Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Limping Along

I was reading something some time ago, and there was one sentence in particular that jumped out at me and really stuck with me. Paraphrasing, it said "revival will never come to our lives until our Christian walk becomes Jacob's limp" That has kept coming back to my mind over and over lately. I've spent time looking at that and what that really means. The more I read the account of Jacob wrestling with the angel, the more I realized I didn't know the story.

First, it's worth noting that the entire event never happens until Jacob is alone. Before he can encounter God, he is stripped of the stuff that surrounds him.
Second, the order of events is explains what happens better than I do. The angel does the whole touch the hip thing, then insists that Jacob let him go. So even though he was beaten, Jacob was still holding on. I don't know that he was even wrestling with the angel anymore as much as just holding on to him. His goal was no longer to overpower the angel because it was a useless endeavor at this point.
Third, the new name was not his blessing. The angel tells him he will be called Israel rather than Jacob. Then it says that he blessed him. We never know what the blessing is. From our point of view, the actual blessing is kind of irrelevant. The name is just a reflection of who he has become.

In our church, our pastor has been delivering a series of sermons that center on becoming a contagious Christian. He has mentioned on several occasions that you can only be contagious with something that you are already infected with. I think that's what Jacob's limp is about. When we struggle against God and finally come to the breaking point and realize that we are ultimately powerless against him, that his will is the only one that can be accomplished, then we can let go of the struggle and receive the blessing that is in store. I don't intend struggle to mean that we are at war with God, but until we engage Him we can never truly understand that we must approach on his terms. Yes, he accepts me as I am, but the blessing comes from his hand and at his discretion. This superficial Christian life that I've been living accomplishes almost nothing. I keep God at arms length, afraid to struggle and stopping short of what he has in store. I fear the limp, but my I'm not contagious until I limp away.

Friday, October 5, 2007


Are we followers of God? Do we even want to be? I was looking at the life of Elijah and some things struck me about how willing I am to follow God.
I don't know that I necessarily have a lot of Jonah moments when God says one thing and I willfully do the complete opposite. But I have a lot of moments when I don't do the opposite but I could do better. I tell myself that it isn't defiance, after all I didn't do what I wanted. I end up like the little boy in class who was told repeatedly to sit down. After being threatened with punishment, he sits down but adds "I'm still standing on the inside". I wonder what God has in store for me and when I'm honest the answer is not too much. Not because God is unable or doesn't love me, but because I'm a petulant child who just wants my way.
Look at Elijah by comparison. James 5 points out the Elijah was just a guy like the rest of us. He didn't have some kind of head start. What he had was obedience. He shows up on the scene, makes his way to Ahab and announces it won't rain until he says so. That's his prophetic debut. Clearly, great things are in store for him. He faces down a tyrant and comes away unscathed. This guy is on his way to prophet stardom. What does God tell him to do with his newfound celebrity? Go hide in the wilderness. After that, go live with a widow and her kid. How often does God do that - send us in the opposite direction of where we thought we were headed? In hindsight, we see that God had greater things in store for Elijah than he could imagine, but God had to prepare him. The key is that Elijah obeyed with no promise of a bright future. God's instructions to Elijah made no sense from our standpoint. But if we can't obey at the beginning, we won't make it to the end.
Are we willing to follow God no matter where it takes us? Will we follow even if the path leads to obscurity? It's easy to obey when we believe there is something better at the end. Oddly enough, God does make that promise, but it's not necessarily what I'm looking for. If I'll obey, God comes closer to me. For some reason, my life crowds out the value of that transaction. As if that somehow isn't the best deal going. What could be more valuable than that? It seems so easy, but here I stand on Mt. Carmel faltering between choices.