Have you ever read this story which is found in Genesis 32:22-31? I had forgotten about it until last night after I posted about Wresting With God myself.
A quick summary of the story as I understand it is that one night Jacob sends everyone away, sequestering himself to solitude. Once alone however, he is confronted by a man with whom he wrestles with until daybreak. We assume this man is God.
While neither appears to conquer the other, the man permanently injures Jacob’s hip with only the touch of a finger. I think because of Jacob’s pride, relentlessness, and other selfishly humane behaviors, this is God’s way of demonstrating that He could win this battle anytime He wanted to. In essence, I think He was telling Jacob (in not so many words) that if He could do that much damage to him with just the slightest touch of only one finger, then just imagine what else He could do. It seems Jacob recognizes this, just as you and I should to this day.
In this scene, God is mercifully restraining His hand (or power) in the same way that He does with us every single day. You see, God doesn’t wish to win the battle and overcome us simply because of all His power and might. Instead, He desires for us to make a choice to be with Him. He wants us to choose to concede the battle and yield to His will. He doesn’t want to overcome us with His superiority, but rather, He desires us to submit willingly to Him. He wants us to use what is perhaps the greatest gift He ever gave us (besides his Son) which is the freedom of choice.
You can believe our God desires to be wanted and loved too!
I can personally relate to this too, in the sense that while I’ve been seeking relationships, I refuse to be with anyone now who doesn’t freely love me of their own unselfish accord. Another words, I am not begging to be loved anymore. I shouldn’t have to beg for anyone’s time or attention either. Since we are created in the image of God, we can know He thinks and feels the same way about us.
At dawn, the man requests to be released, but Jacob refuses until he is given a blessing. Jacob seems to finally realize that he can’t do this on his own and that the real battle he’s fighting isn’t even with God anymore. He recognizes that he can’t win this war without God by his side.
The man blesses him then by changing his name to Israel. And He said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.” (Gen 32:28)
The Winner’s Circle
It seems to me that Jacob stands in the winner’s circle with God. This was perhaps the greatest battle of his life, as he transitioned from being completely self-reliant, to being reliant upon God (trusting and having faith in Him) and realizing God wasn’t the enemy.
I think it is absolutely glorious when Jacob finally has some small glimpse of whom he was resisting this whole time and how he realizes that he could have God for friend and companion, instead of an adversary. It is a path all of us must travel if we are to really know God and have a relationship with Him.
As I Wrestle With God
This all comes about, because I’m finally learning what the core of my struggle is and why I’ve been left to wonder in the wilderness. I believe God has been showing me, because I’ve finally been able to stop long enough to listen. My apologies if it seems like a jumbled mess, but I know it’s all lining up beautifully even if we can’t see it right now. I can’t believe the timing of the things that have been happening as of late though. Here’s a glimpse of it:
1. I actually become fearful of networking and being forced to reach out, because I’m just so tired and need a break from anymore cases or being thrown back into a leadership position (I decide to network and reach out anyways, but it’s funny how God allowed me to be stripped of everything first just so I’d do it.)
2. Everywhere I go one verse in particular keeps showing up: “I know the plans I have for you” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jer. 29:11) I’ve know of it, but never seen it much before, but I kid you not… it has found ways to become a visible reminder (bookmarks, sermons, articles, books, etc) close to a couple of dozen times now just in the last two months. It seems like every time I turn around, it’s there ~ God is speaking to me! The verse and meaning are beginning to resonate within my heart and soul like none other.
3. I thought this was supposed to be the most freeing time of my life (not working with law enforcement/FBI anymore, becoming an empty nester, etc.) but instead I have never felt more imprisoned…
4. After sharing some of these things with people and in ministry (fears of leading, feeling imprisoned, wandering in the wilderness) more than one person suggested that maybe this is supposed to be a season of quiet and solitude with the Lord. Hmmm… sounds like more confirmation to me!
5. I walk into a Christian bookstore knowing I can’t afford anything at the moment, but I end up clutching one book to my heart for hours until closing time. I felt torn and kept praying, because God knows where we sit financially and what has to happen within the next 2 weeks just so we don’t lose the apartment I finally got approved for ~ it’s going to take a miracle, because most of our money paid for the hotels. So, how in the world could I possibly buy anything like this book that isn’t a pure necessity?! I kept hearing Him say, “Trust Me” so I did and made the purchase. That evening, the tears were running down my cheeks even before I finished with the forward. God was right ~ it was and is a necessity! It happens to be all about these things I’m currently going through and nothing has spoken straight to my heart like this since I can remember. It is exactly what’s needed at this time and is helping in tremendous ways to pull all the pieces together.
6. It’s uncanning ~ for the last couple of weeks, I will pray and journal about something, only to read or hear about it almost immediately afterwards (via books, sermons, conversations, etc.) It’s been like one confirmation after another and it’s incredibly exciting!
Ding! Ding! Ding!
I’ve wanted to blog about all of this as it’s been happening, but things are just suddenly moving and with some fluidity, no doubt! I’ve been busy reading and journaling every day again too, and things are even coming together in a book (FINALLY!) It feels like the secrets been revealed or something, so I’ll just keep blogging about different pieces of it along the way.
What is the secret you may ask?
I have always taught that there’s a reason for our pain, but I never stopped to consider that maybe there’s a reason for my aloneness too. I did not consciously realize (until recently) just how much I’ve been wrestling with God or that I’ve been wondering in the wilderness these past couple of years. I’ve been so busy chasing and fighting that I haven’t been able to hear His voice above all the chaos anymore.
I believe God has wanted my attention so I can know Him better,
and it seems the only way He was going to get it was to allow me to be
empty and alone without anymore distractions, including people
(thanks to my own pride and dependencies, lol!)
You know, often times God will use the hurt in our lives to bring us back to Him, so that we may learn to cling to Him during our hour of weakness instead. Then it is His strength and light which can shine through to the darkest recesses of our pain. In this way, we learn how to have complete faith and trust in Him to fulfill our every need, and quit searching for someone or something else to fill that void instead.
By the end of the story, Jacob did what all of us must do… Alone, he confronted all the things which were hurting him, and causing him so much pain and fear ~ his weaknesses, his failures, his feelings, his sins. And he finally faced God. Jacob wrestled with God all night; it was an exhausting struggle that even left him crippled ~ pretty scary right? But, it was only after he came to grips with God and ceased struggling with Him, realizing that he could not go on without Him, that he was finally able to receive God’s blessing. (Gen 32:29)
Truth be told… though we often fight God and His will for us through the loneliness of night, may we finally recognize before the last hour that our win comes only by submission, and His blessings will follow at daybreak.
May we all be servants of the Servant and a friend of Gods.
- Divine Wrestling Match (pattiannthompson.wordpress.com)