I've been thinking a lot about one particular video session in the Patriarchs study; Session Six, titled For the Love of Jacob. This session was about Jacob's face-to-face encounter with God as he waited to face his brother, Esau, the next day. Beth says "when we dread facing something or someone, what we need most is to honestly face God."
Beth points out that included in Jacob's face-to-face encounter were:
- An honest appraisal-we are who we really are when we are alone!
- An honest fight-God taught Jacob how to face up and fight honestly...remember Jacob's tendency toward deceit and manipulation? God's goal in inviting or allowing us to fight/wrestle Him is to make us overcomers. "Even when God appears to be against us, He is for us."
- An honest blessing-Jacob had deceived his earthly father to receive his earthly blessing; now he received an honest blessing from his heavenly father.
- An honest name-the name "Jacob" meant 'deceiver' and 'cheater', but God replaced that name with "Israel". "When we struggle through the crisis with God all the way to the blessing, we are gloriously redefined." Rev. 2:17 "...To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it."
There were so many things in this video that jumped out at me and of course, Beth puts them all together so much better than I do...
- How much do I resist being alone? And how do I feel when I'm alone?
- Psalm 3:3 "But you are a shield around me, Oh Lord; you bestow glory on me and lift up my head." When I am before my Lord, hanging my head in shame, he lifts up my head!
- Beth mentioned several strongholds that she struggles with: fear, shame, insecurity...I relate to that...
- What kind of a fighter am I? Did I grow up with "dirty" fighting in my family? Is it a pattern that needs to be broken?
- Having a stronghold of insecurity says "I've got to win this!" So it's "hurt-them-as-bad-as-we-can-as-soon-as-we-can" in order to win. That's fighting dirty.
- The true definition of a "win" is that at the end of the fight I am not all muddy from fighting dirty down on the ground.
- God wants to bless me. Sometimes He has to hurt me in order to get me to let Him bless me.
- "Sometimes in the dark of our night seasons, we don't know with whom we're struggling until the light begins to dawn."
I think I related so much to this teaching because on that particular day that we watched this video, I had had a time of wrestling with God. First alone, in the wee hours of the morning and then again as I talked through my struggle with a friend. I almost didn't even go to the study, but God be praised, I did.
An honest apraisal is that I am struggling with fear, an inability to trust God to take care of me no matter what decisions are made for my future. As Miguel and I sit down to discuss ministry plans and options, I can sometimes hardly even talk or pray about it, paralyzed with the fear of the unknown future. And that fear is not from God...God has not given me the spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind. II Tim. 1:7 Yes, maybe my fear is understandable given the circumstances, but not justified...and certainly not glorifying to God.
But I think the foundations of that stronghold of fear in my life crumbled quite a bit that day as I wrestled with God...coming face-to-face with Him in the quiet of the early morning...hearing His truth spoken to me through a friend. I still struggle with it, but it's not as overwhelming as it was before. There are even times of strong, unwavering faith in God that weren't there before...but when those doubts begin creeping back, I remind myself that the truth of the matter is that whatever the future holds for me, for our family, I can be confident that God will be there, He will give me grace...His desire is that I overcome and be "gloriously redefined" as I abandon myself to Him. And He WILL take care of me every step of the way.