JACOB WAS LEFT ALONE
with Rev. Rachel
24 JACOB WAS LEFT ALONE Genesis 32
I am not on the run. I’m engaged in lesser foolishness. Though I say these things with Jacob in mind, it’s Jesus whose eyebrows raise and whose expression gives me pause. There is that story about the one who prayed, God I thank you I am not like…(Lk 18).
Still, I do not have two wives plus two maids plus eleven children. Nor will I cross the ford of the Jabbok (vv.22-23). Sending sixteen people across a stream with all of my belongings and in anticipation of a duel with my brother: Not yet, at least.
I have, however, found myself alone. And I’ve wrestled a time or two with what felt like my Lord. [If God, for you, is a white man in a whiter robe, then the rest of what I have to say may not be for you. Understandable.]
No mat required, this wrestling could happen most anywhere, I would think. Some have done it at their desk. God knows it’s been done in one’s sleep.
If you can see Jacob’s worn-out silhouette against the backdrop of a rising sun, you can see why I, for one, need supper—the Lord’s Supper. I’m between matches. I need to know all over again that even when it is God who seems behind (or at least complicit in) the striking, it is God who feeds me so that I might stay in the ring. If you can imagine this moment when Jacob asks for a name and the ring-mate replies, ‘Why?’ you might see the Table as a good reminder. There, I see that others have a socket out of joint (v.25). There, God lovingly addresses the Jacob in each of us: Must everything be taken so personally? Let this moment and all that has come before be what grows you into bread from which others can freely feed.
We’re told Jacob walks away with a blessing and that the mark of this blessing is a limp, which has me thinking about how gifts from God may not feel like gifts. That’s when it hits me—the gracious possibility—not a divine arm or leg. Who did what here and why this happened aside, Jacob had to feel, come daybreak. And maybe he had felt too little for too few on too shallow of a level for too long.
“Compassion is the preeminent mark of discipleship.” From he who said that, I glean one final thought. We cannot follow if we cannot feel. If God has to disorient us from time to time to get the blood of compassion moving, let it be us who say, “so be it!”