Tag Archives: Psalm 23

Wrestling

This is the script of my Going Deeper With God daily devotions for today. You can watch the video here if you prefer.

The Readings are Psalm 23 and Genesis 32:22-32

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. 32 Even today the descendants of Israel do not eat the muscle which is on the hip joint, because it was on this muscle that Jacob was hit.

When I was a girl, our Saturday tea times were spent watching tv, eating bread and dripping and watching the wrestling on ITV. Think Giant Haystacks and Mick McManus.  That was how life was, certainly in our corner of the world in the 1970s – we knew how to live!!

In those wrestling matches there was a lot of play acting, I suspect a lot of throwing the matches and it was more about the entertainment.

Today’s readings are of real struggles and a real wrestling with God.  Particularly as we hear Jacob’s story.  We’ve been following that story through the readings and now we come to the point of his wrestling with God.

This is Jacob the trickster.  He has misled and taken advantage of his brother, his father and his uncle.  Perhaps he is feeling he is about to get his comeuppance…

Jacob has taken his wives, servants, children and all his worldly possessions across the river.  But for now he is alone – Just him and God – and a struggle ensues.

Jacob comes out of the encounter limping.  He has struggled with God and he bears the marks of his encounter.

Are we up for wrestling with God?  Or would we rather have everything simple and straightforward – no struggle required?  I think faith worth having is a faith we’ve struggled with.  Until we have wrestled with what it’s all about and what it means to us, it remains an inherited faith, not one that will stand up under pressure.  It is very easy to trot out trite platitudes, but until we have wrestled we do not know if they stand up or not.

It’s unlikely that we will come away from a true struggle with God unmarked.  It is in the struggles that we are changed, that we are stretched, in the facing up to the realities of our lives. There is nothing wrong with wrestling with God, having an honest conversation, admitting our fears, where we are going…

Don’t be afraid of the struggle, for in that we will be formed.  Jacob came away not just with a dislocated hip, but also with a new name.  It was at that point he became Israel – and the rest, as they say, is history.  But without his willingness to wrestle with God – who knows.

Am I willing to struggle with God?  To wrestle over who is in charge?  How God will bless me?  What I need to let go of?  What I ought to be doing?  To let God touch me, challenge me, humble me and equip me?  Will I receive his blessing, his new name, his future?

As I reflect on bible passages, I like to put myself in the story and hear the voice of the characters.  So here is my voice in this.

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.


I come to you,
knowing that answers are not always easy,
faith is not always easily come by,
that sometimes I need to wrestle
– with my conscience,
my selfishness,
my manipulative ways,
my wants
and even with you.

In the struggle Lord,
re-form me,
renew me,
rename me,
re-purpose me
and reassure me.

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.

My hymn suggestion for today is O Love That Will Not Let Me Go,  such a beautiful hymn that ties together both Psalm 23 and Jacob’s struggles. 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:

A Model of Care

If, in response to yesterdays reading, we want a model of care – both of ourselves and others.  We are given a perfect example in this best known of Psalms.

God’s way to care is to stay with us wherever we go.

To allow us to rest, perhaps encourage us to – a worn out sheep will not complete the journey.  Do I take time to rest in peace and quiet?  To take time and rest with God? Or am I so busy rushing around, even for him, that I never time time to rest and allow him to restore my soul?

Lord, may I rest in you, let you feed me, heal me, restore me and equip me for the journey.

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God will lead me in the right paths.  However wrong or scary they feel to me, however much I doubt his wisdom, however much I would prefer life to be going in a different direction; somehow, can I hold tight to his hand and walk with him?  Can I trust him and allow him to lead me?  Or will I insist that I know better, try and take him my way or run off to follow my own path?

Lord, may I be brave enough to walk with you, trust enough to follow you, allow you to lead me and follow your way.

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There are valleys, deep and dark.  They hurt, they terrify me, I’d really rather not go that way.

Lord, help me to remember, that however dark the way, you walk with me, Holding tightly to me, knowing my fear, sharing it, in it with me, never leaving me alone.

Lord, may I cling to the safety of you, and allow you to guide me through.

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Thank you Lord for the good times.  The times of blessing, of joy, abundance, when my cup overflows.

May I not forget you in those times, but rejoice with you and thank you.  Thank you that I am a guest at your feast

Thank you Lord, that your kindness and love are with me every day – good, bad or indifferent; that you walk with me every step of my journey, however good and pleasant or difficult and arduous.  Thank you that I can trust in you – always.  Thank you

The Lord’s My Shepherd

Psalm 23  (CEV)

(A psalm by David.)

The Good Shepherd

23 You, Lord, are my shepherd.
    I will never be in need.
    You let me rest in fields
    of green grass.
You lead me to streams
of peaceful water,
    and you refresh my life.

You are true to your name,
    and you lead me
    along the right paths.
I may walk through valleys
as dark as death,
    but I won’t be afraid.
You are with me,
    and your shepherd’s rod
    makes me feel safe.

You treat me to a feast,
    while my enemies watch.
You honor me as your guest,
    and you fill my cup
    until it overflows.
Your kindness and love
will always be with me
    each day of my life,
    and I will live forever
    in your house, Lord.

Following the Shepherd

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I don’t know the way.

I like to think I do,
that I can get myself there,
chart my own waters,
make my own decisions,
know what is best

but

I am easily distracted
by something that looks interesting,
tasty,
shiny.
I like to walk on the wild side,
laugh in the face of danger,
challenge good advice.

I won’t fall down there.
Who says that’s not good for me?
But I just want to taste.

But you,
you Lord,
you know what I need
and you will lead me there
if only I am not so stubborn.

You know the green, lush fields,
the safe spaces,
the resting place
for me.

You watch me like a hawk,
ready to catch,
to water,
to lovingly tend and rescue me
yourself,
whatever the cost.

You love me
and walk with me
every day of my life,
every step I take,
you are there,
whether I see you or not.

However difficult,
desperate,
painful
things are

You,
you are there.

You walk with me.

Companionable,
Caring,
loving,
tending
God.

May I learn to hear your voice
and follow it
all the days of my life.

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Psalm 23 (CEV)

(A psalm by David.)

The Good Shepherd

23 You, Lord, are my shepherd.
    I will never be in need.
    You let me rest in fields
    of green grass.
You lead me to streams
of peaceful water,
    and you refresh my life.

You are true to your name,
    and you lead me
    along the right paths.
I may walk through valleys
as dark as death,
    but I won’t be afraid.
You are with me,
    and your shepherd’s rod
    makes me feel safe.

You treat me to a feast,
    while my enemies watch.
You honor me as your guest,
    and you fill my cup
    until it overflows.
Your kindness and love
will always be with me
    each day of my life,
    and I will live forever
    in your house, Lord.

John 10:11-18 (CEV)

11 I am the good shepherd, and the good shepherd gives up his life for his sheep. 12 Hired workers are not like the shepherd. They don’t own the sheep, and when they see a wolf coming, they run off and leave the sheep. Then the wolf attacks and scatters the flock. 13 Hired workers run away because they don’t care about the sheep.

14 I am the good shepherd. I know my sheep, and they know me. 15 Just as the Father knows me, I know the Father, and I give up my life for my sheep.16 I have other sheep that are not in this sheep pen. I must bring them together too, when they hear my voice. Then there will be one flock of sheep and one shepherd.

17 The Father loves me, because I give up my life, so that I may receive it back again. 18 No one takes my life from me. I give it up willingly! I have the power to give it up and the power to receive it back again, just as my Father commanded me to do.