Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Grace Changes Our Pace and Methods

"He took them and sent them across the stream, and everything else that he had. And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob's hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. Then he said, 'Let me go, for the day has broken.' But Jacob said, 'I will not let you go unless you bless me.' And he said to him, 'What is your name?' And he said, 'Jacob.' Then he said, 'Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.' Then Jacob asked him, 'Please tell me your name.' But he said, 'Why is it that you ask my name?' And there he blessed him. So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, 'For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.' The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip." Genesis 32:23-31 ESV

This is such a rich account. Jacob and God. The Liar and the King. The man living out the consequences of his fallen schemes face-to-face and toe-to-toe with God. Grace prevailed... not morality... grace had victory and everyone left a winner. The liar left the field of battle with a new name, a blessing and a limp. Grace crippled Jacobs ability to function in natural strength.

"Then Esau said, 'Let us journey on our way, and I will go ahead of you (literally 'along with you'.) But Jacob said to him, 'My lord knows that the children are frail, and that the nursing flocks and herds are a care to me. If they are driven hard for one day, all the flocks will die. Let my lord pass on ahead of his servant, and I will lead on slowly, at the pace of the livestock that are ahead of me and at the pace of the children, until I come to my lord in Seir.' So Esau said, 'Let me leave with you some of the people who are with me.' But he said, 'What need is there? Let me find favor in the sight of my lord.' So Esau returned that day on his way to Seir." Genesis 33:12-16 ESV

Jacob loved Esau but would not mingle his provisions with him. He could not walk along with him. Jacobs strength had changed and now there was a reliance and appreciation for God. Not a far away God. Not just the God of his father. Jacob met the God who wrestles with liars. Jacob was wounded and blessed by grace personally. Grace wounded his self life and changed his brisk pace of self indulgence to a mindful slower pace of love and shepherding.

Esau wanted to love Jacob but with assistance mixed with control. Jacob lived in the blessing and that was enough for him when God's personal rouch was fresh in Jacobs mind..

"And Jacob came to Luz (that is, Bethel), which is in the land of Canaan, he and all the people who were with him, and there he built an altar and called the place El-bethel, because there God had revealed himself to him when he fled from his brother. ... God appeared to Jacob again, when he came from Paddan-aram, and blessed him. And God said to him, 'Your name is Jacob; no longer shall your name be called Jacob, but Israel shall be your name.' So he called his name Israel." Genesis 35:6-7, 9-10 ESV

God kept reminding Jacob that He had a new life and a new provision. The illumination of grace renews our consciousness to the new identity we have been given and recenters us again.

"Then God went up from him in the place where he had spoken with him. And Jacob set up a pillar in the place where he had spoken with him, a pillar of stone. He poured out a drink offering on it and poured oil on it. So Jacob called the name of the place where God had spoken with him Bethel." - Genesis 35:13-15 ESV

Grace is not just a victory in a moment. It has durability. God's character meets us in different place and times and when different weaknesses are being manifested and yet He speaks that same words of undeserved favor phrased in slightly different ways and our landscape becomes scattering with monuments to His love for us and unfailing commitment to us.

Once the liar has been crippled by the cross and what it means the person that remains does not need that again and again. The new person needs reminders of what the cross has accomplished so that monuments to grace along a new pathway can be built and a new life can be established on the Rock.

God help us today. Let our weakness make us mindful of the weak and frail but center our identity in You and not in weakness or in strength. Make us ministers that leave manipulation far behind us. Grace has dealt our old methods a deadly blow but given us a new road to walk that is full of glory. Thank You.

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