God delights in perseverance

Then he said, “Let me go, for the day is breaking.”  But Jacob said, “ I will not let you go, unless you bless me.”     Genesis 32:26 [22–30]

Oh, but do I enjoy these texts this morning!  The Gospel [Luke 18:1-8] is a parable told by Jesus and its primary purpose is so that we do not lose heart when we pray.  Jesus tells of a widow, who because she was a woman without a husband, in that culture she could not bring suit in a court of law – she had no man to speak in her behalf.  So when she had a problem, and she needed to prosecute, she did the only thing she could: she bugged the living daylights out of the prosecutor, until finally in exasperation, foaming at the mouth, he cries out, ”This blankety-blank woman is going to be the death of me!  Just to get her off my back I’ll take the case!”

How strange it is that Jesus would use this less than exemplary parable to startle us with the thought that God doesn’t mind us irritating Him concerning something that we feel strongly about.  In one parish, there was a woman, who seemed to have this kind of relationship with the Lord.  She told how she would get results from the Lord, and she figured it was because every time she’d pray, the Lord would say,  ”Oh, no!!  Here she comes again!!”

But I guess I am most struck by the Old Testament Lesson.  You talk about butterflies in the stomach, well, Jacob had small birds fighting for space in there.  He was terrified.  Now, all that was to happen was that he would meet his brother the next day – you remember Esau – the one whom Jacob swindled out of his birthright;  you know, Esau – the one from whom by subterfuge Jacob stole his patriarchal blessing;  that’s right, Esau – the one who promised that Jacob’s scalp would hang on his belt the next time he got his hands on him.

Well, Esau was coming to meet him the next day with 400 men.  That clacking noise you heard in the background was Jacob’s knees – he was scared!  He sent ahead his wives and children in two groups, hoping that if Esau had murder on his mind, after wading through them, by the time he got to Jacob perhaps he would be appeased.  Jacob wasn’t worried much about chivalry!

I believe that the wrestling match that took place that night was that God wanted Jacob to go on and meet Esau and get back into the Promised Land; meanwhile, Jacob’s intestinal fortitude, otherwise known as his “guts”, having long since turned to water, made him want to use a washroom in some town somewhere over that last hill.  God was forcing Jacob to face the music and take whatever lumps he had coming.

In other words, God’s desire is that a person REPENTS, and in that repentance, he owns up to where he hurt others, and that he faces the music.  But that’s because God knows that reconciliation CANNOT take place without it.  God wanted Jacob and Esau to remove the barrier of the past once and for all.  As it turned out, the next day Esau completely ignored Jacob’s family and walked directly up to Jacob – and gave him a bear-hug of a welcome home.  And for the first time in his life, Jacob discovered the depth of what it means to be completely forgiven.  I believe this event changed Jacob forever, and that is why the Lord changed his name, signifying that a different person would emerge from this experience.

But to get back to that wrestling match, what an uplift to hear Jacob speak the words of the text. Here is a man, terrified of the future; flattened by the burden of his past, particularly his sins; crawling literally on his hands and knees to escape, and God stands in his way.  So he throws his arms around the Lord’s knees, as it were, hangs on for dear life, and just will not let go until the Lord gives him something, something.

Have you ever been in Jacob’s shoes?   Have you ever made such a mess of life, and now the Lord demands of you to go back and clean it up – because only until you finally have cleaned it up will you stop running away from it (or from a particular person)?  Or it may be something that you so strongly want, and yet you are confronted with the helplessness and the weaknesses and the frailties of your power – and there is just no way that you can make happen what you know must happen?

And the anguish of the heart just pours out, there is a WAR tearing up and down your insides. What a delight to have Jacob urge us to throw our arms around the knees of the Lord and REFUSE to let go unless He bless us.

But how can you do that?  Isn’t that being a mite bit audacious with the Lord God, Creator of the Universe?  Who are WE to demand of HIM?  But this reaction is our sinful nature and Satan ganging up on us.  Our sinful nature doesn’t want to give up any territory to the Lord, and Satan doesn’t want to see anything resolved, because the longer it isn’t, the longer he can make us suffer, the longer the broken relationships of our sins will last.

Subsequently, make beyond any doubt to bring generic tadalafil uk with wellbeing measures to get more secure results. levitra is very effective. Using alcohol that attempt to escape such as some’s trouble and consequently trouble. 2. The only cure for panic brand viagra 100mg http://seanamic.com/our-strategy/ attacks is medicinal prescription. By performing this activity Zulvera gains more popularity in recent years as the price of medication keeps rising in US. But we forget that we can wrap our arms around God’s knees BY THE INVITATION OF GOD HIMSELF!  Jesus in today’s Gospel instructs us to continually annoy God concerning those things which mean a lot to us.  And the Old Testament Lesson was written so that we might see God at work with man, and that God did not rebuke Jacob in the least, but rather gave him the very blessing needed.

I have found that I use Jacob’s prayer more and more throughout my life.  I come before the Lord and I throw my arms around His knees, and I hang on as we struggle together, but I will not let Him go, unless He blesses me.  The strange thing is, that when I do this, I find not the Lord’s displeasure, but rather a certain joy and peace, a certain directioning of my life, a comfort and a clear hope given to me.  Maybe it is something unpleasant I have to do, or maybe it is something I have been so looking forward to, or it is something which is just so necessary and important that it has to be – these are the times to throw my arms around the Lord and refuse to let go unless He blesses me.

I think one reason why the Lord thoroughly enjoys our wrestling matches with Him is because we are letting Him be God, and we are recognizing that we are indeed His creatures.  We are learning to DEPEND on Him which is necessary if we are to have a truthful relationship with God.  Our sin-infected natures constantly try to take over God’s position of power, control, and ability.  We want to run things by our command and wisdom, we want to tightly control what we think is right and wrong,  we want to force a certain outcome, we want to rule in the place of God.

But only when we are driven by terror, or by yearning, or by desperate hope to throw our arms around the knees of God, are we finally acknowledging the true positions He and we have.  He is the God, the only One we can turn to, He is the Creator, and we but His creatures.

This same thing weaves its way into our salvation.  As was so vividly demonstrated in a canvas of a town in a former parish, 90% of the people who answered gave answers of basically relying on their own power and ability, on their own goodness. How sad it is that God must drive us to our knees in terror, to be left with nothing in our hands with which to rescue the situation, as He did to Jacob.  How disappointing to God that He must shove our noses into the broken relationships caused by our sin, and the effects of how we have hurt each other through our carelessnesses and our deliberate rejection of others – just so that He could bring us to repentance.

How it must hurt Him to terrorize us with the realization that our sins demand death – that terrible loneliness of being without anything, without any connection to God, which describes Hell!  How it must make God so sad to have to drive us to our knees to make us finally abandon all hope in ourselves, so that we throw our arms around His knees and refuse to let go without something, SOMETHING which can help.  That desperate turmoil within some area of our lives goes on even right now and right here.

And then, here especially, how gently a hand comes down to lift our head, and we realize that the knees to which we hold tightly are Jesus’. That hand has been pierced through, so that we might know the depth of forgiveness, just as was reflected from God to Jacob through the depth of Esau’s forgiveness.  Again here especially, in the Communion Bread, we find the atmosphere of how the Lord can bind us together into one Body within His forgiveness, dissolving the barriers which our human natures so easily build up.

In the Cup of Blessing, we are again confronted with His shed Blood, with His excitement of total Life, with the compelling love and mercy from the depths of His Soul; here in the richness and substance of His Word [II Timothy 3:14 – 4:5], in the commitment of His unbreakable promises, in the boldness of His presence, in His control to bring good out of all things, we have the foundation to step forward in His will, even when our steps are shaky and our hearts beat with apprehension, there still can be a determination which carries us forward into the work, the perspectives, and the attitudes we need to meet the situations we face.

Jesus lifts us up, not just to our feet, but to the heavens, to remind us of what He has prepared for us, the place which He is determined to be our home with Him forever.  And then He brings us back down to earth, with the blessing – a most unique blessing – because we know that wherever we go, the outcome and destination is settled, and Jesus will be right here, right by our side – HE is going to be right in the middle of everything which touches US.

Yes, when we are in the midst of hanging on to His knees, the circumstances we face can cloud our vision of how He is blessing us; however, that does not inhibit what He has promised to do and to be for us, it will not hinder His Word to us about His involvement in those things which we face, nor are His results diminished.  Like Jacob, we also can rise up to greet the day, to do those things which are necessary to clean up our messes, even though it is sometimes with a limp left over from the night of wrestling with a caring and involved Lord.

Boy, what Good News both the Old and the New Testament lessons have for us today!  Be persistent, hold fast to Jesus – don’t dare let Him go, unless He blesses you, then step forward to do what you need to do and to see how those blessings change your future.  That’s the way He wants it, and that’s the way you WILL be blessed!

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