Everyone walks into a church with different life experiences and different levels of comfortability with God. Whether this is the first time you’ve been curious about God or you’ve had a longer journey – we invite you on your journey of discovery.
One of my favorite stories is when Jacob wrestles with God. Jacob was returning to make peace with his brother Esau. On his journey home, Jacob takes a night to intentionally be alone.
Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When the man saw that he could not defeat him, he struck Jacob’s hip socket as they wrestled and dislocated his hip. Then he said to Jacob, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.”
But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”
“What is your name?” the man asked.
“Jacob,” he replied.
“Your name will no longer be Jacob,” he said. “It will be Israel because you have struggled with God and with men and have prevailed.”
Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.”
But he answered, “Why do you ask my name?” And he blessed him there (Genesis 32:24-29).
Two incredible things happen in Jacob’s wrestle with God. The first, God gives Jacob a new name – Israel. In the Bible, a new name is akin to a new identity. The outward change of Jacob’s name reflects an inward change of his heart.
Secondly, up until this chapter Jacob refers to God as the God of my grandfather Abraham and the God of my father Isaac (see Genesis 32:9, Genesis 31:42, and Genesis 28:13). But in Genesis 33, one chapter after he wrestles God, Jacob says:
And he set up an altar there and called it “God, the God of Israel” (Genesis 33:20).
Did you catch that? “The God of Israel” – Jacob’s God.
Jacob’s relationship with God becomes personal. He declares that God is His God and spends the rest of his life walking in closeness with Him. This night forever changes Jacob’s life.
There have been times in my life and will be times in the future where I wrestle with God. But we see from the story that God allows Jacob to wrestle with Him and even blesses him for it.
Life is frustrating and complex and painful at times. God’s ways have seemed confusing to me before. I have felt frustrated with the things He allows to happen. And yet there is a war between my flesh that disagrees or is even angry with God’s ways and my spirit that cries out for Him knowing I need Him.
I invite you to leave room for the wrestle. Once you have an encounter with God, your life will never be the same.
I also want to invite you to let others in on your journey. I encourage you to join a small group and get to know a group of people on a deeper level. We have adult small groups, as well as small groups for men and women.
God is big enough to handle your questions. He is not the author of confusion but the author of peace. God loves you deeply and His desire is to know you and be known by you.
Pastor Eric Mosemann