I like the story of Jacob. Because even though Jacob had contractually been given the blessing by Esau, and had completed the transaction by deceit with the help of his mother, he still did not live in possession of it. If he had, he would not have wrestled with the Theophany in the river bed till dawn, begging to be blessed. He would not have lived in fear of meeting Esau and his family. He had taken a blessing by deceit, and it did not satisfy him. It did not really rest on him as he had hoped. The blessing he really wanted was the blessing of God.
I find that I wrestle with God, not in an argumentative way, but struggling in prayer to release my hopes and dreams, to surrender my will (slippery thing that it is), and seeking blessing. And why is that so hard, given what I profess to believe about the God I love? I think it is a battle against the world, the flesh, and the devil. I watched The Passion of the Christ a while ago, and fixated on the scene where Jesus is struggling in the garden. If He, the perfect Son of God and Son of Man, underwent a struggle to surrender his will, and accept God’s perfect will, we should expect no less.
But I digress, sort of. Jacob, after prevailing with the angel, was blessed. And given a new name, Israel. “A prince leading as God.” The interesting thing is that his name is in part a transliteration of Sarah, the name of his grandmother. In renaming Jacob and blessing him, God subtly memorialized the name of the faithful woman, the co-believer, who remained at Abraham’s side and who bore Isaac, the child of promise. Only God could be that neat. I really like that.
So, wrestling with God. It doesn’t leave you untouched. It changes you, recreates you. And as we know, it also leaves you with a limp. If you’re serious about this, you will be changed, you will bear evidence of the struggle. It won’t be a bed of roses. And one day, you’ll receive a smooth white stone, engraved with your new name.
Rev 2:17 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.’
I’m sure it’s going to be a really cool name…