Genesis 32:24-30 (MSG) But Jacob stayed behind by himself, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When the man saw that he couldn’t get the best of Jacob as they wrestled, he deliberately threw Jacob’s hip out of joint. The man said, “Let me go; it’s daybreak.” Jacob said, “I’m not letting you go ’til you bless me.” The man said, “What’s your name?” He answered, “Jacob.” The man said, “But no longer. Your name is no longer Jacob. From now on it’s Israel (God-Wrestler); you’ve wrestled with God and you’ve come through.” Jacob asked, “And what’s your name?” The man said, “Why do you want to know my name?” And then, right then and there, he blessed him. Jacob named the place Peniel (God’s Face) because, he said, “I saw God face-to-face and lived to tell the story!”
This blog is a judgment-free zone. I have a confession to make. Twenty years ago, my husband and I were avid fans of professional wrestling. We watched it on television, paid for pay-per-view, and even made our way to the local civic center for an event. Is it fake? I will leave that up to personal debate. I remember the night that I could smell what the Rock was cooking. Only those who have ever followed the “sport” will understand what I mean. The Word of God offers a professional wrestler of sorts in a man named Jacob. His account is famous among the social circles of church and widely acceptable over the one that is nationally televised. The images on the screen of men in their wrestling attire heading to the ring to take down their foe with music blaring and cannons booming is not exactly the picture of Jacob on the night of the greatest wrestling match of his life. There was no one to offer a play-by-play. No bright lights just the dark of night. Yet, this moment is profound for those who desire greater faith and tighter hold on hope.
Hosea 12:3-5 (NLT) Even in the womb, Jacob struggled with his brother; when he became a man, he even fought with God. Yes, he wrestled with the angel and won. He wept and pleaded for a blessing from him. There at Bethel he met God face to face, and God spoke to him — the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies, the Lord is his name!
The struggle is real. The wrestling in our heart and mind to find that measure of faith that secures confident hope is from the beginning of our existence until one steps into eternity. To wrestle means to engage in or as if in a violent or determined struggle. There are two sides to engagement – first there is to enter in battle with and then there is to bring together or interlock. I feel like both are important in our striving to fully achieve our faithful purpose in Jesus Christ. First, I must win the battle of my flesh and war of my mind to fully trust the Lord. To live in His Love completely requires submission of such things and a total surrender on my part. Secondly, there is the bringing together. Interlocking. Yoking our life to our Savior and deciding that He will be our Lord. It is not easy. It will always be a struggle. There will be pain. There will be purpose in our pain. Yet, pain is unavoidable when our flesh is finally but to death.
Genesis 32:31 (NLT) The sun was rising as Jacob left Peniel, and he was limping because of the injury to his hip.
At the end of each wrestling match, there is a winner and loser. In the wide world of the sport, there is a dramatic retreat of the one less fortunate while the winner stands basking in glory. In godly life, winners walk with a limp. Whether the battle is against pride or insecurity, there is pain in the process. God does not change so it is you and I who will leave the engagement different than before. It is our privilege to be broken before God because that makes us ready for His Blessing. The aroma of sacrifice is not in what I am willing to give the Lord but when I give my all. Faith is no good unless the seed dies to give way to the promise. It’s not easy. It is necessary. The strength of faith is found in human vulnerability. A total loss of control gives way to godly intervention at the release of human hands. Trust in the Lord will not be in discovered in our doing but rather in our complete undoing. Jacob left his family home with nothing and returned a wealthy man. Yet in all his natural success, Jacob was not satisfied. He had to please God. He chose to obey. He now walked with a human handicap in divine favor.
2 Corinthians 10:3-6 (MSG) The world is unprincipled. It’s dog-eat-dog out there! The world doesn’t fight fair. But we don’t live or fight our battles that way—never have and never will. The tools of our trade aren’t for marketing or manipulation, but they are for demolishing that entire massively corrupt culture. We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ. Our tools are ready at hand for clearing the ground of every obstruction and building lives of obedience into maturity.
We must become professional wrestlers who challenge and subdue everything in our life opposed to God. The rebellious thoughts and wild emotions that once ruled us must be subjected to our Lord – Jesus Christ. He is the Word. He knows the way because He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He is the only way to the Father. If our goal is to live in the Glory of God as His Children, it is up to us to engage in the struggle to secure our heart and mind by faith to the Living Hope. We must find Him within ourselves and allow Him to rule and reign. It will be a battle royal. Our flesh will not go down easily. There will be good days and bad. If we choose to hold tight to our hope without wavering, even when it hurts, we will leave changed. Faith in God is illogical which makes trusting Him even more irrational. But for those who choose to engage with Him until it is settled – they will win and leave victorious!
I Corinthians 15:57 (NLT) But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.