Joseph reveals himself to his brothers in this passage, and then sends for his father to come to Egypt. He provides for the practical needs of the elderly and smaller children to travel and works to reunite his family.
Jacob is, naturally, a bit unsettled by all of this. After all, he has believed Joseph is dead for two decades. He determines that he will go down and see Joseph before his death.
But on the way, he makes an important stop. At Beer-sheba, he makes sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. This is the first time in a while we have seen Jacob offer sacrifices. One might think Joseph's apparent death had put a hold on Jacob's relationship with God. (It is impossible to be certain, as we don't have all the details of the last 20 years.)
Here, though, he takes the step back. In this incident, it is Jacob's actions that bring him back into a relationship with God. He offers sacrifices and then God speaks to him. God gives him permission to go on down to Egypt and a promise that he will come back from Egypt. Now, when you read on, you'll see that he came back to be buried, but still, he came back.
Let's take this to heart. Jacob already knew God, had already experienced God's presence and His grace. This is not the first time Jacob has spoken with the Lord God.
But, like so many of us, he appears to have drifted over the years. Nowhere in their response to the famine does it appear the family seeks God. Nowhere do they ask God about buying grain from Egypt. Instead, they have just done what made sense to them at the time.
When our life gets aimed in that direction, we have to make the adjustment. The Christian life is not about waiting for God to do all the work--that is not what grace is about. (See Dan Phillips' wonderful The World-Tilting Gospel about "Gutless Gracers.")
Instead, we have to take a step in the direction of repentance. God will not take that step for us--He took the step to the cross. He took the step of saving us. He has the right to require us to take steps of repentance after our salvation.
Now, keep in mind that this is between you and God, not you and some other person. God sets the parameters of repentance, not mankind. You belong to Him, though after you have worked through the issues between you and the Lord there may be steps of relationship mending between you and other people.
The question at stake, then, is do you need to take a step of repentance? Has it been a while since you have heard from the Lord God?
We have the advantage over Jacob, because our hearing from God is as simple as opening the Word of God and seeing what He said. It's often the same action that shows our repentance: blow the dust off the Bible and read it! God speaks.
Let us not neglect that opportunity, but instead rise to it. Let us take up the Word and see what God promises, see what our walk of obedience entails and then go do it.