Ok, it’s time for a confession. While I might be looked down upon for what I am about to confess, I will do so honorably and proudly and with no shame. I LOVE WATCHING PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING.
There I admitted it. Go ahead and judge me if you want, but let me just say this. When I grew up in the 80s and 90s, wrestling was a lot different than it is today. I am talking about the glory days of wrestling – back when you had the WWF, not the WWE; back when the good guys were good guys and everybody cheered for them because you knew they were always going to find a way to pull it out; and most importantly back when the fighting was real, not fake.
[I know, I know, I know. You think it’s all fake. Well, I agree that it might be choreographed, but I won’t go as far as fake. There is no way you can watch this video and tell me it’s fake. This is the infamous Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat vs Macho Man Randy Savage match from 1986. It still sends tingles up my spine.]
If you’ve ever watched wrestling, you know that the goal in any wrestling match is to either a) pin your opponent to the ground for 3 seconds, or b) to make your opponent submit/surrender.
Well, once upon a time, back in the Old Testament times thousands of years ago, there lived a man named Jacob – a man chosen by God to play a great role in the story of God’s people on earth. God had big plans for Jacob – plans that would be written about and spoken about for generations to come.
But there was a problem. Jacob had a problem. He was a deceiver. He was a dishonest man who used deceit and trickery to get what he wanted – even at the expense of his brother, his father and whoever else was in his path. He was a deceiver (see Genesis 27 to read the story of how Jacob, with the help of his mother, tricked his aging and half blind father into giving him the blessing that was supposed to go to his older brother Esau – now that’s a real dysfunctional family!).
God wanted to use Jacob but He couldn’t until Jacob stopped running from Him and from the truth. The truth was that Jacob was a deceiver. That’s actually what the name Jacob means – “deceiver.” And with Jacob it was more than just his name; it was his identity.
But even though Jacob might have been content with that identity, God was not. Jacob probably had a million excuses as to why he needed to deal with people in this way: Esau had it coming… my dad never loved me… everyone else is playing dirty so why not me…
Excuse after excuse after excuse. But in the end, God didn’t want excuses; He wanted a change. That’s why God wrestled with him in Genesis 32.
“Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day.” (that means they wrestled all night long)
And He said, “Let Me go, for the day breaks.”
But he said, “I will not let You go unless You bless me!”
So He said to him, “What is your name?”
He said, “Jacob.”
And He said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.” (Genesis 32:24-28)
WHY WOULD GOD WRESTLE JACOB? Simple, because He knew that was the only way Jacob would see the truth and make a change. At the end of the wrestling bout, God asks Jacob his name – not because God doesn’t know his name, but because God wanted Jacob to admit the truth about his character. He wanted him to acknowledge that “I am Jacob. I am a deceiver. I admit it.”
Has God ever wrestled you? Has God ever cornered you and said “What is your name?” A wise man once said “we don’t usually change because we see the light, but rather because we feel the heat.”
You might not realize it, but that heat you are feeling these days might be from God. The struggle that you find yourself in might be from God. You might be praying for God to remove it, but actually God is the one behind it, bringing it into your life to get you to see the truth about yourself.
What’s the truth about yourself? What’s your name? For Jacob, it was deceiver. For you, it might be arrogant…or selfish… or lustful… or greedy… or worry… or angry… or proud… or bitter… or impatient… or hate. WHAT IS YOUR NAME?
We don’t like to think that the tough circumstances of life might be coming from God, but that’s reality. Often He uses them to get our attention because that’s the only way. Like Jacob, maybe we need to stop running and start facing the truth about ourselves and our true condition. No more excuses. It’s time to man up and face the facts.
WHAT IS YOUR NAME?
Discussion: What are some of the ways that God gets your attention and wrestles you to the ground?