Momentum (Christ – centred, Spirit – empowered, Mission – focused)
I have been wrestling with God lately; perhaps you can relate. My heart longs for a deeper intimacy with him, but my need for control seems to get in the way. I was recently reminded of the story of Jacob wrestling with God in Genesis 32. Jacob was a schemer; he tricked his brother Esau out of his birthright and his blessing. In fear of his brother’s revenge, Jacob fled to the land of his Uncle Laban. Under the care of his uncle, Jacob received a taste of his own medicine. Laban trapped Jacob into working for 14 years in order to marry Rachel, the love of his life. Jacob decided to flee from Laban and, once again, used deceit to escape; however, he was caught this time. God intervened and a treaty was signed between Jacob and Laban. Now Jacob was faced with a tough situation. He could not go back to his father-in-law’s land; the only choice was to go to the land of Esau. Jacob heard that his brother was coming to greet him with 400 fighting men. Terrified, Jacob immediately turned to God in prayer, then schemed a plan to pacify his brother so that he and his family would be spared. He sent gifts at specific intervals to appease his brother’s anger, but his troubles were not over. As Jacob settled down for a good night’s sleep, a man appeared out of nowhere and began a wrestling match with him. We read: “So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak” (Genesis 32:24). God was in the process of drawing Jacob into intimacy, but the journey was going to be painful.
In my own journey of wrestling with God, I sense God speaking into my soul with these words:
David, my son, there is a vast difference between nearness and intimacy. Nearness is closeness without giving up control. Intimacy is immersion into my presence where you have no control. You want the benefits of intimacy without the cost. Intimacy with me always requires death, a complete letting go of everything you think you can control. You are very quick to release your weaknesses and failures, places where you already realize you have no control, but what about your strengths, your image, your gifts, the places where you shine, the places where external affirmation feeds your need for acceptance and approval? You hold onto these tightly because your identity and self-worth are tied so closely to them. You fear letting go of these things because you have trained your heart to rely on them. The consequence is closeness without intimacy, and your soul becomes smaller when it needs to be enlarged. Here is my invitation to release your strengths, your image, your gifts and every other part of your life that feeds your security. I will not remove them. I will infuse them with the fullness of my life. They are mine by design and creation, but I will not force them from you. Give them to me and enter into a place of complete surrender. You will feel so vulnerable, so absolutely undone and completely out of control, but don’t live another moment settling for nearness when you can have intimacy. Come to me. Fall into my arms. Move out of the shadows and into the fullness of my life. Do not be afraid. I’ve got you.
Jacob wrestled with God and, in the end, moved from nearness to intimacy, from a schemer to a prince. He hung on until the blessing of God was released. God touched him in the place of his strength and made him walk with a limp for the rest of his life as a constant sign that God alone is enough. Hebrews records: “By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons, and worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff” (Hebrews 11:21). In every day of leadership, I battle insecurity, the inner fear that I am not enough. It’s my limp, the place where I am constantly reminded that only God is enough. It is a gift that drives me from nearness to intimacy. You are entering into a new year of opportunities, challenges and unknowns. Could it be that the inner wrestling of your soul is God calling you to move from nearness to intimacy? I plead with you, “Don’t live another moment settling for nearness when you can have intimacy!” Do not be afraid. He’s got you!
“God loves to use the humble and the poor as His chosen instruments of highest service” — A.B. Simpson
Please find the original version in C&MA website