..."and a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the way of holiness; evil minded people shall not travel on it, but it shall be for those wayfarers who are traveling toward God. (Isaiah 35:8, adapted)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Devotions From the Heart: Hanging On

by Derek Gitsham

And he said, "Let me go for the day
breaketh.’ And he said, "I will not let
Thee go except Thou bless me." Genesis 22:26

This particular part of the story in the
life of Jacob is indicative of him
throughout his life. When he was born,
Esau was the firstborn and Jacob came out
with his hand holding onto Esau’s heel.

In the above encounter again we read that
Jacob is now holding onto the angel that
came and fought with him. Jacob was tenacious
in life; he was determined to get hold of
all that life offered him. While others
slept, he worked, planned and schemed.
The early days of his life were marked by
episodes of scheming: one with his brother’s
birthright, the other with deceiving his
father into believing he was Esau and
obtaining the blessing.

From the womb it was prophesied that Jacob
would be the greater of the two men: that
he would be the inheritor of the blessing of
Abraham, but we read of the awful ways that
Jacob resorted to getting it. All this
would have to change.

The meeting of the angel was all in the
plan of God. If God was going to be able
to use Jacob he had to be changed. Malachi 1
records a verse that says, ‘Jacob I loved but
Esau I hated’ (verse 2-3). Did God love the
desire in Jacob to be blest and despised the
lack of interest in Esau? Only God knows.
Yet God was intent here in blessing Jacob.

The angel meets with a real challenge in him.
Unable to break Jacob’s hold on the angel,
the angel lames him by touching the hollow
of his thigh. He now has a limp, yet
continues to hold onto the angel. The first
grip of the angel was Jacob’s grip; touching
him and weakening him, he now hangs on with
renewed strength, so much so that the angel
asks him to let him go.

Jacob was stronger when weakened, because now
he was in the strength of the Lord. ‘When I am
weak then I am strong’ (II Corinthians 12:10).
As great as natural strength may be it is not
the strength of the Lord. To be able to move
on, and to hang on to God throughout life,
Jacob needed God's strength made perfect in his
weakness. That day Jacob died to himself.
Love of self and his relationship with himself
died and a new relationship arose. Because of
it, he claimed that he saw God face-to-face
and lived.

It was then God had changed his name (verse 30).
All was new. We need His strength now, not our
own, if we are to pursue God and all that lies
ahead for us.

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