Wrestling With God

Rembrandt – Jacob Wrestling With the Angel

Jacob Wrestles at Peniel

22 That same night Jacob got up, took his two wives, his two concubines, and his eleven children, and crossed the Jabbok River. 23 After he had sent them across, he also sent across all that he owned, 24 but he stayed behind, alone.

Then a man came and wrestled with him until just before daybreak. 25 When the man saw that he was not winning the struggle, he hit Jacob on the hip, and it was thrown out of joint. 26 The man said, “Let me go; daylight is coming.”

“I won’t, unless you bless me,” Jacob answered.

27 “What is your name?” the man asked.

“Jacob,” he answered.

28 The man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob. You have struggled with God and with men, and you have won; so your name will be Israel.”

29 Jacob said, “Now tell me your name.”

But he answered, “Why do you want to know my name?” Then he blessed Jacob.

30 Jacob said, “I have seen God face-to-face, and I am still alive”; so he named the place Peniel. 31 The sun rose as Jacob was leaving Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip.

Genesis 32:22-31

Wrestling,
still grappling,
trying to gain the upper hand.

Searching,
seeking,
longing,
to be.

Still yearning
for that blessing,
not the stolen one,
but God’s blessing
on me
and my life.

And now you come,
I am marked,
forever,
by our struggle;
from now on
I am changed.

You call me by a new name,
a new purpose
a new me.

I have met God,
we have struggled,
I am renewed
and I am alive.

Struggling,
I wrestle with you Lord.

I search
and I seek,
I long for you to touch me,
to change me
to make me new,
in you.

Bless me Lord
I pray.
Bless each one of us.
Meet us in our struggle,
touch us,
renew us
and may we know we are alive in you.

This is such a beautiful hymn. It means so much to me of being able to trace God’s rainbow through the rain and the God whose love never lets us go, whatever the struggle. And this is a beautiful rendition of it:

For another take of mine on this passage, see Scarred for Life

What Would I Give For The Kingdom?

In Richard III, Shakespeare famously has him saying “A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse”, he is willing to give up everything he has to get a horse after losing his own. In this weeks gospel readings we see what people are willing to sacrifice for various treasures, but actually the question is, ‘What are you willing to give for the Kingdom?’.

The one thing I remember distinctly from my ‘O’ Levels is from the Scripture classes and that is

the kingdom of God is the rule of God in the hearts and lives of his people

Thank you to Mr Gilmore for that nugget that has stayed with me!

God’s kingdom is not a place, however wonderful that might seem. It is God living in us, breathing through us, working in us. This collection of parables or analogies show both what that can do and it’s value.

A mustard seed

Such a tiny thing,
a small beginning,
hard for the eye to see,
but what it can become
when planted
and nurtured.

Then it becomes strong
and tall,
a place where others
can find safety,
refuge
and rest.

Lord,
take my faith,
however small
and fragile it fells,
grow it strong
and robust
I pray
that others may find refuge
and strength
in it
and in your presence.

Yeast

Nothing
by itself.

Only working
when activated,
mixed with ingredients
that make it grow.

Only becoming something of use
when combined with others.

And then –
what a difference it makes.
For those other elements
become something so much more too.

Lord,
my faith
is nothing by itself.
It needs other ingredients,
other people,
the right things to feed it.

Then how it grows.

Lord, may I share,
allow others to feed me
as I feed them
that together we can grow,
in faith,
in love,
in knowledge of you.

That as we do
your kingdom
will grow
in and through us,

Treasure

Your Kingdom,
your presence,
is a treasure,
valuable beyond any way we can measure.

Once discovered,
it is worthy of all that I have,
demands my everything.

For I will gain far more
than anything I have
without you.

Lord,
I offer you my all,
everything I have,
all that I am,
everything I can be

because all of that
is only worth anything
with you

and with you
what I need becomes a different question.

By Wolfgang Sauber – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=62149784

A Great Pearl

I’ve been looking,
searching,
for the perfect thing.

There have been some false starts,
some things I have mistaken,
but now I have found,
the finest thing there is,
the thing that
really
completes my world.

Lord,
that is you.
Forgive me the false idols
I have chased after,
the things I thought were the answer.

But now I see
and know you.

You are what I need
and I surrender the worthless things
for The One
I really need.

By Gethmaperera – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=79652919

A net of fish

What a good catch,
the nets are full,
straining under the weight
of what we have.

Until,
we stop and look
carefully.

All we have here,
is not what we need,
what we thought we had.

Amongst the food,
there is worthless stuff,
the flotsam and jetsam of life
caught up with the good.

We need to sort it out,
to discard what is no good,
to be able to appreciate
the valuable.

Help me Lord,
to sort out what I need
and what I do not,
on this journey with you.

Help me to be clear
about what will help
and what will not.

I lay the net of my life before you
and invite you to sort through it
that I may be stronger
and useful
for you.

The kingdom of God is justice and peace
And joy in the Holy Spirit
Come, Lord and open in us the gates of your kingdom

Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52

The Parable of the Mustard Seed

31 Jesus told them another parable: “The Kingdom of heaven is like this. A man takes a mustard seed and sows it in his field. 32 It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it grows up, it is the biggest of all plants. It becomes a tree, so that birds come and make their nests in its branches.”

The Parable of the Yeast

33 Jesus told them still another parable: “The Kingdom of heaven is like this. A woman takes some yeast and mixes it with a bushel of flour until the whole batch of dough rises.”

The Parable of the Hidden Treasure

44 “The Kingdom of heaven is like this. A man happens to find a treasure hidden in a field. He covers it up again, and is so happy that he goes and sells everything he has, and then goes back and buys that field.

The Parable of the Pearl

45 “Also, the Kingdom of heaven is like this. A man is looking for fine pearls, 46 and when he finds one that is unusually fine, he goes and sells everything he has, and buys that pearl.

The Parable of the Net

47 “Also, the Kingdom of heaven is like this. Some fishermen throw their net out in the lake and catch all kinds of fish. 48 When the net is full, they pull it to shore and sit down to divide the fish: the good ones go into the buckets, the worthless ones are thrown away. 49 It will be like this at the end of the age: the angels will go out and gather up the evil people from among the good 50 and will throw them into the fiery furnace, where they will cry and gnash their teeth.

New Truths and Old

51 “Do you understand these things?” Jesus asked them.

“Yes,” they answered.

52 So he replied, “This means, then, that every teacher of the Law who becomes a disciple in the Kingdom of heaven is like a homeowner who takes new and old things out of his storage room.”

Finding God… When You Least Expect It

Genesis 28:10-19a

Jacob’s Dream at Bethel

10 Jacob left Beersheba and started toward Haran. 11 At sunset he came to a holy place  and camped there. He lay down to sleep, resting his head on a stone. 12 He dreamed that he saw a stairway reaching from earth to heaven, with angels going up and coming down on it. 13 And there was the Lord standing beside him.  “I am the Lord, the God of Abraham and Isaac,” he said. “I will give to you and to your descendants this land on which you are lying. 14 They will be as numerous as the specks of dust on the earth. They will extend their territory in all directions, and through you and your descendants I will bless all the nations.[c] 15 Remember, I will be with you and protect you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done all that I have promised you.”

16 Jacob woke up and said, “The Lord is here! He is in this place, and I didn’t know it!” 17 He was afraid and said, “What a terrifying place this is! It must be the house of God; it must be the gate that opens into heaven.”

18 Jacob got up early next morning, took the stone that was under his head, and set it up as a memorial. Then he poured olive oil on it to dedicate it to God. 19 He named the place Bethel. 

This place,
not a place of my choosing,
a part of a journey.

A place on the way
to find my future,
my inheritance,
a blessing,
not the one I stole.

Running
from the anger
and retribution
I deserve.

Here I rest my head,
enough for today.

And there is God,
standing beside me,
promising his blessing,
this place,
an abundant future
and his protection.

I thought this was just a place,
barren,
lonely,
just where I was

but now I discover
that God is here,
this is God’s place,
a holy place.

You will be my God
and I will worship you.

I place the foundations of my life here
in you.

This Cairn lives in our house. It has rocks, stones and other special things we have collected along the way, a monument to where we have been.

Bless me Lord,
Bless us.
In this place,
here.

Where maybe I didn’t expect to find you,
in this place of running
and resting,
in the wilderness,
the barren place
that turns out to be a holy place.

May this be a place of beginning again
of true inheritance,
of discovering you,
of worship,
of foundation.

Of you.

I offer it to you
and pray that we may dwell here together.