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Jacob: Setting the Stage for Striving with God!

Jeff Greenberg

NOW, consider Jacob and his journey to leadership. We read in Genesis about this canny, sly,

usurper, that by self-promotion and deceit, made himself the "Son of Blessing" while older

brother Esau sold his birthright for a meal. Both fellows were rather sketchy types. However,

inside, Jacob was more than his faulty human desires.

About to get his rear-end kicked?

He was about to encounter the brother whom he had bypassed on the way to power and

prominence. Jacob was very fearful about getting his rear-end kicked by an angry Esau, so he

amassed a BIG gift to hopefully appease him. Meanwhile, back at the camp, Jacob is alone,

when a certain strange guy shows up and challenges our "hero" to a wrestling match.

I once joined a high school wrestling team and found out how miserably difficult it is to engage

in grappling for even five minutes with a decent opponent. Jacob's opponent fought for many

hours and yet could not get J to say, "uncle" or ";I give." Jacob demonstrated persistence- determination for a blessing. Asking the name of his opponent, the Champ asked J, "Why do you ask?" J knew. He would not yield until blessed. And so, the Superior-one dislocated Jacob's hip and changed the human's name to highlight that moral-spiritual battle. HE STRIVED WITH GOD is the biblical translation of “Jacob” into “Israel”. Esau came and was wonderfully reconciled to Israel/Jacob.

Denying self – a long, painful, lonely path:

Among the many interesting characters described in the Bible, I have to put myself in Jacob's

line. That is, I have been a short-cut-taking, too often dishonest, self-promoter. And yet, I am

greatly blessed. My wrestling with God has come through family strife and many, many humbling

experiences to show how the shortcuts just don't cut it. I guess our lesson for today is: WE ARE



"Denying ourselves", in a Holy way, means that wrestling is an essential means. PERSISTENCE,

or as Peterson put it, "A long Obedience in the Same Direction", is the only path to Eternity. This

journey really hurts so very often. We would never choose so many of our life's events (just ask


"Pick up your cross and follow Me" (Matt 16:24). Oh, must I/we? Isn't there an easier way?

Faulty vessels always in demand!

Today, I pray thanks for an apparently-achieved big part of my goals. Funding is finally coming

to initiate a project for studying stormwater here in E-C Florida. The project is for GOOD. It has

and continues to have many obstacles to success. The obstacles themselves involve human frailty

from others and, of course, myself. Getting the $$ for the work has been quite humbling and has

left some wounds. Other blessings have involved wrestling with our family finances and causing

me to accept and understand that the money is not my own.

To go with the PERSISTENCE, I have PATIENCE (the wrestling never really gets finished) and

OBLIGATION, in that my/our mission of the soul is still greater than any sin or frailty. God uses

faulty vessels. He makes and breaks them for use. Our true, spiritual selves are greater than all

the weaknesses. Job battled, emerged battered & broken, and won. Jacob, the same. Jesus, God of

all Creation, led the way with what human minds consider impossible absurdity.

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