A couple of weeks ago, our pastor preached a very timely message with regards to my personal mission to find space in my life by releasing at least 10 things every day until the end of the year. The scripture was from Genesis 32, Jacob wrestling with God.
The pastor started out talking about change, and how hard it is to change. He challenged us with the question, if you were told that you needed to change or you would die, beyond the shadow of a doubt, would you change? I think most of the folks there were kind of nodding to themselves, saying, of course I would! But I was like, nope. I mean, I've been told over and over, and I believe it, that by being overweight, by not exercising regularly, and by gorging on sugar I'm shortening my life, but have I changed? Nope. I have good intentions, a good start, but then something or another gets in the way, and its back to sitting around feeling sorry for myself and engaging in emotional eating, trying to fill the God-shaped hole in my life with food. It is just so hard to change, even to save my own life.
Dan went on to tell us that studies have shown that less than 10% of people actually will make a change when faced with that situation. I totally believe that number.
Then he said that studies have shown that in the U.S., charitable giving, as a percentage of income, decreases as income increases. In other words, people who have less money are more generous. And here's where he started talking about clutter. When our incomes rise, we come to believe that we are responsible for our own success or failure. We come to believe that our security depends on holding on to as much as we can: money, possessions, even time, rather than depending on God's provenance and grace. We begin to hoard what we have rather than trusting that God will provide everything that we need.
So what does that all have to do with Jacob wrestling with God? Change is hard. If you remember the story, Jacob would not stop wrestling until God blessed him, and in the process, God changed Jacob's name and the course of his life. God wants each of us to live a transformed life, he wants to change each of us, but we need to be willing to wrestle until God blesses us. We can change, if we only trust less in our power and more in God.
My friends, are you trusting in your possessions to secure your future? Are you holding on to things you don't really want or even need because you might need it someday? Or are you trusting in the One who cares for the birds who do not sew or reap, but are fed, and the flowers of the field, who do not labor but are clothed in splendor? God cares for you so much more than the birds or the flowers and God will provide for your needs.
With what do you need to wrestle? With what are you trying to fill the God-shaped hole in your soul?
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22 That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two female servants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23 After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. 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, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”
29 Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.”
But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there.
30 So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.”
31 The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip.