Updated: Apr 28
Tents of Mercy Congregation
Kiryat Yam, Israel
People who need hearing aids are old geezers, right? Well, I now find myself among them. In order to follow what’s going on I’m dependent on devices that attach to my natural ears. They have to be charged up every night. These new-fangled ones are even adjustable on my smart phone.
The inescapable bottom line is that my own body is not functioning adequately without outside aid. It’s humbling to be confronted with one’s limitations. Yet I’ve begun to see this as a timely personal message. The Lord seems to be telling me “There’s no getting around it. You’re not self-sufficient. Now, I want to supply what you are lacking. Trust in me!”
Our ancestor Jacob experienced this truth with such force that it redefined him through his limitation and its consequences. On the way to a “showdown” with his brother Esau, who’d sworn to kill him, Jacob was “afraid and distressed” (Genesis 32:7). He was freaked out. Crying out to the God of his father Isaac and grandfather Abraham, Jacob declares that he is unworthy of the Lord’s mercies, though God has promised to “deal well with” him.
Agonizing through the night, trying to figure out a way to save his family even if Esau attacks, Jacob finds himself alone wrestling with “a man.” Perhaps you can relate to the patriarch at this point. I can. Life’s dilemmas often elude my solutions. I find myself out of options.
Struggling with His Maker
Oddly enough, the stranger (whom Jacob soon identifies as God Himself – “I have seen God face to face”) is not winning the wrestling match. His strategy? He touches Jacob’s hip, puts it out of joint. Game over, the man/angel wins. But Jacob is determined and will not let him go before being blessed. This indicates our “hero’s” comprehension that he’s been wrestling with His Maker.
At this point the issue turns to identity. God says, “you’ve been Yaakov (variously meaning ‘going around the issue/bypassing/or heel – since he grabbed his brother’s heel while still in the womb’), but now you’re going to be Yisrael” (you have persevered/prevailed/have power as a prince with God).
Father of a Different People
As a physical reminder of this profound identity change, Jacob limped from then on. Embracing that mark of weakness, however, he became Israel, the father of the Jewish people. What a telling commentary on the type of people God's partners are to be. Not those who strive to take first place for the sake of beating everyone else, but those who have entered a covenant of trust with God and are relying on Him to fulfill our chosen destiny.
From that encounter, Jacob was able to face his deeply resentful brother and the two were dramatically reconciled. His fear was transformed to faith. His anxiety became security that God was with him.
The limp? It became God’s entry point. I’m beginning to see my hearing aids the same way. What are your limitations, and how does the One who made you want to use your limitations as a constant reminder of His all-sufficiency and superb destiny for your life?
Do you feel inadequate? You’re in good company. Moses protested “I can’t talk.” Jeremiah felt “I’m too young.” Paul confessed “I’m weak.” I’ve never felt adequate for a single day of my 30 years in Israel, arriving as a new non-Hebrew speaking immigrant in 1992. Yet the Lord used Moses, Jeremiah and Paul. Hey, He’s even used me. And He is well able to bring His kingdom through you too.