Remember Mathematics?

You know this feeling:  an abrupt and clear revelation takes place in your brain so intensely, you feel pretty silly that you didn’t think of it sooner than it came.  It’s almost like working on an arithmetic problem for a grueling forty five minutes, for instance 2 (4 + 9) – 4 (3 – 8 + 1), unsure of why your answer is not matching the solution in the back of the textbook (we’ve all done it before).  But alas, it hits you like a thousand rocks:  you forgot the order of operations!  Indeed, the obvious answer makes perfect sense now. 

I have often wondered about Jacob in the Bible and the “man” that he wrestled with overnight since I first became interested in reading the Bible as a young teenager.  Why would the Lord touch his hip and leave him impaired for the rest of his life?  Well, that “AHA!” moment came to me after reading the piece below from my NIV Women’s Devotional Bible:

—–

He Breaks Us to Make Us

Read:  Genesis 32:22-32

So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak.  When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man.  Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.”  But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”  Genesis 32:24-26

Related Readings:  Psalms 23; 51:15-17; James 1:2-5; 1 Peter 4:12-14

There’s a good reason God calls his people sheep.  Sometimes they act ba-a-a-ad and wander away from the paths He has mapped out for them.

A good shepherd will relentlessly search for a wayward sheep.  Sometimes, if the sheep refuses to follow his master, the shepherd takes drastic action.  He breaks the sheep’s leg, places it upon his shoulders and carries the sheep until it learns total dependence.  This is tough love – the shepherd breaks the sheep to make sure the sheep always follows the shepherd.

Jacob had always been a wanderer.  He fled his home in Beersheba to escape his brother’s wrath and find a wife in Haran.  On his journey, he encountered God at a place called Bethel and saw a stairway leading to heaven.  Years later, Jacob left Haran along with his wives, children and property.  One night he found himself at Jabbok, utterly alone.  At this solitary place God, in the form of “a man,” sought out Jacob.  God wanted to make Jacob into a different person, so He took drastic action.  He initiated a wrestling match that lasted from dusk till dawn.  Jacob’s willfulness would not allow him to give up.  So the man “broke” Jacob, touching his hip so that he walked with a limp for the rest of his life.  Many people might become bitter and turn away from God for breaking them.  But Jacob had just the opposite response.  He clung to God saying, “I will not let You go unless you bless me.”

We may think that a God of love would never allow His children to feel any pain.  But sometimes God breaks us to make us better.  He may break our hearts so we will make room for Him there.  He may break our will so we can discover His will for us.  He may break our physical strength so we discover that God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness (see 2 Corinthians 12:9).  Like Jacob, the best response to God’s tough love is to cling to Him and earnestly pray, “I will not let You go unless You bless me.”

If you’ve been acting like ba-a-a-ad sheep and have wandered off the path, climb up on the Shepherd’s shoulders and let Him carry you home to healing.

Reflection:

1)       Describe the times you have wandered from God and how you sensed Him relentlessly seeking you.

2)      How has God broken you physically, emotionally, or spiritually?  What was the result?

3)      God is a good shepherd; thank Him for His care for you even when you don’t always understand His methods.

—–

Maybe you haven’t completely walked away into the wilderness.  Perhaps you have made a few choices that seemed harmless at first, but realize now that your guard has gradually become compromised.  Take some time to pray and ask the Lord to help redirect your steps and bring you back into the light.  And if you have somehow forgotten the order of operations, remember that He first loved you (1 John 4:19)!

God bless you!

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