Monday, March 9, 2020
Jacob had stolen his brother’s birthright for a bowl of red beans. He had secured his father’s blessing by deception. He had fled and then, ironically, was deceived into marrying, not one, but both of Laban’s daughters. He was now returning home to face his brother, whom he imagined would try and kill him for having taken his birthright. Jacob has sent all that he has: livestock, possessions, servants, and finally his wives and eleven children. Putting space between him and Esau … offering all that he had in hopes that Esau would not kill his wives, children, or Jacob himself. Surely this was enough.
And Jacob stayed at the ford of the Jabbok by himself. It was there that the wrestling began. He fought until the break of day … beyond which his opponent would no longer put up the fight. When the opponent asked Jacob to let go, Jacob said he would not until the blessing was given. “Fine. What is your name?”
Jacob … “the supplanter” … no, he is now called Israel: “Wrestles with God.” He had received his blessing and now called the place Peniel because he had seen God face-to-face and lived.
The interesting thing, for me, is that we wouldn’t think very highly of Jacob today. Then he is the one who wrestles with God and lives to tell about it. Our faith seems to be based on stories of deception. This sound like we are doing faith backwards.
As I follow Jesus, however, I am reminded that God tends not to use people who are perfect … who make every right decision … who aced their ethics class. God uses people who make bad choices and whose faith journey is crooked and sometimes broken. God uses ordinary people like me … perhaps, like you. So keep on wrestling, and you will find a blessing!
God, use me … even me … to offer your hand of blessing to others. Amen.