Jacob wrestled with God. He seems to be a man who had wrestled his whole life. He wrestled with Esau, his brother, both in birth and in life. He wrestled with his parents and then with his father-in-law, Labaan. He wrestled with his wives who wrestled with one another. He even wrestled with his sons, who in turn fought and wrestled against each other. Seems to be a pattern here!
The night Jacob wrestled with God, God said to him, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.” Genesis 22:28
What did God mean? He used the word, strive, meaning-to contend, to persist, to exert oneself and to persevere. Jacob was stubborn, but God intended for him to be tenacious. God called him victorious. Jacob was like a dog with a bone. When he wanted something he went after it and did not let go until he got it–his father’s blessing, his wife Rachel, a sheep herd, God’s blessing. Now, perhaps he didn’t always go about getting what he wanted the right way. But he was sure persistent. I believe God likes people like that. He likes them much more, however, when their headstrong will is turned into “I have set my face like a flint towards God” and when their tenacity is submitted to the plan and will of God!
I can relate to Jacob a bit. I’ve been called stubborn, bull headed, strong willed, hard headed, icy, and a steel magnolia. Many times these words were used in frustration. It was not a compliment. Mama said once, “You’d argue with a fence post if it’d talk back to you.”
One weekend, many years ago, I went to a women’s retreat. The leaders had prayed over each bed and assigned us a room. They placed a single word on each bed they believed God had spoken to them while they prayed. The word I found on my pillow was tenacious. From that day on, Holy Spirit, as I submitted to the potter’s wheel, began to take the very traits he had placed in me and mold them to his purposes. When the world called me stubborn and head strong, Father called me tenacious with single eyed vision. I set my face toward the things of God with greater intent than before and ran after HIM.
Today, because of God’s grace, I’ve heard people use these words to describe me: dedicated, determined, persistent, committed, perseverant. The God who created me knew all along what HE wanted from me. He wanted me to stop wrestling with everyone else and wrestle only to take hold of the kingdom of God. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m human and can easily slip into my hard headed mindset. There are times in my life I’ve run from Him just as hard as I have run toward Him. I’ve hidden like Adam and Eve. I also know what it’s like to throw myself under a juniper tree like Elijah did and want to curl up in a ball and die. Us humans tend to be pretty emotional. But God loves us too much to let us stay hidden. He came to give us abundant life too-so He won’t let us stay under the Juniper tree forever. We may mope for a while, but God calls us out and says, “What are you doing here? Get up!” And let me tell you, He will pursue you to the ends of the earth. He will leave the 99 to get the one back. I’ve been the 99 and I’ve been the one. SO, believe me when I tell you, He will run after you with a fierce love, and He will wrestle with you if He has too.
Sometimes, I believe, we fight because we don’t know who we are-not really. When we wrestle with God, are we really just contending with ourselves? I don’t think we HAVE to wrestle with God if we are just willing to hear His voice and submit to His will. Most of the time, however, we don’t take the easy route.
Fair warning though, if you wrestle with God, you will never be the same; for God is faithful to remind us of who we really are and who He has called us to be. And I know this sounds harsh, but He’ll throw your hip out of joint if He has too.
Who are we? What Does the Bible Say?
- 2 Corinthians 11:2 His Bride:
- John 3:1 Sons-with all the rights and inheritances of firstborn sons granted to Old Testament sons.
- I Peter 2:9 His Chosen Treasure
- I Corinthians 3:16 The Temple of the Most High God
- II Corinthians 5:17 A New Creation
- Ephesians 2:6 We are IN Christ seated IN heavenly places, under grace,
- Colossians 3:3 Hidden in Christ
There is more! God sent HIS WORD to reveal the truth of who He is and who you are in Him. But you must search it out for yourself. Read the Word of God, get it into your spirit. If you are going to contend for anything, contend for HIS presence and HIS truth! Contend for HIS will, His desire, HIS purposes. You will never be the same.