Jacob and I
Posted Monday, June 19, 2006, 10:14 AM
I guess that my affinity for a good story, my draw towards a narrative device, makes me a sucker for a good analogy. I was at a prayer meeting this weekend and someone discerned that I am going through a hard time. I asked for prayer about a writing project I’m working on that is forcing me to deal with a lot of personal pain from college I have not dealt with yet. This group member, a person whom I know to have a tremendous gift for speaking into a person’s life, put their hand on my shoulder and was moved to tears. It was as if they felt the ball of pain that has been burring in my chest, as if they could feel my frustration, bitterness, anger, everything I’ve been holding against God these last few months.
At times like this I usually get uncomfortable. I’m a Christian and have been since I was a child. In my life I’ve seen some weird stuff that would have to be called supernatural, and I’ve felt the presence of God in a given situation in ways that have really made me be in awe of his power. But I have never been what some “charismatic.” I’ve read about, and heard stories second hand, of people healing other, of slaying in the spirit, of demonic possessions, speaking in tongues , and even prophesying in the spirit. I’ve hear people pray silently to God in what is call a prayer language: when a person is so moved to pray that normal words do not suffice and they use sounds that are not necessarily of any particular language. That is the limit of my experience wit what people call, “the gifts of the spirit.”
This person looked at me and said, “I’m getting this image of Jacob.” Now if you don’t know the story of Jacob, there is the Cliff Notes version. Jacob was the son of Isaac, who was the Son of Jacob, and is one of the Father’s of the Israelite nation. Jacob become Israel one night, when the Angle of the Lord visited and wrestled with him. Jacob was actually able to prevail over this angel until the angle reaches out and touches Jacob’s hip, thus dislocating it. Even so, Jacob manages to grab onto the angle’s leg and not let go. He flat out tells the angle that he will not release his grip till the angle blesses him. The angle relents, and changes Jacob’s name to Israel, and the entire nation is what becomes of his descendants.
Now, being as I am a sucker for a good analogy, here is what I walked away with that night. Jacob thought he was a great man. He relied on his own strength to get himself through life. He also had a chip on his shoulder. When God’s angle meets him, Jacob assumes that the angle is there to bless him. The reality is that the angle is there to fight him.
Why does Jacob make this assumption? Is it because he is a deeply religious man? Is it because he has done anything to deserve the blessing? What would give Jacob the gall to demand a blessing from the “Angle of the Lord?” This is essentially the same conclusion that God throws in the face of Job at the end of that story. By what right does Jacob lay clam to his blessing?
Here’s the kicker. The story glosses over this fact, and focuses on the even stranger situation. Jacob actually was capable of fight with, wrestling with, and beating the angle. So what does the angle of the Lord do, the holly messenger of God, God’s regent and representative on earth, do? He does what any other person would do, and cheats. The angle touches Jacob’s leg and dislocates it. Does this stop Jacob? Does Jacob give in even though his body is painfully injured? No, he does the opposite. He grabs hold of the angle’s leg and refuses to let go until he is blessed. The angle gives Jacob his blessing. In exchange for not only being the father of a nation, not only being the continuation of God’s covenant with Abraham, but being part of the line that lead to Jesus, and all it cost was having to limp for the rest of his life.
Now, because this is supposed to be a analogy, I’m forced to draw parallels between the story and myself. Jacob was stubborn, I’ll claim that. Jacob was strong and had the ability to go blow for blow with what ever the angle threw at him, and keep striving for his goal; I’m that tenacious. Even when the angle did not play fair Jacob was not detoured from his goal to get his blessing.
Hurt, cheated, and pissed off, Jacob grabs hold of the angle’s leg and demand his blessing. Maybe that’s what I need to do. Only problem is that If I do that I also accept the cost. Jacob limped for the rest of his life. What will it cost me? You see, when you know that the next step is to go blow for blow with God, you have the book of Job to tell you that God may still not give you the answer you seek. God never plays fair with humans demand things of him. Job never did get the answer he sought. Perhaps if Job was more like Jacob, Go would have killed him, or worse made him the father of a nation.
I am at a crossroads. I don’t want to take this analogy too far. Maybe I cam supposed to fight God till he gives up. Maybe, just maybe, I’m supposed to expect something bad to happen in order to receive some kind of blessing. No matter what happens, this I’m sure of; I’m fighting for answers that no one can give me except for the one person that won’t speak to me. Do I have the courage to step out onto the mat and accept the consequences of a knock down drag out with God? What will he do to me if I do?