kids so he's on the external level doing pretty well for himself. So, what he does, and I think we all do this, is he tries to use what he's accumulated to hide who he is. You know it's the right amount of quiet today. I can tell I'm on that nerve. I'm up in your stuff. Touch your neighbor say, "Come out of hiding. Come out of hiding. Come out of hiding".
Yeah, because Jacob gets a strategy, he gets a plan. He calls his messengers. He's got a lot of people working for him. He's got a lot of representatives and he calls his representatives and he says here's what I want you to do: Line up the goats and line up the rams, and line up the camels, and line up the cows, and line up the bulls, get some donkeys male donkeys, female donkeys, put the servants out there. And he arranges what's around him to hide what's within him. "Maybe Esau will accept me if I send him a goat. Maybe Esau will accept me if I send him a donkey. Maybe people will like me if I make 'em laugh. So hahaha I'm the life of the party".
When I get alone what I had out in front of me can't help me for the battle I have to fight within me. We all have herds that we hide behind. It is those things. It is those inauthentic personality traits that you project, fearing that who you are is not enough. How could it be enough? "Isaac never loved me". How could it be enough? "Nobody has asked me to marry them yet". How could it be enough? "I'm the last person invited". How could it be enough? "I sound stupid when I talk". How could it be enough? "I don't know what other people know". How could it be enough? "I wasn't raised right so now I'm hiding behind my hurts".
And it can be money. Some people hide behind money. It can be labels some people hide behind labels. It can be brands some people can hide behind brands. It can be language. Some of you talk in a way that is not even indigenous to your personality. And I'm listening to you trying to figure out who you're mimicking. I put something in my book. I'm gonna preach on my book in two weeks. You gotta come it's be great. I'm gonna preach somethin'.
My mom asked me one time when she heard my band play and she listened to the concert and we did all kinds of cover songs from Darius Rucker, from Hootie and the Blowfish, and Eddie Vedder from Pearl Jam, and Kurt Cobain from Nirvana, and all these great bands the kind of music you just can't get any more out there in the cold streets of today's modern society. But she said, "Sounded good tonight". 'Cause I was the lead singer. She said, "I got a question. When are we gonna hear you sing"? She said, "Tonight I heard an imitation Hootie. I heard somebody trying to sound like Pearl Jam". But it's kinda hard to sound like Pearl Jam when you just hit puberty. But see, what I was doing was I was trying to project what I thought would impress. And you cannot be blessed when you're projecting to be impressive. You can't be really blessed that way. Jacob had a plan. He said, "I got issues with Esau, but if I send my gifts..".
This is why I preached it at a pastor's conference. I told the pastors that I was preaching to in California, I said, "Your gift can only get you so far". Because if you're good with a microphone, you can hide behind a microphone, and suck as a husband. Hide behind a microphone and be absent as a father. Hide behind a microphone and inwardly not have a real connection with God and be preaching stuff that God showed you 13 years ago because you mastered the technique. And I ministered that to the pastors. And it was real tense in the room. Because anytime God peels back your persona, anytime you can't do what you do, and you have to come to terms with who you are. Puts you in an awkward position. But that's the place where God blesses you the most.
Not while Jacob was lining up the cattle. Not while Jacob was configuring the cows. But the Bible says, I gotta show it you again, it's so beautiful. I love the way that the scripture weaves together the historical narrative and brings it into alignment with my current psychological condition to show me that there is a way forward no matter what I've been through. It's saying, that Jacob thought — look at verse 20, "Jacob thought I will pacify him with these gifts". I will pacify my problem with my persona. I'm not gonna make peace with it. I'm just gonna pacify it.
So, I develop ways to get through. I'm real sarcastic and the reason I'm sarcastic is because if I'm sarcastic I don't have to be sincere. So, I hide behind sarcasm. And people think that I'm cocky but what they really don't know that they see as overconfidence is really just a little girl scared to death because I'm hiding behind my hurts. People think I'm arrogant but what they really don't know is the reason I'm coming across so strong is because I'm scared to death that they're gonna find out that I'm a fraud and I don't know what I need to know. So, I'm hiding behind my hurts.
And there's Esau. This issue everybody say, "Issue". It remains hidden behind my hurts and what I hide God cannot heal. I cannot make peace with what I am content to pacify. So, I'm sending out my best. I'm sending out my stuff. I'm sending out all my stuff and maybe then they'll like me. And maybe then they'll love me. And maybe then if I buy 'em stuff, then I'll buy 'em stuff. Maybe that's what I'll do. Maybe I'll sleep with him. If I sleep with him then maybe I can keep him. If I give him my body maybe, then he'll give me my heart. I'm gonna hide behind my hurts but the only problem with this approach to life is what you get 'em with is what you have to keep 'em with.
So, if you get 'em with a fake you what are they gonna do when they see the real you? Man, help me preach this sermon! It's those hidden issues. I'm encouraged because the Bible says that when Jacob sent his gift ahead he remained alone in the camp. And to every lonely person today I want to encourage you to know that the places of your greatest isolation often become the places of your greatest revelation. Jacob had seen God in the form of an angel when he was with people, but he only saw God's face when he was all alone. Separated from his stuff. He sent his gift ahead, but he himself spent the night in the camp. And God dealt with him. And God pushed him around a little bit. And God brought him to his breaking point.
So much so that the Bible says when he got done and he left that camp he was limping. He was limping, but he was blessed. His hip was dislocated, but his identity was now securely in place 'cause he found out who he was. God said today through the preaching of His Word He was going to restore unto you an awareness of your identity. Because you've gotten so enmeshed and entangled with your stuff and your skills that you've lost your sense of substance, but today is the day that the hand of God is upon you heavy to show you who you are! Wow!
So, he crossed the ford. Look at verse 22, "He crossed the ford of the Jabbok". Say what? The who now? The Jabbok. Jacob crossed the Jabbok. Let me try it like this. All his life he thought he was fighting against Esau. For 21 years he thought he was running from Esau, but God showed up to show him that the only real enemy that he was ever fighting against — See, I've learned this because, I want to digress for a minute, that the real enemy is not the issue I see. Your life will change. Your marriage will change. Your relationships will change when you stop trying to fix Esau. Jacob crossed the Jabbok.
Do you think those two sound similar on accident? Do you think that there is a sense of poetic justice in the mind of God that He wants to show us that all the time you were running from Esau, all the time you were running from issues, all the time you were running from relationships, all the time you were running from fears, the only issue is you! And if you can get right with you, you can get right with God and if you can get right with God, God can make it right with Esau! Touch three people, tell them, "Get over yourself". That's the real enemy. It's the enemy in me. It's the Jabbok I got to cross. It's my pride I gotta get over. It's my regret I gotta get over. It's my scars I gotta get over. It's not your issue that's holding me back! It's me God! It's me! It's me! I will won't let you go to you bless me.
The practical implications of this revelation are staggering. If the only thing you really have to cross over is your own misconceptions of what it means to be accepted by God you're gonna be all good. Single, you gonna be all good. Married, you gonna be all good. Touch 'em again and say, "Get over yourself". Get over yourself that's my message today. Get over yourself Jacob. If you can get over your conniving, scheming, dysfunctional ways God will fix your relationships. On the other hand, if you don't get over yourself you're gonna carry your issues into your next relationship and your issues are only going to increase when they are multiplied by the human interaction that is required for you to connect with another person when you have not even learned to correctly connect with yourself that's free.
You want right relationships? It's gonna require the right posture. And the right posture is not for you to try to make yourself appear impressive. If you really want to connect with people and stop pivoting from issue to issue you gotta deal with what's within. Come out from behind your herds, and stand before Esau and face your fears, and face your failures, and face your frustration. And when Esau saw Jacob on the ground, he took out his buck knife and put it in — wouldn't that be crazy if that happened next? And Jacob died right there? Wouldn't that be crazy? Isn't that just what you expect is gonna happen if you ever get real and come out from behind what you're hiding behind?
Come on, be honest. You are scared to death that if you ever show the real you if you ever get out from behind all the religious talk because one of the things that people hide behind more than anything else is their religious pretention. Spiritual sounding and seeming stuff. But he comes out from behind it and watch what Esau did. This is like the father in the prodigal son story. This is how God treats every son, every daughter, that comes running home with no excuses, but just an admission, "I have sinned". Esau ran to meet Jacob! And embraced him! The thing that he had been hiding from for two decades was handled the whole time!
I came with an announcement, what you're hiding from has already been handled! The shame, the guilt, the disgrace, the disappointment, the uncertainty. I need you to turn to your neighbor and tell 'em in your best Olivia Pope voice tell them, "It's handled". It's handled. It's handled. It's handled. Come on tell them, five people. It's handled. It's handled. That's the gospel. That He already took my sin. He already took my sin! He already nailed it to the cross! My sin on the place of His glorious Son! My sin! Not in part, but the whole! It is nailed to the cross! It's handled! And you don't have to flee it anymore. You don't have to fight it anymore. All you have to do is face it.