Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Beyond Deception

Genesis to Now:
Beyond Deception

 Dear Christa--
Sometimes, in fear and at a loss of what to do is just where God wants us to be. Indeed, isn’t it when we have no place to turn and we’ve exhausted our own resources that we totally fall before God and “struggle” with him?
Here, in the dark, after 20 years of work and deception, Jacob finally acknowledges what he really wants is to be blessed by God. Finally, in a night of wrestling between himself and God, Jacob commits to God Himself. Jacob may have appeared to win in this struggle, but the wound the Lord gave him was a daily reminder—every time he took a step—that ultimately God controlled his destiny.
We would think that Jacob at long last would have learned his lesson and not resorted to deception, but human frailty is hard to set aside, and the temptation to color our world through the lens of all sorts of deception is a life long struggle far beyond one night’s revelation. Didn’t even Jesus infer in His teachings that in this earthly and fallen nature mere people naturally walk like the deceiver who first trapped Eve?
And surely all these examples serve as our warning that from generation to generation we will war against the bent toward self deception, which is probably the very worst kind.
Jacob received God’s blessing, but the true Redeemer was yet ages to come—the only one Who can truly help us to walk a path of light
—the parishioner who doesn’t do anything

Friday, July 17, 2015


Dear Christa—
When I first looked at Genesis 32 where Jacob wrestled with God, the application struck me a little differently than it does today as I look back over it. It’s true that we often struggle with God one way or another. It’s also significant to see the motive Jacob had for his struggle.
Jacob struggled with God for the purpose and desire to be blessed by God. This is saying a great deal, especially considering his natural bent—to depend on himself, his own wiliness in his situation—but not this night. This night Jacob recognized a world beyond the physical, a world he could neither manipulate nor control.
Yet, Jacob desired a blessing. Don’t we all? Jacob desired a blessing and somehow he knew the key to his life lay with this “man.” So, he wrestled—wrestling with the knowledge that real blessing comes from God.
So here this night is in some ways not so different from the night long ago as he fled away from home. Then, he was heading toward the unknown with a stolen blessing. Now, once again the unknown awaits; and if there is one thing he needs, it’s a blessing—not the kind people give but the kind that truly matters.
Jacob does not give up. He struggles, and as he wrestles he realizes he struggles with something far greater than himself. This time, so unlike with his father, he seeks a blessing, not with duplicity, pretending he’s someone he isn’t’, but he asks for it outright. Without giving up, he struggles on hour after hour all through the dark night.
So I ask myself: Do I desire the blessing of God as Jacob did? How willing am I to hold on to God—all through the dark nights and days of life? To wrestle till there is blessing. To wrestle till morning’s golden light.
To wrestle for a blessing means something so different from materialism and fame. To wrestle with God is to really know Him and know we need Him. To hold on in times of the unknown and fear. To hang on both night and day. To never give up on Him. To always be amazed by Him and that He regards us individually, not as some mass creation or robot He’s put into motion.
In the morning “Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, ‘It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.”
To wrestle with God is to hold fast always because we know God. We touch Him and He spares us in all His omnipotence. And though He should wound us, we still wrestle—we wrestle for His blessing.
—the parishioner who doesn’t do anything

Monday, July 6, 2015

When Fear Besets Us

From Genesis to Now:
When Fear Besets Us

Dear Christa—
After 20 years of working for Laban, Jacob’s life is changing. God is always at work bringing about his plan, but often as we move through life, it’s just hard to see. Day in, day out, Jacob worked Laban’s flocks. Night in, night out, he dealt with two competing sisters and two maids, who likely felt more used than anything else.
But, the day came when angels appeared and Jacob was heading home. He didn’t know what lay ahead, but at least it was different, and it involved dreams from God and an angelic appearance. Even considering his fear of the unknown, it had to be exciting. Change typically brings excitement…and fear.
Twenty years can change a person—at least to some extent—and notice how Jacob approaches his brother. He refers to Esau as “my master” and himself as “your servant.” And, he wants to “find favor” with the brother he’d so terribly wronged. Sometimes fear forces us to recognize our faults and past sins.
Twenty years had changed Esau as well. Perhaps, he’d been more attentive to his parents. Perhaps he’d come to accept God’s plan for his life. We don’t know. All we know is that 20 years gives time to ponder one’s regrets and Esau’s animosity is gone, but Jacob doesn’t know this.
So, Jacob finally, totally turns to the God who’d sought him—the God who saw him for what he was and who’d blessed him far more than he deserved or expected anyway.
As Jacob, we realize that we, too, are unworthy of God’s kindness and faithfulness.
And even as Jacob leans into the one true God, he still doesn’t refer to him as his own God. It’s interesting that God is so busy at work in the life of a man who only sees God as the god of his father. But, Jacob is in a pickle, so to speak, so he turns to the only effectual god he knows. Trouble has a way of doing that.
So, Jacob prays in the fear of his brother Esau and sets a plan to meet him.
—the parishioner who doesn’t do anything