The God Who Wrestles

  • Friday, May 27, 2011

  • When, in testing and trials, we refuse to let go, we ultimately awaken to realize that it has not been our hanging on that has brought us the blessing, but rather, it was His hanging on to us!

    He would best be described as a “hanger-on”. He clung to his older brother’s heal while being delivered from the womb into the world. He clung to his mother’s apron strings while his brother ventured out into a Cabela’s kind of world. He clung to his devious schemes in an all-consuming pursuit of the benefits reserved for the firstborn. He clung to the stunning, second-born daughter of his mother’s relative. He clung to his extra-ordinary business savvy. And most of all, he hung on tenaciously to his skill of deception, complemented by his power of manipulation!

    Leaving home under the real threat of familialcide (i.e. the intention of an offended brother to terminate his sibling’s physical existence), our man of the Promise Line suddenly found himself a fugitive from home. Absolutely alone.  And broke! His father’s household was rich; wealthy beyond imagination. His stables were full, his fields vast, and his flocks continually enlarging. But here was the son of the wealthiest man in the world running for his life, alone and bankrupt on a lonely hill. “And he came to a certain place and spent the night there, because the sun had set; and he took one of the stones of the place and put it under his head, and lay down in that place.” Genesis 28:11 No five-star accommodations. A stone had to do for his feathered pillow. Broke. Scared.  Alone. But still, he was a hanger-on.

    Fear, loneliness and isolation were overcome by exhaustion and sleep. And in his rest, he discovered that his travel-agent had been none other than the Living God! The place of lodging for his first night away from home had been Divinely prepared. Suddenly, he was awakened with a new source of fear! “Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, ‘Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.’ And he was afraid and said, ‘How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God and this is the gate of heaven!” Genesis 28:16-17

    God had placed a ladder of access for weary pilgrims; a provision for conniving, deceitful, manipulative fugitives to enter the Holy God’s very presence.

    And behold, I am with you, and will keep you wherever you go…I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Genesis 28:15

    It would be two decades later before Jacob would find himself again in this place.  His “mission” of finding a wife from among his mother’s people would have been completed…twice. His empty pockets would by then, be overflowing with new wealth. And his solitude would by then, be filled with many sons. He was definitely what we would have to call a “hanger-on”. Yet 20 years later, our man was once again a fleeing fugitive, overwhelmed once more by fear. Behind him, an angry father-in-law and resentful brother-in-laws; before him, a yet unreconciled, offended, murder-minded brother.

    And then God wrestled! “Then Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. And when he saw that he had not prevailed against him, he touched the socket of his thigh; so the socket of Jacob’s thigh was dislocated while he wrestled with him…and He blessed him there!” Genesis 32:24-25

    It took a long night of unrelenting conflict for Jacob to learn the lesson Corrie ten Boom so eloquently penned, “I have learned to hold loosely those things I consider dear, lest God in His providence, should choose to take them from me.  It hurts to pry my fingers loose.”

    When in testing and trials we refuse to let go, we ultimately awaken to realize that it has not been our hanging on that has brought us the blessing, but rather, it was His hanging on to us!

    See you Sunday, Church!
    Pastor Tom


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