Wrestling With God

Good morning. Today is Sunday, July 7, 2013.

Today is Chocolate Day. I know a lot of people who are going to be very happy about that.

Yesterday’s work time was pretty laid back and smooth. The warehouse people rearranged and cleaned up while the other two office employees and I basically spent the whole morning doing transfers in our system. We finished up a little after noon, so it wasn’t bad. The big audit begins tomorrow.

The rest of the day went pretty well. After I got home, we went out for lunch (Fogata’s of course), and then Christi and I went to the grocery store. After that I practiced for a few minutes, getting ready for this morning’s worship celebration, then Christi was doing some stuff for a thing she has this Friday, so I just piddled around for a while. Basically did nothing productive. It was nice. We watched a couple episodes of Warehouse 13 (Amy Acker and Jeri Ryan showed up in one of them!), had a little dinner, then we went swimming for the rest of the night. It was a good day.

(From Great Stories from History for Every Day)

On this date in 1937, the event that would eventually be seen as the beginning of the Second World War occurred. In a place called Lukouchaio, “where the railway line from Tientsin joins the Peking-Hankow line” (we’re talking China here, in case you hadn’t figure that out), a brigade of “the Japanese Kwantung Army” was conducting exercises this night. The area had been ceded to Japan for “commercial exploitation.” Suddenly a shot rang out (not sure if it was a dark and stormy night). The Japanese discovered the “dead body of one of their comrades lying near the ancient Marco Polo Bridge.” It is not known who killed the soldier, but this eventually became known as “the China Incident,” and the Japanese made it a casus belli, which basically means justification for war. They presented an ultimatum to China: hand over the northern provinces of Hopei and Chahar, or Japan would act. Chiang Kai-shek, after initial silence, simply responded that no more Chinese territory would be surrendered. A few days later, Japan began invading China as ten thousand troops “crossed over the Great Wall and advanced into Hopei province.” Initially, this was known as the Second Sino-Japanese War, “but in a few years the world would come to see it as the first act of the Second World War.”

Today’s birthday is Robert Heinlein, born on this date in 1907. Heinlein was a Science Fiction author, considered one of the “Big Three” of SF writers, the other two being Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke. Heinlein’s most famous and probably most popular work is Stranger In A Strange Land, written in 1961. He also authored Starship Troopers, which had a movie made which barely resembled the book. But that’s the way most of them go, isn’t it? Heinlein was the first to be named Science Fiction Grand Master in either 1974 or 1975, depending on which list you look at. He died in 1988.

Honorable mentions go to Ringer Starr, 73, Claire Holt, 25, Michelle Kwan, 33, Satchel Paige, 1906-1982, Doc Severinsen, 86, and Jorja Fox, 45.


Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, you heavenly hosts;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock. You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth. Psalm 80:1
May all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you! May those who love your salvation say evermore, “God is great!” Psalm 70:4
My heart is steadfast, O God! I will sing and make melody with all my being! Psalm 108:1

Father, I pray that you teach me to sing and make melody each day of my life. Reveal yourself to me in your Word this morning.

Today’s reading in A Year With God is called “Wrestling with God.” The scripture reading is Genesis 32:22-30.

The same night he arose and took his two wives, his two female servants, and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. He took them and sent them across the stream, and everything else that he had. And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. 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.” Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him. So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.”

Jacob intentionally created space to be alone, and God joined him there. We don’t know anything more about this late night wrestling match than what we have in this brief passage of scripture. Jacob “prevails” (God let him win, of course), but walks away with a distinct limp and a new name. The name “Israel,” means either “strives with God” or “triumphant with God.” There is a remarkable intimacy that accompanies the mystery of this event. And we also note that the “wrestling stranger refuses to be named.” Sometimes God comes so close to us, and we can’t exactly see “who or what has gotten hold of us. However, after such an encounter we go forward blessed – wounded perhaps, but always changed.”

The word “alone” does not have to strike fear into our hearts. Do you fear being alone? If so, why? Perhaps we all need to have a chat with the Lord about our fears of intimacy and being alone.

Father, I thank you that we can wrestle with you and come away changed. I thank you that you will come to us and have these kinds of encounters with us. I pray that I will not fear being alone; that I will not fear intimacy with you. I pray that you will take my alone times and mold them, shape them, into encounters that will change me each time. Let these times of solitude with you be times of true devotion and intimacy, not just times to piddle around aimlessly. Give me direction in my life as you direct me through these times of reading and meditation. Shape my life, Lord; mold my life. Make me into what you desire me to be.

I pray for this morning’s worship time. Fill us with your Spirit as we play our instruments and use our voices to praise you. Fill the worship place with your presence this morning, your divine presence, that we may see you and know you. Teach us through our pastor as he brings a message to us. May his words be your words.

“Wrestling with God” is always an event that leaves a permanent mark on the believer. It changes lives. Forever.

Grace and peace, friends.