Faces on Faith: The wounds of the blessing
Someone has suggested that “all scriptures are not created equal.” I’m not sure I agree, but I am keenly aware that some passages in the Bible touch and speak to me more than others.
One set of stories that rivets my attention, captures my heart, and speaks to my spirit are the Jacob stories found in the Hebrew Scriptures. Frederick Buchner begins an essay on Jacob with these words:
“The Book of Genesis makes no attempt to conceal the fact that Jacob was, among other things, a crook. What’s more, you get the feeling that whoever wrote up his seamy adventures got a real kick out of them.”
No sanitized saint, this Jacob. He is indeed a character and like most of us a strange amalgam of saint and sinner! Still, this less than perfect person experienced God and lived to tell about it. In fact, we are told, he wrestled with God through a long night of struggle.
Hymn writer and one of the founders of the Methodist tribe, Charles Wesley, saw in Jacob’s story his own story of coming to faith and realizing God’s blessing. He writes:
“Come, O thou traveler unknown, Whom will I hold, but cannot see; My company before is gone; And I am left alone with thee; With thee all night I mean to stay, And wrestle till the break of day. My prayer hath power with God; the grace Unspeakable I now receive. Through faith I see Thee face to face—I see Thee face to face and live! In vain I have not wept and strove—Thy Nature and Thy Name is Love.
Like Jacob, Wesley wrestled until he was blessed, blessed with an inner assurance that God’s nature and name is love.
For Jacob, the blessing of his discovery of God and new paradigm for his life carried with it a twist -with the blessing comes a limp-a reminder of where we have been on our journey of life and where we are going!
Our past, our struggles, and our transformations leave their marks that never go away.
Jacob’s story reminds us that in life we experience moments/seasons when we are not in control. We thought we were in control.
We believed we had figured out ways to get what we wanted from life, but then the doctor’s diagnosis that forever changes our options, or our child’s unexpected and unwanted rebellion causing all hell breaks out, or a spouse/partner turns away from us and we are left alone and broken.
Like Jacob of old, we realize ourselves wrestling with God and with life. Wrestling with God, life and self can tare our soul from its socket.
It is in such times that we do well to, like Jacob, to hold on and not let go. As awful as life’s transitions can be, there is usually a blessing to be gained if we just hold on-to God, to life, to the conviction that something can be gained from this wrestling match.
Don’t let go until blessing is realized and the discovery is made that we are able to live into the realities of our lives that might diminish or destroy us in the strength of the One whose name is Love.
When life tumbles in, hold on, don’t let go and stubbornly cry out: “I will not let go until I’m blessed!” Don’t be surprised if you are left with a ‘limp’ for the rest of your lifethe wound of your blessing.
Grace and Peace to each and all!
George Morris, Chapel by the Sea