Three months before my daughter was born I made a statement at a party that I soon wished I could take back. In front of twenty-five friends (most of whom had reared children) I calmly remarked, “Having this baby will not change my life.” Momentary silence was followed by an eruption of deep belly laughter. A few people even began rolling on the floor. The smirks and giggles and hounding went on for what seemed an eternity. I wanted to crawl under the sofa.
Three months later I discovered the reasons for the laughter. This wonderful and beautiful child, whom I had had a part in conceiving, cried, experienced fits of rage and lacked proper etiquette. Because of her entrance into my world, watching a ballgame or my favorite television show uninterrupted became an impossibility. Discretionary money for golf games and dates with my wife almost disappeared. Going to the mall on a moment’s notice? Out of the question.
I had to eat my words, again and again. Having a baby does change one’s life.
The reality is, being alive changes one’s life. Change is the only constant in this world. And many of us need it.
One such man was Jacob. He was born a twin, the second out of the womb. Upon entering this world, Jacob was clutching the heel of his brother Esau. From that moment on, he was forever gripping what was rightfully his brother’s. He eventually cheated Esau out of his birthright and then his blessing.
If Jacob were alive today, many corporations would be delighted to employ him. A born competitor, he was determined to win. No matter the cost or the deception. He knew how to ascend the ladder of success. He was in control. No one could stop him from being on the top.
But the main event of Jacob’s life changed all of that. It was a wrestling match. It was not Greco-Roman, or Olympic Free Style, or Sumo, or WWF. This tug-of-war was a wrestling match with God.
The story of Jacob surprises us with many twists. But the one that stands out is that our most significant fights are often with God, not the devil. God is the divine intruder in our lives. He sometimes invades our lives not to bring comfort but to wage war. As strange as it may sound, there are times when we fight with God. Please understand that I’m not implying that we don’t have fights with the devil or that spiritual warfare does not occur. The temptation is real. But often it is easier to say no to the devil than it is to say yes to God.
Alone at night, Jacob wrestled with God. And of all the fights that Jacob had experienced in his life, of scheming and climbing and success, his most challenging fight was with the Almighty.
Our Greatest Fight
And so, it will be with us. The most terrible bout you and I will face is not saying no to a profitable career but saying yes to a divine prompting. It is not saying no to happiness but saying yes to holiness. It is not saying no to temptation but saying yes to righteousness. Please understand that God’s desire is not that we be miserable and unhappy; he does want to give us the desires of our hearts. But saying yes to God’s leadership can be the most challenging battle we will face.
A Winning Walk
I can picture Jacob shuffling toward Esau the morning after the wrestling match. His clothes were torn and dirty; his hair is messed up; he is walking with a limp.
“What happened to you?” Esau asks.
“I’ve been blessed,” Jacob says. (Not the exact picture of a victorious Christian that most often comes to our mind, but a fitting portrait of a man who has allowed God to shape and fashion his life.)
“But you are limping.”
“Yes. Isn’t it great?”
Jacob was a marked man. His limp was not just a sign for him; others would notice the way he walked. They probably concluded that he was a veteran of some battle. And he was.
It was not a loser’s limp. It was the limp of a spiritually mature man who had come face to face with God and been changed.
Some people would have walked away from that experience with only a limp and never have changed. They would have named the place “this is where I got hurt,” “place of misfortune.” Jacob, instead, named this piece of real estate, “the place I met God face to face.”
What do we call the places where we have wrestled with God? God wants us to see those areas in a new light and put a marker at that point as the place we met God and were changed forever.
We often obsess on the life we want as obtaining certain possessions or higher status. But the life we want is much loftier than that. It hinges on undeniable traits, disciplines, and characteristics that define the soul and heart of a person. I write about this life in 21 Days to the Life You’ve Always Imagined. The book contains twenty-one daily readings to help you focus on what matters most for a life that matters. The daily assignments that follow each chapter will help you implement what is lacking in your life to discover and enjoy the life you’ve always imagined. Click here to claim your copy.