Saturday, January 26, 2008

A Holy Limp of Prevail

I walk with a limp. You may not see me hobble all the time, but I do. No. There are no outer bandages and the crutches were disposed of after a while. They seemed to hurt me more than help.
There is no need to pity me for my walk. I am privileged to limp. I know that seems contradictory to the status quo of superwoman these days who flies through life with her one arm of faith held out in battle against any enemy. But it was God-ordained. It was God purposed. And it was God caused.
Jacob, son of Isaac, is dear to my heart. He was touched by God. God’s touch brought all of the things one normally thinks of when we hear those tender, yet unfortunately, sometimes, clich├ęd words – ‘touched by God.’ It brought life, wholeness, vitality, promise, and closeness. However, it also brought a breaking. A hip breaking to be more exact. Jacob has the holy limps of all holy limps; the first, but by no means the last. God has likely called you to one as well…
Jacob was returning to his home land of Canaan, but in dread of meeting his brother Esau. Jacob feared that Esau had been wanting to kill him ever since he left Canaan. Jacob had word that Esau was coming to meet him with 400 men. Jacob had stolen Esau’s birthright, and taken their father’s blessing through deception. The brothers were not on friendly terms…and Jacob’s overwhelming fear of his brother was validated. ((It turns out that Esau embraced his brother weeping, bowing down, and with a kiss – what a picture of the mercy of God displayed through Esau towards his brother – but another story for another time.)

Despite this, Jacob continued as God had commanded him. He prays: “O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, O LORD, who said to me, “Return to your country and to your relatives, and I will prosper you,’ … deliver me I pray from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau; for I fear him, that he will come and attack me and the mothers with the children” Genesis 32:9-12. Jacob then sends all of his children and wives across the stream ahead of him, leaving him all alone.
It’s night. It’s dark. Jacob is alone. His loved ones are not with him. The circumstances demand fear. Will he die? Will his wives and children die? Will his possessions be stolen? Will he reach Canaan? Anxiety overwhelms him, and one plea for help has come from his heart to the God of his grandfather and father.

The clock on the kingdom calendar has ticked towards the dramatic circumstances. Against the darkness of Jacob’s soul, against the doubt of what would come in the morning after this lonely night, and against fear and solitude, God steps in.
He does not step in with a vision. He does not step in through the winds, or the stillness of the night. He does not step in by a word. He does not step in to allow Jacob to feel His soft comforting presence of peace. He instead, steps in to battle. He steps in to wrestle with this child of the covenant. He steps in to get dusty with the son who claims Him as the ‘God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac,’ yet remains clearly distant in his lack to claim Him as my God.
Scripture tells us that Jacob wrestles with him until daybreak. When He (God) saw that he had not prevailed against him (Jacob), he touched the socket of his thigh; so that the socket of Jacob’s thigh was dislocated while he wrestled. Upon the breaking of dawn, He asked Jacob to let him go. Jacob said that he would not let him go unless He blessed him first.
A name change and a blessing later, the wrestling ceases and Jacob is left alone again. The sun rose, and the match ended. Jacob has seen the face of God, his soul was preserved and he crosses the river, limping from the holy touch.
Jacob wrestled all night - and he got a ‘hip-breaking’ in the process. But don’t miss it dear one. Do you see it? Does your heart resonate with emotional familiarity? Jacob, whose name meant “heel-grabber” because he heel-grabbed Esau in the womb, grabbed onto Someone greater this time. And he wrestled his way through, still demanding that he receive a blessing. (Some things don’t change do they!?) God, in response, gave him a blessing, and probably more resounding, changed his name. No longer will he be called Jacob, but he will be called Israel, in Hebrew “God will prevail’.
Seemingly contradictory? God gives him a name that meant ‘God will prevail,’ yet Jacob ‘prevailed’ in the wrestling match that night per se. Not in the least is God contradicting Himself, nor on some ego trip of denial. Jacob, son of Isaac, son of Abraham, has the promise of the covenant to him. The blessing he asked for was given by God that night; but what Jacob may not have realized was that he’d already had the blessing. God had already given him the blessing through the established covenant of Abraham. In addition, Jacob had the earthly blessing of his father Isaac. What more blessing could he have needed when the God, Elohoim of the Universe, made covenant that He would be with him, multiply his descendants, and more? Jacob had the blessing unquestionably. God gave him more than a ‘blessing’ – He changed his name.

‘Jacob’ to ‘Israel’. ‘Heel holder’ to ‘God will prevail’. One who holds another back to one who battles forward to victory. God… will… prevail.
Jacob prevailed that night. But God will prevail through Jacob’s heart, establishing Himself to the nation of Israel. God prevailed in the underlying battle. He, in a sense, took Jacob’s face in His hands, looked at him, blessed him, changed his name, and touched him. Through Jacob, God would establish the 12 tribes of Israel - and from out of this continued lineage, Jesus Christ, Conqueror of death, would come.
Jacob got the victory because God prevails. Face to face, no longer called a heel-holder, Jacob’s soul is transformed. It is not necessarily that the future doubts had been resolved; Jacob received no answer about Esau’s coming, no peace about the safety of his family, no conjured up internal strength, and certainly no extraordinary physical strength at this point – an all night wrestling match and a broken hip leaves even the strongest of self-wills weary. But he trusted God.
It was a victory over Jacob’s mind and soul. He had wrestled with God about his doubts, fears, and darkness. He did not wrestle against God.

We have all been there; however, I fear that some of us have missed the blessing of the wrestle. Many times, we will decide to embrace the darkness of our nights, the aloneness, the fear, the unbelief, and fight hard. Unfortunately, we fight against God. We really have not wrestled at all, but hide our innermost thoughts and emotions from God. We may even tearfully pour out a confession and a prayer, such as that of Jacob’s, but place our hands over our hearts in the process, not allowing God to look at the darkness inside. The inevitable happens in these circumstances: when I refuse to jump in the ring of my Almighty and let him deal with me, there is no victory and no glory for my God. I am still a heel-holder…and I grab onto whatever thing or person is nearest me to get my empty blessing and pretentious victory. I lose…
I beg you to wrestle with God. Let your heart and soul fight with God, and the limp of the darkness becomes a holy limp of wholeness and light. Let God get you face to face, dusty in the ground, as He whispers ‘Work with me child! Do you see me? Do you see my heart for you?’ I am for you, not against you. I am your shield and strong tower. I will bless you and make you prosperous. I am God, your God, and I will prevail!
Take courage beloved, and get dusty. Do you feel alone in the emotions of your soul? Is there an area of darkness to look upon? Is there uncertainty of fear over the future? Is there an area of brokenness in your heart over the past? He has called you near. He has called you to battle. He has called you to battle against yourself, and with Him. We lay down our lives, and live. We take up our cross, and follow Him. We grieve for the night, but are promised that joy comes in the morning.
We wrestle with the dissonance of our souls, and what we receive is a blessing of unbroken fellowship, power, and a new name. We are overcomers, victorious in Christ, and no weapon forged against us shall prosper – for this is the inheritance of the saints. We march on across our rivers, gather our friends and family, and embrace our ‘Esau’s.’ We do not draw attention to our limp. But we cannot hide it either. It is a reminder of who God is to us, what He has done for us, and what He has promised to us. God is not just one who has spoken to us, nor the God of our fathers and grandfathers. In the intimacy of battle, He has become our God, and we are His people.
We limp a limp given by the touch of God, visible to the doubting Thomases in us, and around us, who need to know that we have been in the dark lonely nights, and have come through. A reminder of our absolute dependence upon Him, a reminder that He is victory, a reminder that He is for us, a reminder that we have to be for ourselves, a reminder that there is no fear in Him, and no darkness is in Him - for He is light, a reminder that He has given us a new name, a reminder that He is all sufficient and all knowing.
Don’t miss the wrestle sweet sisters. Cease heel-grabbing onto false gods, temporary fixes, idols, or things of this world. God has called you into deep fellowship – deep communion – He’s called you alone with Him to look Him in the face, speak, and work out your salvation with fear, trembling, and a little wrestling match. Has God allowed some solitude in your life? Turn your eyes off of your friends, family, and other loved ones who we need as the Body of Christ, but are not meant to walk thru this valley of your soul with you. They are across the river cheering you on in prayer and encouragement. The Creator of the Universe has called you to Himself. What a divine privilege of grace. What a blessing of His goodness. What a powerful chance to commune.
Don’t miss the chance to get with God over the areas of your heart. He arrives with greatness for you. He gets close, your face in His hands, heart pounding, eyes of love asking you to work this one through with Him, and a new name over an area of former darkness.

Are you ready for the holy limp of wholeness and blessing from God? He is…..

Psalm 13: “How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me? Look on me and answer, O LORD my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death; my enemy will say, "I have overcome him," and my foes will rejoice when I fall. But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the LORD…”

Micah 7:8 “Rejoice not over me my enemy; when I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD will be a light to me!”

Genesis 50:20 “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.”

Psalm 27

Genesis 32


Barbara said...

Amen! Thank you for your words of truth and wisdom!!!!

Toknowhim said...

Your bloggy siestas have waited a long time for one of these posts from you, and it was worth the wait!!! I just listened to this story about Jacob on CD (The Bible Experience Rocks) this week.

I feel like I have been in a wrestling match for a very long time, but have settled for the lesser things, and got out of my wrestle a bit too early... Thanks sweet Shelly for reminding me that there is so much in store for me on the other side of the wrestle...even if there is pain involved. Even though fear grips me so strongly at times, the Spirit within me wants me to go deeper with God, and be forever marked by Him. I love Him!!

I love ya too Siesta...

Lindsee said...

Dear Sweet Shelly!

This scripture spoke so sweetly to my heart about 6 months ago, I have since then pushed it to the side! Thank you for bringing it up again and making it fresh! I do need to wrestle with my God. We have lots to deal with, oh, that I would give HIM my WHOLE heart! And all I can think about with Ps. 13 is the Shane & Shane that I sung so loudly this morning. I love it.

I love you!


NYC said...

Thank you for this powerful reminder regarding the faithful God that we serve; it is not always easy, but He promises that it will be worth it at the end.

Kelly S. said...

Psalm 46.10

"Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth."

What a divine privilege of grace indeed.....LORD don't let me miss You, the blessing You have for me...Prevail in my heart..Thank You Jesus!

Linda said...

Shelly, the passage about Jacob wrestling is one of my favorites. I absolutely loved your post on this. I may print it out and keep it because it spoke to me so much.