I just finished studying Chapter 32 of Genesis. Jacob met God face to face and they wrestled through the night. Perhaps I always took this literally and yet I didn’t understand what these words meant. I pictured two figures wrestling like WWE professional wrestlers. But after reading a commentary by J. Vernon McGee in Through the Bible, I came to see this scene differently.
Jacob had already been shown as a bit of a rascal. A deceiver. He ran away instead of facing up to what he’d done to his brother. He didn’t trust God, and instead took matters into his own hands. Don’t we all do that? I often pray and ask God for something, then instead of waiting to see what God’s answer will be, I lean on my own understanding. Sometimes it works out, but often it doesn’t.
Jacob was like that. And now he had decided to run away from his Uncle Laban like a thief in the night. After resolving that, he now faced meeting the brother he’d deceived twenty years ago! He was like the soft gooey filling of a sandwich cookie, with Laban on one side and Esau on the other. He wasn’t a strong man because he hadn’t yet learned to trust God.
So now I see the wrestling match with God as Jacob clinging to God to keep him from pinning him down to the canvas. He didn’t really fight, just held on because he was no match for the strength of God. But he was determined, as always, not to give up or give in. So God had to injure his hip to reach him. At that point, Jacob asked for a blessing. He wasn’t going to let go until this happened. This was the moment Jacob finally submitted to God, and his name was changed. He would become a different man. Not immediately, but we all take baby steps.
As I look back at my life 50, 40, 30, 20 even 10 years ago, I see how I have changed and grown into a better woman. The woman I was 50 years ago won’t be going to heaven. I’m a new person and this new me is the one who will receive eternal life. Often I wonder why my husband was taken before me. I used to think it was because God still had things for me to do. I’m sure that’s true, but in the doing, God is still preparing me to be the woman He sees as being ready for the inheritance He will provide.
As I look at the snow blowing through my window, I smile, and say “Thank You, God, for not giving up on the me I used to be.”