Script – Jacob 32:24 So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak
Reflection – Yesterday we touched upon but did not focus attention on another of the prayer practices that allow God to shape our hearts for obedience. That practice was letting go of our own agenda. You will recall that we did touch upon the fact that as Elijah fleed to God, the first thing to be addressed was Elijah's own desire to die. He went into prayerful discernment with his own agenda. But his agenda was in the way of God's will for him and call for him. So that agenda had to be set aside. Part of discernment is the practice of becoming aware of our own spiritual agendas and assumptions. Then the practice is letting go of them so that we can hear God's call to us, which may be very unlike our own.
The whole story of Jacob can be read as a reflection on this very thing. You will recall that Jacob is the 'younger' brother of his twin Esau. Esau, who is bor first would be the privileged brother, the recipient of his father's blessing and a chief portion of the inheritance of his father's wealth. But God has revealed to their mother that Jacob, the second son, will be the privileged and blessed one. The problem is that she and Jacob both seem to interpret this promise of blessing as a privilege that must be grasped by their own efforts, which little regard to how their actions affect others. They seem to forget that the blessing of God is both privilege and responsibility, a gift, but a gift that is stewarded so that it can be shared with others. It is a trust, not a possession. Much of the Jacob story illustrates his journey from grasping, owning, and controlling his privilege to accepting, stewarding and sharing the blessing.
This is what I mean by letting go of our agenda through careful and steadfast discernment. We are constantly bombarded by information and opinion which shapes the way we see the world and process all that we see and experience. But for every perspectice there is an equal and opposite perspective. It can difficult, early impossible to come to a conclusion. Throughout our lives we take on these world views to make sense of our self and the world we live in. The story of Jacob reminds us that letting go of our preconcieved notions can be difficult and even painful. This applies to matters of faith as well. Think of all the times not only religious leaders, but also the disciples and especially Peter struggled to interpret and apply the things Jesus said and did. So we take time and space, so that the word of God can shape and transform our ways of thinking and acting. This will sometimes mean we are challenged and we will need to let go of the way we are in order to move on to become the person God is calling us to be.
Quote - Proverbs 2:3,5 indeed, if you call out for insight
and cry aloud for understanding,then you will understand the fear of the Lord
and find the knowledge of God.
Prayer – Help us, Lord of resurrection and transformation, to trust you enough to release ourselves to dying and rising with Christ. Make us bold enough to offer those dearly held beliefs and assumptions that hold us back, even though they are comfortable and stable. Help us trust you enough to believe in the future self you are revealing to us and shaping us to be.