The Pursuit of God And The Identity That Follows
Coffee With God: 3/14/2023 | Genesis 32:26-28
“Then he said, ‘Let me go, for the day has broken.’ But Jacob said, ‘I will not let you go unless you bless me.’ And he said to him, ‘What is your name?’ And he said, ‘Jacob.’ Then he said, ‘Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.’”
The name Jacob means “deceiver,” and for many years, the man Jacob son of Isaac, son of Abraham, wore his name befittingly. He was a man whose life was spent deceiving others. Not even family ties could protect one from Jacob’s scheming (ask his brother, Esau, or his father-in-law, Laban, who also was quite deceptive).
All that changed when Jacob encountered God. At least partially from fear, Jacob cried out to the Lord in the place where he had first appeared to him 20 years before. Once Jacob realized that scheming, plotting, and deception would not save him from his situation, he turned to the God who had been patiently beckoning him for so long.
Herein lies the lesson; not that Jacob turned to God, but that he turned with his whole heart. Jacob wrestled with God all night long and, in the morning, refused to end the encounter until the divine messenger had blessed him. “‘Let me go, for the day has broken,’ he said. ‘I will not let you go unless you bless me’” (v.26).
The same tenacious, resolute determination that Jacob had channeled for so many years into deceptive tactics was now directed toward pursuing God and receiving his blessing. As a result, God didn’t merely bless Jacob; he bestowed upon him a whole new identity in the form of a name. A name that was representative of Jacob’s God-ward pursuit.
May we all pursue God with the passion of Jacob. And may we be known by God, our families, and the world around us not for our deceptive practices or past sins, but for our pursuit of all things holy and divine.