Chapter-a-Day Genesis 32
The man said, “But no longer. Your name is no longer Jacob. From now on it’s Israel (God-Wrestler); you’ve wrestled with God and you’ve come through.” Genesis 32:28 (MSG)
When you grow up in Iowa, wrestling has a significance you don’t find in most other places. The sport of wrestling is huge in Iowa. The annual wrestling match between Iowa and Iowa State “grapplers” will pack in record crowds. When I was in junior high, there was a mandatory P.E. class on wrestling that every guy had to take. Wrestlers like Dan Gable are elevated to near deity status in this state. It’s part of the charm of growing up and living in Iowa. It’s a quirky place.
I mention this because, as I read this morning’s chapter, I realized that I might have a layer of understanding that comes from growing up in Iowa. I was never a great wrestler and never had any interest in the sport, but growing up here required that I at least learn how to grapple in that wrestling ring and experience it on numerous occasions. There is something to be said for facing your fear, staring at an opponent face-to-face, and going at it. You quickly realize that the struggle is both with your opponent and with yourself.
There is a spiritual lesson here because I’ve come to understand that being a follower of Jesus is not something you can do on the sidelines. You cannot sit along the side of the road and watch others’ journeys and expect it to make a difference in your own life. The lesson of Jacob/Israel is that at some point you have to look God face to face and be willing to struggle. You have to hear Jesus’ call to follow and take that step of faith to leave an old way of life to begin a new. Talk about wrestling with a decision.
I’ve come to believe that until we are willing to wrestle with God we are all Jacobs; We are all just deceivers deceiving ourselves. To truly learn how to come through this journey in spiritual wholeness, full of life and in relationship with God, we have to be willing to step in the ring and grapple with both God and with ourselves.
- Great Prayers of the Bible – Jacob Wrestling with God…do you have a new name? (pastormikesays.wordpress.com)
- Video: Dan Gable on “Fox & Friends” (thegazette.com)