Tuesday, August 16, 2011

You Win

The patriarch we all wonder about.
How did he get listed?
Abraham: the friend of God;
Isaac: the long-awaited promised son;
and Jacob: the heel-catcher?
"Jacob I have loved," He said.
What did God see in him?

I think I am beginning to see it too.
And it's beautiful.
Everyone knows his stories, but the point of them is often confusing -- at least to me.

He was a man on the run:
from his brother;
from his father-in-law;
from Canaanites;
from famine.
But he did not run from God.
He wrestled Him.
And he wouldn't let go.
He halted upon his thigh the rest of his life because he refused to let go.
He preferred God's blessing to his own strength.
Even if it hurt him.

"Bless me! I will cling through Your maiming touch and not let go!"
He caught God's heel.

I've heard people use that passage to say,
"When you're in a wrestling match with God, give up."
I understand what they are trying to say,
but it seems to me that God was pleased with his -- (dare I say it?) patience.
His continuance.

"You have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed," He said.
Has that ever troubled you?
I mean, it says He did not prevail against him.
Is Jacob stronger than God?
Certainly not.
What the heck is that talking about?

In Hosea it says,
"[Jacob] took his brother by the heel in the womb,
and in his strength he struggled with God.
Yes, he struggled with the Angel and prevailed;
he wept, and sought favor from Him."

God comes to struggle with us.
To contend with us.
To roll in the dirt and hold us down.
To wrestle us into exhaustion,
to wound us in the strongest part of our being.
To be held down by the grasping of our faith.
To be clung to, and torn at, and dirtied in the struggle -- sweated on and wept to.
If we hold fast to Him, we will carry the scars and the injuries with us.
And when we don't let go, although it cost us our health,
our life,
our children,
our hopes and dreams,
our homes,
our positions --
though we halt upon our thighs for the rest of our lives
and our children down through the ages commemorate the struggle at every meal,
we have prevailed when we have hung on to Him.

And He loves that.
He blesses that.
He memorializes it, too.
When I brought you low, you held on still, and you win.

"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?
Shall tribulation,
or distress,
or persecution,
or famine,
or nakedness,
or peril,
or sword?
As it is written:
'For Your sake we are killed all day long;
We are counted as sheep for the slaughter.'
Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us."

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