Jacob gathered his three best servants. “I want you to go to my brother, Esau. This is what I want you to tell him: ‘Your servant, Jacob, has been with Laban these twenty years and has accumulated much. I’m returning and hope to find favor in your sight.’ Come back here before he comes, please.”
A few days later the servants returned. “Esau is coming with four hundred men to meet you.”
Jacob sat back. “Four hundred…” He looked around at everyone and everything. “Break up into two groups. Take half of the animals to the north and half toward the south. We may keep some that way if he attacks only one group.”
Jacob climbed to the top of a high hill to watch the activity. The thought of a war with his brother brought him to his knees. “Oh, God of my father, Abraham and Isaac, Esau has trained fighting men. I have herdsmen. We’re no match against them. They’ll wipe us out in no time. I know I heard Your voice telling me to return here, and that you’d handle everything. I need You to soften Esau’s heart now. I can’t bear the thought of losing the children and their mothers. You promised me a heritage as numerous as sand and stars. I don’t deserve anything I have. When I left here all I had was my staff. Now…has it only been twenty years? So many children and animals to care for, I need You now.”
The sun was orange on the horizon when he gathered his family. “I want you to cross the river here without me. Esau is coming for me. Maybe he’ll let you live if he comes directly for me.”
They shared tears and hugs before they departed.
When Jacob returned to what was left of the camp a man was standing there.
Jacob rushed him and wrapped his arms around his chest. The two men fought throughout the night.
As dawn was breaking on the eastern horizon the man touched Jacob’s hip.
A shot of pain racked Jacob’s body, but he kept fighting.
The man pushed Jacob against a tree. “Release me before the sun comes up.”
Jacob kept his grip tight. “I will not let you go until you bless me.”
“What is your name?”
“You will no longer be named Jacob. Israel shall be your name from this time forward because you have wrestled against man and God and have survived.”
“Tell me your name, please.”
“Why do you want to know my name?”
The man disappeared.
After Israel caught his breath he picked up his staff and limped to his family. Esau was leading his men up the river bed.
Looking back through the corridor of time we know Esau had only fond inclinations toward his twin. Jacob didn’t know that while this was unfolding in his life. Just like you don’t know what the outcome of your dilemma is right now. Do you?
Jacob took the best course of action he could. He planned for the worst while hoping for the best.
Then he prayed earnestly.
Okay, the best course of action would be to pray first to get God’s insight on the subject if possible. But Jacob’s prayer did come pretty close to the front end of this predicament.
The best thing I like about Jacob’s prayer is the fact he prayed God’s promised back to Him.
Have you ever done that?
It’s a bit awkward at first, but once you get the hang of it it’ll change your prayer life tremendously.
It works something like this: A few years back when I lost my job over something that should have been a warning at best, I recognized God was in control of all this mess.
My first thought was, “Okay, all things are supposed to be working together for my good to make me more like Christ. You obviously have a different course for my life right now. Show me what that is so I can follow You in all I do.”
Because that occurred in mid-December it freed me to travel back to Michigan to visit my Mom for her last Christmas on this earth. I couldn’t get cleared for the vacation time for that because I didn’t have enough seniority at that employer then.
That job was draining a lot of energy and time from my writing life, too.
Things are still unfolding since I endured that seeming injustice to me, but I still trust God is in control of every event.
The only other option is to fight God over it. Just like Jacob did.
I’m pretty sure Jacob knew all along who that man was in his camp that night.
Two decades of running for his life; working for the love of his life; trying to please two, then four, women while they vied for his attention to make babies; then manipulating the flocks of goats and sheep to his favor, brought him to the breaking point.
As Jacob found out, when you wrestle with God you can’t win.
So, stop fighting God over whatever it is you’re battling Him over. Bend to His will and wait on His timing.
Jesus came down to give Jacob a new name. Jacob lost a night of sleep for no good reason.
God only longed to give Jacob (the manipulator) the name Israel (prince with God).
God only wants to give you something better, too.
You may have a limp after your change, maybe not.
God’s goal is to make you closer to the image of His Son, Jesus.
Jesus endured a lot of suffering while He walked among us.
So, don’t be surprised by suffering in your life.
This life isn’t about your comfort. That’s what heaven is for.
Keep this important fact in mind every day: as a born-again Christian this world is the closest thing you’ll ever experience to hell.
Like I’ve been trying to tell you, better things are coming.
I’ll see you later. Wade