Are You Ready to Rumble… By Rev. Dr. Steve Van Ostran
24 So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak.25 When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. 26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” 27 The man asked him, “What is your name?” “Jacob,” he answered. 28 Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel,[a]because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.” –Genesis 32:24-28 (NIV)
Several times a day, our beagle will jump up on my lap, place her front paws on me and just stare at me in the face. Or if I’m laying down, she will come and begin rubbing up against me and rolling on top of me, especially when I am wearing dark pants. Lint rollers have become a staple in our house! She is always wanting to wrestle and rub up against me. Why?
Well, dog behaviorists say it is a way of declaring “ownership” or of being a part of the pack. Vierra (her name- Bulgarian meaning “faith”) is trying to tell me that she “loves” me. She is marking me by rubbing her scent on me. She is blessing me with her time and her attention.
Jacob wrestled with God…or an Angel…or even Jesus depending on how you parse the story. Jacob called the place he wrestled with the man Peniel- “the face of God.” And because he struggled with him, Jacob found himself blessed and marked as having been touched by God. It seems whenever in scripture someone goes to be alone with God, to struggle with God, to discuss with God—they are both blessed and marked by God. Consider Moses on the mountain, David when his child was dying, and even Paul and his early struggles that led to the encounter on the road to Tarsus.
When we go to God with our struggles, with our frustrations and even with our anger—when we rub up against Him-when we wrestle with those things we can’t understand- rather than being rebellious, God sees that as our desire to be one with Christ. And as we continue the struggle and hang on, ultimately God will touch us—God will bless us— God will mark us.
In some ways, this is what the season of Lent is all about…40 days of wrestling with God. Yes, a major part of Lent is the repentance for those things we have done or left undone against God, but another part is simply spending time to try to understand and discover who God is, how we understand through Jesus and seeking the blessing of the Spirit. It is wrestling with God both in frustration and out of love that we might be marked by God and that we might be blessed by God. It is about showing God that we want to be part of the pack!
Prayer: Okay God–are You ready to rumble? I’ve got some things I need to talk to you about!
Rev. Dr. Steve Van Ostran
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