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Seeds of the Kingdom

Wrestling with God

by Julie Smith

And He said, ‘Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.
Genesis 32:28, NKJV

When Jacob was travelling back to the land of his father, the land of his destiny, he wrestled with God. He knew God had promised to bless him and he would settle for nothing less than his full inheritance. In the struggle he had to speak out his name, Jacob, meaning ‘Deceiver’, humbly acknowledging his weakness and sinfulness before God. It was after this that his heart and character were changed and he received his new name, Israel, and his God-given inheritance.

There are times for all of us today when we have a choice to be like Jacob, wrestling with God, persevering in pressing in to receive the inheritance that is ours in Christ, to live in the freedom and joy of being sons and daughters of the King, or to do the opposite and fight against Him. Regretfully there are too many times in my own life when I know I have fought against Him. My personal pride has risen up, ignoring my own weaknesses and sinfulness, fighting against God and His way, and pushing to take control and handle things my own way. Until I have come to a place of repentance, not only has this grieved the heart of God but it has been utterly fruitless!

It’s the other kind of wrestling, the wrestling with God against our sin nature to come to a place of humility and honesty that brings the longed for breakthrough in our lives. It is recognising that He is Lord and we are not, and like Jacob, acknowledging those things in ourselves that we neither like nor want – our hidden weaknesses and sinfulness. Like the butterfly whose wings are strengthened to fly as it struggles to free itself from the chrysalis, something is being forged within us in our own personal struggle – our heart and character is being changed. We often wish we could bypass the struggle, but perseverance brings its reward – it’s in the struggle that we learn to trust and depend more on God and less on ourselves – we become more anchored in Him. And the more anchored we are in God (and the less entangled in our own ways of coping in life) the more free we are to fly.

Perhaps, for some of us, even today, we are wrestling with God over a personal problem that we have tried to fix ourselves, or looked to others to fix. It might be an unmet emotional need that we have tried to find our own way of overriding or satisfying, or an inadequacy that we have worked hard to compensate for all our lives, or perhaps it is trusting God with pain that, if we’re honest, we’d rather hold on to or deal with our own way.

As Jacob wrestled with God to receive his promised inheritance, so our gracious, merciful and loving heavenly Father is in the struggle with us. He urges us to come humbly and honestly to Him, confessing the truth about ourselves. He desires to work that change in our hearts and transformation in our characters. He longs for us to know His forgiveness for the ways we have tried to deal with the problem ourselves, His tender comfort in the painful areas and His release into the freedom of the ‘promised land’ of living as His children – trusting less in our own ways, more yielded and dependent on Him and equipped to live out His redemptive purposes for our lives.

Prayer: Father God, I am sorry for the times when I have struggled against You and against Your ways. Like Jacob, I don’t want to settle for anything less than the full inheritance that Jesus won for me on the cross at Calvary. Please help me to press in to yield to You, even in today’s struggle, so that as I choose Your way, You can do Your work of transformation in my heart, and I can move into the ‘promised land’ of my God-given destiny. Amen.

Julie Smith is married to Roger, and they have two grown up children. Having received deep healing in her own life, primarily through ministry at Ellel Grange and then attending the Modular School at Glyndley Manor, she went on to join the Glyndley associate ministry team. She now works part-time for the International Director’s Office and is an associate teacher for the ministry. She is passionate to see others restored and released into the abundant life Jesus won for us all.

 

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