There’s something about hearing the theme song from Rocky that makes you want to stand up and cheer. But to see people get into a ring, put on gloves, and punch each other is hard to watch. I personally prefer the gentler, more strategic moves of the wrestler. The contact sport that concentrates more on the pin than the pain. More on the surrender that the suffering. It’s all about being worn down to a place where you can hear the countdown and you cry out “uncle!”
I wonder if that’s the way Jacob felt when he wrestled with God? Jacob, so flawed yet so favored. His name gives us a hint about the character that plays out through the scripture. Jacob: one who supplants, someone who seizes, circumvents, or usurps. His story is told in Genesis and begins at his birth when he grabbed the heel of his brother. It doesn’t end there but continues as he stole his brother’s birthright. Jacob, not being the one given the blessing, he ends up taking the blessing. Lots of baggage to have when you’re breaking free from mom and dad and getting ready to venture out on your own. And venture out he did.
Jacob not only had his time of deceiving but he also experienced the sting of being deceived. Working hard for Laban’s daughter Rachel for seven years, he ends up with Leah. It all worked out. After another seven years, he got Rachel too. I wonder what else he got. Could it be a change of heart? Leaving his father-in law, Jacob takes all he had accumulated and once again ventures out. That is when he runs into his past…by running into his brother. A past he was afraid of. A past he is humbled by. Doesn’t life have a way of doing that? Of changing us from one who would demand to one who would ask. The thing is…this was not about being spared and united to his brother, this was about being spared and united to his God. This is the story of the grabber needing to grab hold, and the only way he was going to be able to do that was to get into the ring. So, let the wrestling begin! Genesis 32:24-30. Jacob, alone, stripped down to a loincloth, enters the ring. And a Man also enters the ring, and it says they wrestled till daybreak. This was a long match. Jacob, tired of trying to bless himself, now realizes that the blessing must come from God. And in the heat of the battle, he says it… “I will not let you go unless you bless me!” That day not only was he blessed but his identity was changed. He was given a new name, Israel…
How many of us dare to enter the ring let alone wrestle with God, but maybe that’s what needs to happen. Maybe it’s time to take a moment and ask, “is there anything unfinished that needs to be laid to rest, that can only be finished in the ring?” What is it in your past that’s trying to define you? What are the circumstances today that are trying to discourage you? Maybe you’re feeling a little ripped off. You’re not a grabber, but you sure would like some blessings. You sit by watching others receive and wonder, “What about me?” I know what it’s like to bottle up anger, to be afraid of what I’m feeling or thinking. To not want to do or say anything dishonoring or offensive to the Lord, and in doing that paying a high price. And then something changed and through a combination of expression and confession, I find that I don’t get angry as often. There’s something so freeing about being honest with God. To realize He is big enough to handle our anger, our fight. In fact, I have felt His love more in the raw moments of my anger, than in pretending I’m not. See you in the ring!