Jacob was a guy who was able to manipulate and control his life circumstances. True, there were consequences along the way, but by and large the guy got what he wanted. One rough spot in his life involved his broken relationship with Esau, his twin brother, whom he had cheated out of his inheritance. Unable to avoid an encounter with Esau years after Jacob had fled his hometown, Jacob turned to prayer.
“I’m not worthy of the least of all the deeds of steadfast love and all the faithfulness that you have shown to your servant…please deliver me from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau, for I fear him. I’m afraid that he might come and attack me.” (Genesis 32:10-11)
Notice that Jacob wasn’t particularly repentant; he did not mention all the things he had done to stir the ire of Esau; he was continuing to finagle his way to the safest place in the caravan in an attempt to shield himself. But he prayed.
Suddenly, a presence overcame Jacob, and a wrestling match of epic proportions continued unabated for hours. It’s a great story, but let me bottom line it for you. God had come to wrestle with Jacob and once Jacob realized this, he asked God for his blessing. God asks Jacob to claim his identity, which he does. But for the first time ever, his manipulations do not work. God gives him a new name. And leaves him with a permanent limp.
There’s a lot of pressure to have the “perfect” holiday season; Christians even argue over how to have the perfect Spiritually aware season. But God doesn’t carry the burden of those expectations around with him, demanding that we straighten up and fly right. It’s okay with God that we walk with a limp, that we have limitations AND he continues to give us opportunities, like Jacob, to realize that this is true. So. As you wrap those presents and stuff that Christmas goose, maybe take some time to admit your own limitations. Do you care more about your clean floors than choosing to have friends and family over? Hospitality is messy and lots of work! Do you care more about what you receive than what you give to others? Are you so concerned with appearances that you are willing to bust your budget for a couple hours of gluttonous giving? Willing to eat your way into a diabetic coma without regard for your health? Sometimes when we do not know that we know that we know that we have God’s blessing, we get all confused and start looking for it in all the wrong people and places. This holiday, what if we start with a commitment to remember that we ALL walk with a limp?