22 That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two female servants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23 After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. 24 So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. 25 When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. 26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.”
But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”
27 The man asked him, “What is your name?”
“Jacob,” he answered.
28 Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”
I always go back to Jacob. Whenever I feel weird or too distant in my prayer time, I go back to him. He’s just so confident in his relationship with God. He took his father’s blessing from Esau. He fled the land and worked for Laban for decades for Rachel (and Leah), poor Leah always in parentheses. He pleads when he prays, but he prays with conviction. He amassed a fortune and eleven sons.
This night that he wrestles with God is the eve of his homecoming. And forces are gathering. Esau has sent 400 men to greet his long-lost brother and we can assume it’s not to throw him a high five. Naturally, it’s going to be a restless night for Jacob. But even in his uncertainty, even in the face of terrible odds, he fights God because he’d rather be fighting him and near to him that giving up and being alone. I believe there couldn’t be a night better spent than in an epic struggle with our faith, one that leaves us battered and bruised but blessed.
I do not wrestle enough with my God. I tip toe up to him, now and again, and ask quietly and with all due respect, could you please do “x/y/z” and thank you for “x/y/z”. For better or worse, I’ve got to get angry or desperate for my prayers to get real. This is what it takes for people like me to open up. I’ve got to get Old Testament angry. It works the same way in the real world. I can fight passive-aggressively with the best of them if I let myself. You won’t know what hit you but you’ll want to wipe that creepy smile off my face and you’ll wonder how many ways there are to interpret the words, “I’m fine.” But the guise slips when I get really mad. Suddenly, there’s emotion behind my actions. Forget the game-playing, let’s talk (or fight) this thing out, nose to nose.
That’s all God wants of us. He wants a little fighting spirit. Because when you fight for something you care about it. If I’m spitting mad at my husband for getting home late from work it’s because I want him near me. I want more time. I want. The saddest ending to a day would be the one when I don’t care. Jacob wrestled for his blessing because he knew the power of God. He’d fought many battles before, and he knew that fight in the darkness was the most important of his life.
I’m going to try to drop the pretense with God. I’m going to talk and talk without censoring my feelings, because what kind of censor bar can you place in front of God? What thoughts in your head and your heart can you black out so that the Omniscient doesn’t see? I think he’d appreciate the honesty. I think he’s been rolling his eyes for a while now and I don’t want to run the risk of falling for my own act. I don’t want to be stuck playing the girl who doesn’t care.
Sunday Thoughts Link Up!
It’s time for another Sunday Thoughts Link-Up! I know there are many out there with wisdom that could encourage all of us. As long as it’s Biblically-based, I’d love for you to join up and then read and comment on what others have shared. Please also leave a comment here. Think of this as a Sunday morning community group that comes to you. And grab the button if you like…