Jacob and all the people with him came to Luz (that is, Bethel) in the land of Canaan. There he built an altar, and he called the place El Bethel, because it was there that God revealed himself to him when he was fleeing from his brother. Genesis 35:6-7
It would be many years before Joshua led the children of Israel across the Jordan River into the Promised Land. But in our passage today, God placed a stake in Canaan. Even though Jacob would later move his family to Egypt to survive a famine, and Israel would stay there for 400 years before God sent Moses to deliver them, an altar called "Bethel" (House of God) was standing in the Promised Land. The promise given to Abraham continued.
Sometimes God's promises are not fully realized in our lifetime. Sometimes we are simply the ones who plant the seeds so that those who come after us can enjoy the harvest. Someone has said that the true meaning of life is to plant trees under whose shade you do not expect to sit.
In our "What are the benefits for me right now?" world, few are willing to make an investment that will not earn benefits for themselves. Those on the journey of faith have a different mindset. We are willing to invest in eternal things. We must be willing to plant trees so that those who come after us can enjoy the shade ... and plant trees of their own.
Father, shake us loose from "what's in it for me" thinking. Encourage us to make the sacrifices today that will impact people tomorrow. In Jesus' name. Amen.