Reading through the Bible together

Friday, May 18, 2012

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When God steps into human experience it is rarely what we expect.  Beginning with Adam and Eve encountering God after their sin, continuing to Cain’s conversation with God, Moses at the burning bush, Jeremiah’s call to ministry, or the God-encounters of Jonah, Hosea, or Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist- God’s appearances generally surprise or even dismay the people who meet God in their daily lives.  Of course the ultimate example is the birth and life of Jesus.  When God stepped into human experience as a poor infant peasant, few even noticed.  As He grew to manhood, He was unrecognized, distained, and opposed by most of the people who had good reason to welcome Him far differently.  When God steps into our lives it is rarely what we expect.


Jacob had met God at Bethel 20 years earlier in his dream of the ladder.  He spent the next 20 years wrestling with Laban and the complications of very unhappy wives.  Now he faced certain retaliation from his enraged brother, Esau.  If ever there was a time for God to show up with comfort and reassurance, now would seem to be the time.  Who would have ever guessed that God would show up in Jacob’s life at this moment as a wrestling partner?  Probably not Jacob.  In fact, during most of the night-long wrestling match Jacob likely had no idea he wrestled with God.  It wasn’t until near daybreak, when Jacob was nearly spent and fully ready to throw himself on the mercy of God, that he discovered he had been wrestling (that night and his entire life) not against Esau, nor Laban, nor some other human opponent, but against God himself.  The wrestlings of his entire life came into focus and ended that morning.  He was ready for a new name.


How about you?  How has God showed up in your life?  How well have you recognized Him?  How well have you understood what you have really been wrestling against during your life or during this most recent difficult time?


Douglas Tilstra
Director of Outdoor Leadership and Education, Southern Adventist University