This seems to continue with the theme from the last post, but this keeps popping up in my life as a lesson I REALLY need to learn.
Last week I was teaching my bible study and I looked at the days lesson and cringed a bit. The reading was Jacob wrestling with God.
I've never really been able to "get" what is really being said. What it really means. I mean, we don't really live in a society where you go around wrestling with strangers all night long and then demanding their blessings. We just kinda ignore each other and want to be left alone.
Actually, for a while now, I've really disliked Jacob. He's a big of a jerk in my opinion. He takes advantage of his brother and takes away the birthright, (for the insane price of a bowl of soup! Highway robbery!) Then he conspires with his mother and takes away the blessing as well. Of course his brother is really mad by now, so Jacob has to run away.
On the way, he NEVER calls God his own God. He always says "The God of my father" etc. And then when God comes to him and says that He will bless Jacob and travel with him, Jacob says "Ok, if you bring me back safely, THEN I will call you my God and I will give you 10% of all I have." Arrogant much?
Then he meets his uncle, gets along for a little while, just to find out his mother and himself are not the only liars in the family, his uncle does a pretty good job of it himself. And in the end he has to run away from his uncle as well.
Yeah, I just don't like Jacob. And I guess what always really bothered me was that God blessed him! I mean God chose this guy. I mean granted, Esau wasn't a better choice, but still, Jacob is a jerk! He doesn't follow the rules.
So this whole wrestling with God bit, and then getting a blessing always confused me. Why, does such a disrespectful guy get the blessing?
And finally it dawned on me. It's in the new name God gave him. When God gives new names, you should pay attention, they mean something. Jacob means "he who grasps the heel" which was an old fashioned way of saying "deceiver" or "Liar." Yeah, that's an unfortunate name, but rather fitting right? But now God says, "you are Israel." Israel means "he who struggles."
Now, I'm a "good" girl. I follow the rules (mostly) and I get really annoyed when others don't follow the rules. (I get bad cases of train rage sometimes.) I like it when things are simple and easy to understand. Follow the rules and everything will be ok. Respect your elders. Don't talk back.
But this isn't was Jacob was doing! In fact, this is closer to what Esau was doing. Esau, who had the legal birthright, didn't bother to fight for it. He didn't bother to struggle for what was his by right. He thought if he just followed the rules he would get it naturally. He didn't want it enough to struggle. All he wanted was to satisfy his immediate hunger.
And he lost.
Jacob, while not playing nice, still wanted it. He wanted the birthright, he wanted the blessing, and he was willing to lie and cheat to get it.
Now I know God does not like lying and cheating, but it seems He does like passion.
God forgave Jacob for the wrong ways he took, and gave him the blessing.
Now, I understand that things are more complicated than that. I mean, you have to think ahead in terms of genetics, the goal being the birth of Jesus, future history and all that stuff when God blesses Jacob.
But, God still praises Jacob for his struggling.
Struggle is born of passion.
Passion honors God.
God hates lukewarm hearts.
God loves passionate people. (remember Peter? James and John, aka the Sons of Thunder? David? Jonah?)
So I have to put away my distain of Jacob and look again. Look and see how he fought and fought hard for what he thought was valuable, and he considered the blessing and favor of God to be valuable.
Sometimes I think of what I would like in a husband. I want a man who loved me enough to not give up. Who valued me enough to keep trying to win my heart. Even if I rejected him once or twice, if he valued me enough to keep struggling, I would feel so valued and treasured. (of course that can't be the ONLY good trait he has, but it should be one. -- there is a fine line between being devoted and being a stalker.)
And when I think of that, I realize that that's what God wants too. He wants us to pursue him with passion and devotion. He wants us to struggle and to treasure Him. He wants to be our treasure.
Then I realize that I don't do that at all. I follow the rules. I take the easy way. I barter away my birthright for some soup that is gone as soon as I eat it.
And I get angry when others don't do the same. I get angry when others receive the birthright and live in it, because they didn't follow the rules.
But I didn't struggle either.
Anyway. This is my lesson for now. Struggle.
Struggle to struggle.
I've had a long history of depression. I had childhood depression, and a two year long case of major clinical depression. I've tried drugs (prescription drugs, not illegal ones!), and some therapy, but nothing seemed to work and I just always kinda rode it out, until things got better.
I learned how to give up. With my depression. When I fought with my little brother. Scholarships at school. Friendships. Love. I never struggled long with any of these.
Recently, I've noticed the signs of depression coming back. But this time I've decided to not take medication yet. I've decided I should struggle. Fight it.
And even if I don't overcome it, there is value in the fight.
Next week I have a break from work, so I'm going to take three days of that break and go on a little trip for the first time. I have never actually traveled on my own anywhere (always with a group or going to meet someone.) But this is a trip with a purpose. I want to be refreshed by nature (going to take lots of pictures of the Autumn leaves near Mt. Fuji) and I want to struggle with God.
I want to wrestle with Him until He gives me a new name.
I make big statements, but they are often hard to follow through. So I'm learning little by little how to struggle. This is hard when I'm tired and everything is screaming to just give up, but I am going to do my best. My goal is struggling.
And I won't give up until I have been blessed. (that's kinda a scary idea.)