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Thursday, November 17, 2016

Attacked by God

Out of the mouths of babes...
Yes, it seems my kids are so often putting it into perspective for me. Or sharpening a perspective. Or making me rethink a long-held, entrenched perspective.

I've been attempting to hold a weekly Bible study with my two elementary-age daughters this fall. We've had some good moments. Most have been trying. I'm far better equipped to teach and explore with older kids and adults than I am with the younger ones, but we keep doing it.

My goal is to touch key points throughout scripture, showing them how God has determined to have a people for himself, and how he makes that possible in Jesus. So far, we've lingered in Genesis longer than I initially planned, but there have been some rich portions to take from it, so it's worth it.

Last week, we talked about Jacob wrestling the Angel of God all night, and clinging to him, saying, "I won't let you go until you bless me." I thought I had communicated the way I envisioned that scene, but you never know what literal-thinking little ones actually come away with.

Last night, we sat down to move on to the sons of Jacob, and I asked if they remembered who Jacob was. Jill's hand shot up, her body wiggling all over like a puppy greeting its master after a separation. "I know! I know!"

"He's the one who got attacked by God!"

What a humbling moment for me. I always think that story is about me, and how I resist God, and how I try to control him for my purposes. It's me-centric in my perception. Or it was, until that innocent and honest and forthright statement. Those of you who know me know it is true: She wrestles with God. Daily. Hourly. I love him and I want him and I do not understand where this is all going and what he wants from me, but I will NOT let him go until he blesses me.

What Jill remembered, though, was that God initiated. God came upon Jacob. God began this altercation with the schemer who was walking his walk as confidently as the Bee Gees approaching a movie camera. He was slithering his way into the life he wanted and he was getting it done. He'd already secured the familial favor of inheritance from his impulsive brother by trickery--no need to wait on parent or labor or even the promise of God for that. Matters well in his own hands. And how did God respond with a "blessing"?

He injured Jacob. He touched his hip so that from that point forward, Jacob walked with a limp. The rest of his life.

No more arrogant strutting for Jacob. No more moving ahead confidently only in his own strength. God hurt him--permanently. To bless him.

From that day forward, every step the supplanter took (that's what the name Jacob means) was a step in remembrance that he was now Israel--he who wrestles with God. And every step would be a reminder of dependence on the one who was guiding those steps already, the one who determines the outcome, which is that he will be our God and we will be his people.

It will be. Whatever it takes.

Oh, how I have prayed, for myself, for my friends, for my children: "Relent, God! Relent! It is too much for us!"

I never would have articulated it this way before: attacked by God. But I've felt it. Haven't you?

Can we look at the patriarch, the hardship of his life, the wandering, the hunger, need, broken families, assault of his daughter, assumption that his most beloved son was dead, uprooting, and then... outrageous, unlikely, lavish, excessive blessing even in this life--the land of the living--with the unthinkable yet to come in the next? Can we claim it too? That it's for a reason, he has a purpose and that I don't get it! I don't get why the injury has to be but will open wounds that are fertile ground for prodigal good--

I don't get it. But I believe it. Can we believe it together? If so, tell me. Tell each other. Tell how he attacked you to bless you and how you're singing as you limp through. As long as it is called today, will you share your wounds to move us all forward? I sincerely want to hear your stories, oh nation of priests. Preach to me of how you were attacked by God and blessed in it.

And if you're not yet sure, keep wrestling. Hold on, and don't let him go until he blesses you. It's what he's about. It's what he does.

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