We are all faced with making decisions everyday. In general, we can navigate the smaller decisions like clothing options, food choices, time usage, where we focus our attention, etc. But sometimes we can struggle with making bigger decisions. For example, making a decision about college, taking a job, marriage, buying a house and others can be really stressful.
I recently did a sermon about making decisions & this link might be helpful if you’d like to see the whole thing (the message starts around 1:03), including the wonderful joke at the beginning ,)
And here are some helpful hints from Jacob that could be useful to you when making decisions:
recognize that God stays with you, whatever you decide because God is omni-present
instead of waiting for a lightning bolt of revelation it can be more helpful to move in a direction and invite God to adjust the direction and tweak the pacing
appreciate that God can show up in a dark season and bring some necessary and life-infusing encouragement
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Jacob wrestled with an angel or some people think he wrestled with God in Genesis 32. I’m always riveted by these verses & how he spent the night in this divine wrestling match. When it was all done, there were some interesting outcomes:
*Jacob walked away with a limp from his hip being dislocated; don’t expect to go into a divine wrestling match without being changed
*Jacob (deceiver) was renamed to Israel, one who wrestles with God; sounds to me like an upgrade in identity
*solo gig: Jacob did this wrestling thing by himself at night – the last time we read about Jacob by himself at night is when he had the divine dream before meeting Laban in Genesis 28; solitude with God can yield some really awesome outcomes!
I recently read in Genesis how Jacob did some creative things with sticks being stripped & spotted around the goats, sheep & livestock for which he was responsible. Jacob put these decorated sticks in the feeding troughs for the animals that were particularly robust but removed the sticks when the sickly animals came to feed. The result was that he acquired boatloads of speckled, spotted & striped livestock who were really sturdy 🙂
While, we now have scientific evidence about genetics with dominant & recessive traits passed along family lines, I still think it’s important to consider our focus.
I find that the longer I focus on something, the more absorbed I become in that focus. The more I’m absorbed, the more influenced I become & eventually, my behaviors & attitudes get shaped by that focus.
I recently read about how Jacob tricked his dad & brother to get Esau’s birthright & blessing – definitely shifty for sure. Whenever I read how Jacob’s mom put him up to being deceptive with his dad about getting his dad’s blessing, it makes me twitch because of the smoke & mirrors manipulation scheming. I find it positively revolting that Jacob & his mom would be so deceptive with their family, conniving, tricking & undermining trust. It’s repulsive to me because their actions totally sabotaged any trust & ultimately intimacy / connection they may have had with their family – maybe this trust never existed in the first place.
Nevertheless, for me an important take away is that when people are shifty & deceptive, there’s no real or grounded connection with them. Ultimately, it’s all just smoke & mirrors.
I’ve never been one to watch wrestling – even in my teenage tv watching years i couldn’t get into it. Be that as it may, one of my fav Bible stories is with Jacob & him wrestling with God in Gen 32:22-31. I totally love this story because its very confrontational & has so many good life lessons. Here are a few things that stand out to me:
Jacob wrestled alone: no one helped him, came to his rescue or even cheered for him. This wrestling match was between God & Jacob. There will be times when God will (or has) invite(d) you to wrestle through a problem with Him, by yourself. Don’t try to get other people to join your cause – wrestling is a one-on-one sport.
Jacob wrestled in the dark: he couldn’t see well, possibly lost his bearings from time to time & couldn’t really tell what was going on around him. Sometimes when we wrestle w God, we can’t really see what’s going on – uncertain future, obscure present, unclear direction, etc.
Jacob left this experience w a limp. Whenever you wrestle w God, expect to be changed. Infinite will always overcome finite.
Jacob didn’t let go, even when his hip was wrenched. There are times when we want to quit on God, walk away, drop out of church, unplug & disconnect from Him – especially when we’re in a wrestling season w God. But these are the exact times when we need to hold onto Him the most.
There are lots of thoughts & insights about Jacob’s wrestling match w God – care to share any of your insights? 🙂
I’m all about shortcuts – if i can figure out a way to do something faster & easier, i’m a happy camper! sometimes i even find myself taking silly risks just to see if a shortcut can work. Invariably, my shortcuts don’t usually work & you think i’d have learned that lesson by now. Maybe i’m a slow learner. Maybe i’m a little bit like Esau who traded his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of lentils, just because he was hungry. He exchanged an established position of blessing, prosperity, security & leadership for some food to eat & only to be hungry again in a few hours.
Honestly, i think our society is alot like Esau at present. We try to take lots of shortcuts, make quickie fix-its, take a panacea pill, do a fast fix to “make life better.” The truth is, life occurs over the space of about 70-75 years & if we’re kingdom minded, we must look at our lives in a generational mindset w continuity & the purpose of growing the next generation to be stronger in God than we ever will be. There are no shortcuts to integrity, to lasting fulfillment, intimacy w God, stepping into eternity on sure footing and more.
Let’s not get seduced by a bowl of lentils, a temporary pleasure & miss the long-term blessing.