Recently, I watched a show called Epic American Castles about large, mammoth homes here in the United States. No doubt the homes are showcased as the pinnacle of success. In the episode I watched, the owners had the financial ability to enforce their will on everything associated with the building of their home. Money is power and they used that power to get what they wanted. I wonder now just how satisfied they are. I would be willing to bet my life savings that they are less than fulfilled.
A man came to Jacob during a night when Jacob was by himself. He wrestled with Jacob until morning and when he realized he couldn’t defeat Jacob, he touched his hip socket and permanently disabled him such that Jacob walked with a limp for the balance of his life (Genesis 32.22-32). After that, we’re told, Jacob was transformed in this event, having his name changed to Israel. At the end of the struggle, Jacob demanded that the man (who really was God) bless him – a blessing which he received. Jacob must have been a man of physical strength and exceptional, visceral fortitude to have wrestled all night with God.
You see, in the first story, the men who built these epic castles had (have?) such elaborate appetites that they are willing to spend millions on themselves. Personally, I think the size of their house reveals just how far they will go to fill the empty hole inside them. These attempts at satisfaction are elusive. They are truly men who have gained the whole world and are in danger of losing their own souls. In the second story, we have a man who knows God, but is far from fully submitted to God’s will for him. So he wrestles with God and at the end, demands a blessing (!!!). God has to permanently disfigure Jacob and change his identity before Jacob will be the man whom God has created him to be.
A battle of wills ensues within all of us. Without Christ, you’re battle is within yourself and you have no one who can help you alleviate your suffering. You’ll go on, throughout life, managing the battle between the parts of your persona – sometimes keeping them completely hidden from the view of others. But the struggle will never end.
If you know Christ, you might still battle with God. You’ll struggle for who is in control. You’ll have your ideas – your plans – your path to success. God will ask you to sacrifice this so that you follow, not struggle with, God. But you’ll resist that sacrifice. You’ll struggle because you know better. After all, you have it all worked out. You know what’s best, right? We have our MBA’s and consultants, we know how to make a good company great. We have developed the discipline of getting things done. We have learned to make the difficult and courageous decisions when there is no clear or easy answer. We have improved our processes and strengthened our balance sheets. We have established smart partnerships that increase net revenue and profit for both parties. We know how to do business. And tomorrow, we’re going to go to another city and transact business and create even more profit.
Yet God is calling us to something greater. Something that will involve ending the struggle of wills. Do you know what that “something” is? Read the life of Jacob and Israel and find out.
Associate, The Platinum Group