Hello, precious readers! Remember me?
This past season of life has been full of many winding roads, but the journey has ultimately reminded me of my Loving Compass, Guide, and Strength.
I am constantly reminded each day is a beautiful addition to my venture through life. In this post, I hope to encourage, strengthen, and virtually hug all of my readers who are on a journey of their own.
Fasten your seatbelts (…or sandals?) as we journey this dusty, and perhaps mucky road together.
About a year ago, I wrote a blog post focusing on the life of Jacob, and I titled it “Who Are You?” This was the question that God asked Jacob after they had wrestled until daybreak.
The narrative took place in Genesis 32:22-30:
The Angel: What is your name?
The Angel: Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with man, and have prevailed
In my previous post, I reflected on the name “Jacob” representing the old/past/former man. You can insert many things such as the following: deceiver, cheat, liar, stubborn, potential, flighty… I suggested the idea that God proposes the same question to us, and our responses often entangle to the old self, the not-so-pretty, and the genuine self.
Just as God changed Jacob’s name, He was ultimately changing his life. In my last post, however, I missed an extremely important part of the narrative. In fact, a year ago, I was unaware of this crucial part of Jacob’s story. I had to experience Jacob’s journey in my own life in order to truly understand the importance of God’s new name for Jacob. I had to experience my own faults and failures, just as Jacob did. The experience allowed me to see how desperately I needed him to break me and ride me of…ME.
Now, let’s dive into Scripture, shall we?
Prior to Jacob’s wrestling with God at Bethel, he had a life full of tension, trials, sin, rivalry, and fret. Even before Jacob’s birth, his mother, Rebekah, could feel the wrestling of the twins in her womb. God informed her the wrestling was not only between the brothers, but also nations that would be led by Jacob and Esau (Gen. 25:22-23). Before Jacob was born, he was chosen. God knew that Jacob, although he would be human, sinful, and selfish, would be the one who would receive the blessings of God. I had read something that really stuck with me about Jacob and Esau, “Jacob, although he was a sinful man like Esau, was chosen. Jacob was not chosen based on his ability to prove himself, his strength, or his perfection. No, Jacob was destined to be the leader of God’s people because he was able to be transformed from a fleshly man, unlike Esau.”
The brothers represented two nations, one worldly/wicked, and one sanctified/blessed.
We have the choice: we can be a part of His chosen (humbly accepting His hand to work on our hearts and change us for His purpose) or the estranged man (running to our own way; never allowing ourselves to turn from an inward focus to look up).
Jacob was marked from the moment he entered this world, but his journey involved failure, heartache, confusion, estrangement, and sin before he reached the life-changing wrestling with God.
Jacob’s past involved the following:
-Deceiving Esau into selling his birthright (right or inheritance)
-Deceiving His dying and blind father, Isaac, to bless him instead of Esau
-Running to avoid being killed by Esau
-Working for his uncle in order to be given a wife
-Being deceived into marrying Leah instead of her sister, Rachel (Oh the irony…)
-Marrying Rachel as well
-Having children with fertile Leah, yet still favoring barren Rachel
-Having children with Rachel and Leah’s servants (Another sibling rivalry as a result of the sin of polygamy)
-Having a son with Rachel
-Using the blessing of his uncle, Laban, to inherit his livestock
-Fleeing with his family and livestock
-Venturing to his home where he would encounter Esau
-One last encounter with Laban
Genesis 31:3, “Return to the land of your fathers and to your kindred, and I will be with you.” We see Jacob risk his life, his family, and his destiny because of God’s promise of faithfulness. In calling Jacob back home, we see God leading him back to the position where he can fulfill his God-given purpose.
It was impossible for God to use carnal Jacob—the fleshly, selfish, deceptive version—to fulfill his destiny.
God saw POTENTIAL, REDEEMABLE, + MOLDABLE, but it took His mighty hand to humble Jacob and to change Him to the man He ordained him to be.
This is why God’s call for Jacob to return to Bethel is CRUCIAL.
Genesis 32:24, “And Jacob was left alone. And A Man wrestled with him until the break of the day.”
Honestly, I look at Jacob’s stubborn, persistent, head-strong self and it feels like I’m looking in the mirror. Jacob, determined to have his way, wrestled throughout the entire night. Similar to this, I have gone through a season of persistent wrestling… I subconsciously believed I could handle it in my own strength, all the while God was wrestling my flesh and reminding me that His way was worth the fight.
Finally, the DEFINING MOMENT for Jacob is found in Genesis 32:25, “When The Man saw that He did not prevail against Jacob, He touched his hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with Him.”
God knew it would take a humbling, hip-popping, reality check in order to break Jacob of his way and prepare him to fulfill his purpose in this earth. It was then, God told Jacob that he was no longer that worldly, deceptive, wandering, selfish man. No, God had something greater for Jacob. Israel, striving with God, was his new name.
Please, please, sweet souls, DO NOT MISS THIS. In order to reach the place where God transforms us from the old self, we have to reach the humbling, perhaps painful, process of breaking. If you’re like Jacob, and if you’re like me, sometimes it takes that extremely long journey, wrestling, and then humiliating hip-popping experience in order to become who God is calling you to be. Jacob, was able to see God face-to-face when He surrendered to His will and allowed God’s blessing to rule his future.
Precious readers, God is calling us to Bethel. The experience at Bethel was not a glorious, Instagram-worthy, or glitzy experience. No, Bethel was a dusty, dirty, sweat-dripping wrestling in order to fulfill God’s divine destiny.
“What is your name?”
(What I really responded was anxious, anorexic, unworthy, burdensome, bitter, hurt, loner…)
“Your name is no longer Jerilyn…”
Coming to a place of having God’s hand dislocate your hip is probably not a preferable way of submitting to His way… But my oh my, does the hip-check turn into a reality-check. Sometimes it takes the final break of the old us for God to prepare us for our divine destiny.
You see, Jacob’s journey was full of confusion, estrangement, struggles and sin… BUT it was also full of potential, molding, shaping, and redemption.
Just like Jacob, we are able to surrender the wrestling by looking to the cross and realizing that Jesus Himself came to wrestle our flesh. He was beaten until He cried, “It is finished” as the skies went black.
“It is finished”-> The wrestling is done, the debt is paid.
Three days later, the empty grave declared we are set free and have a new name—Beloved, Chosen, Adopted, Honored, Sanctified, Child of God…