Sunday, April 18, 2010

Winning Battles through Weakness

The Story of Jacob of struggling with God is an interesting story, one that I’ve often contemplated.  It’s a story that threatens much of what I understand about God.  How is it that a man could fight with God and win?  Why couldn’t God overpower Jacob when God is ALL –powerful? 
As I’ve meditated on this story over and over again, the Spirit has revealed some insights to me.  This story of Jacob begins with him preparing for an encounter with his older brother Esau.  You see, the last time Jacob had seen Esau, he wanted to kill Jacob.  Jacob had tricked Esau out of his inheritance and his blessing, so Jacob was forced to run from his brother.  Now, many years later, it was time to face his brother. 
This was the state of mind Jacob was in when he encountered a stranger that initiated a struggle with him. Seeing that Jacob would not surrender easily, the man touched Jacob’s hip, injuring him.  This changed Jacob’s stance in the fight.  He was no longer a man who refused to surrender.  He was no longer a man who got what he wanted by his own means—by his own strength(deceit).  He was now in a position of weakness.   He grabbed onto the man --pleading  with him to bless him.  He recognized that this man had something that he needed.    Jacob finally realized that he wasn’t sufficient in himself alone.  It was at this point that the man changed Jacob’s name, which means “he deceives”, to Israel, which means “he struggles with God”.  The man blessed Jacob right there.  Later, Jacob recognized that this stranger was God himself.  He had fought with God and won!
I believe we all have moments or seasons of wrestling with God.   You see, God opposes the proud.  When we determine in our hearts that we want to live life on our own terms—our way—we place ourselves in direct opposition to God. And so… the battle begins.  We fight and we refuse to surrender.  “I’m strong”  “I’m competent”  “I’m able”  We fight every problem coming our way using our own abilities.  We’re resilient.  WE WON’T GIVE IN!  Then God touches our hip.  He breaks us.  He exposes just how weak we really are.  So we are forced to change our position.  Instead of standing tall against God, we cling to Him--hurting.  We recognize how much we need Him.  It is at that moment of surrender that we receive grace.  God gives grace to the humble.  We are blessed.  We win!
It’s difficult to comprehend how victory can be achieved through surrender.  We’ve been conditioned to do the very opposite.  NEVER GIVE UP!  BE STRONG!    And these ideas aren’t bad principles, but we must not trust in our own strength.  It isn’t by our strength or power that we accomplish anything, but by His Spirit.
I pray that His Spirit would open my mind to understand these things more and more and to trust Him more and more.  Some day I want to have the attitude that Paul had when he said he delighted in his weaknesses,  in insults, in hardships, in  persecutions, and in difficulties.  Why?  Because when he was weak, he was strong.  
 Lord your ways are too lofty for our minds to grasp, so we need you to make these things real in our hearts.  Teach us how to humble ourselves before you in weakness, so that we may receive your strength.  Amen.

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