This story of Jacob is an encouragement. In the first place, Jacob was an out-and-out rogue (see Genesis 27:1–41, the background to our study passage, and Genesis 30:25 – 31:2). If God was on his side, he is on your side too – whoever you are and whatever you’ve done!
Then, secondly, Jacob came away from his encounter with God limping. This is something to remember if ever you feel that you are not as shiny a Christian as you might be, that following Jesus seems difficult, and that your encounters with the people of God can be a little bruising at times. Jacob was blessed by God, but he couldn’t get the blessing without the collateral damage. When he found himself between a rock and a hard place Jacob turned to God (he maybe didn’t have too many other friends), and he met God face to face and that changed everything. And God kept his promises – but so did Jacob keep his limp. Maybe some of our personal vulnerabilities and the scars life has left us with are the medals we wear from our encounters with the living God.
Can you think of decisions or events in your faith journey that have been both very costly and very rewarding?
If you could choose for yourself a new name, representing that path you have travelled with God, what would it be? And if you could give a name to the place you live now, describing what it has meant for you spiritually, what would that name be?
Can you think of moments in your life that changed everything, dividing your life into two parts – before that happened and afterwards?
How strange and wonderful it is that you, Lord God, who made the heavens and the earth and set all the stars in place, should come close to us and engage with us in the course of our everyday lives. We join with the words of the old hymn in saying, “When on others you are calling, do not pass me by!” Meet with us, God of all our lives, and in our encounter transform and renew us, for we ask it in Jesus’ holy name; Amen.