SCRIPTURE: Genesis 32:24-28 (TM)
But Jacob stayed behind by himself, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When the man saw that he couldn't get the best of Jacob as they wrestled, he deliberately threw Jacob's hip out of joint. The man said, "Let me go; it's daybreak." Jacob said, "I'm not letting you go 'til you bless me." The man said, "What's your name?" He answered, "Jacob." The man said, "But no longer. Your name is no longer Jacob. From now on it's Israel (God-Wrestler); you've wrestled with God and you've come through."
STORY as told by Leroy Eims:
One spring our family was driving from Fort Lauderdale to Tampa, Florida. As far as the eye could see, orange trees were loaded with fruit. When we stopped for breakfast, I ordered orange juice with my eggs. "I'm sorry," the waitress said. "I can't bring you orange juice. Our machine is broken." At first I was dumbfounded. We were surrounded by millions of oranges, and I knew they had oranges in the kitchen--orange slices garnished our plates. What was the problem? No juice? Hardly. We were surrounded by thousands of gallons of juice. The problem was they had become dependent on a machine to get it. Christians are sometimes like that. They may be surrounded by Bibles in their homes, but if something should happen to the Sunday morning preaching service, they would have no nourishment for their souls. The problem is not a lack of spiritual food--but that many Christians haven't grown enough to know how to get it for themselves.
Wrestling with God is never easy, but necessary if we desire to grow spiritually... to be spiritually fed! How we grow spiritually is dependent upon us. Not on the preacher. Not on the church we might or might not attend. Not on the Sunday school teacher. It is dependent on us.
To be spiritually fed is to wrestle with God through the nights of our souls. It takes time and it takes a lot of hard work. As one old farmer use to say upon arriving at church on Sunday morning, “Well, preacher I’m prayed up and read up and now I’m ready for you.”
This gentleman had discovered that if Sunday morning worship was going to be meaningful he had to do his spiritual work - to get the field of his soul prepared for whatever the preacher was going to plant that morning – long before Sunday morning. He was an old farmer. He had been farming for a long, long time. Experience had taught him that if he was going to have a good harvest in the fall he needed to prepare the field long before it was planting season. Or, as he was fond of sharing: “When the snow falls is when I sharpen my tools. I don’t wait until I need them to get them ready.”
And so it is with our souls. Take the advice of this wise old farmer. Preparation for Sunday begins when we arrive home from church the previous Sunday. Think of it this way. Sunday worship is the daybreak in the Genesis story. The days between the worship experiences are the nights of the soul. The wrestling is our time spent reading scripture, reflecting on what we have read, and the amount we spend talking with God (i.e. praying) … and listening to what he has to share with us. Then comes the daybreak, the worship experience, the blessings from God … and we are spiritually fed.
May we all be spiritually fed … here’s to some good wrestling!
Come God and wrestle with our souls, our spirits today. Don’t let us up. Don’t let us be spiritually lazy. We want to be blessed by you so keep us in that spiritual headlock until the break of day.