The most important message I picked up from today’s readings overall is meaningful change for the better requires a sacrifice.
My primary take-away from each of the passages was this:
- Genesis 31-32 – Meaningful, intensive encounters with God can leave us physically or psychologically wounded, because change for the better requires a sacrifice.
- Matthew 16 – Even when we have repeatedly experienced the grace, mercy, and provision of God, it is easy to forget and fall back into worrying. Make an effort to remember.
- Psalms 16 – I am under God’s protection when I stay close to him; and when I’m close I can hear his voice and receive his instruction.
- Proverbs 16 – If I am walking the path God has set for me and living in his wisdom, I will always know which way to go. When I am unsure, if I ask for guidance I will receive it.
There are a lot of things I could write about Jacob wrestling with the angel, but the only one that is important is this: one cannot have an up close and personal encounter with God and be unchanged afterward. If it didn’t change you for the better, and if it didn’t cost you something, it wasn’t God.
Every major endeavor of my life has provided me with unintended consequences and lessons I had no idea I would be learning. When you takes big risks and set lofty goals you are likely to run into trouble you couldn’t conceive of until after you’ve been there and back. There’s a reason that most people settle for average, comfortable, normal, and easy. It might be exciting to dream of big adventures, but the truth is that big adventures can be dangerous.
Walking with God is a big adventure. Sometimes our reach exceeds our grasp. We may say we want to know God better, but how many of us really know what that means beyond the words we are saying? I didn’t, and I’ve had my hip put out of joint (so to speak) just like Jacob did as a result.
There’s a wonderful scene in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe where the Pevensey children are having dinner with the Beavers. Mr. Beaver is going on and on about Aslan and how wonderful he is while the children, in response, feel all warm and fuzzy inside at the mention of Aslan’s name. At one point one of the children (Susan or Lucy) asks, “Is he quite safe?” to which Mr. Beaver replies, “Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good.”
God is not safe. But he’s good. You might dislocate your hip, your life, or your preconceived notions if you spend a lot of time in his presence and stick close enough to him. But you’ll have had an encounter with the living God and you’ll be changed in ways you couldn’t have previously imagined. Whatever injury he leaves you with will serve as an Ebenezer to that encounter and the lessons you learned from it.
That’s what I got out of it. What did you get out of the readings today?
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