Thursday, March 22, 2007

Lenten Devotional

I wrote the following devotional and prayer for the inter-seminary Lenten devotional project.
Genesis 32:22 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. 23 He took them and sent them across the stream, and everything else that he had. 24 And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. 25 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. 26 Then he said, "Let me go, for the day has broken." But Jacob said, "I will not let you go unless you bless me." 27 And he said to him, "What is your name?" And he said, "Jacob." 28 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." 29 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. 30 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." 31 The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip. 32 Therefore to this day the people of Israel do not eat the sinew of the thigh that is on the hip socket, because he touched the socket of Jacob's hip on the sinew of the thigh.

“I will not let you go until you bless me.” Seems like a strange thing to ask a man who is trying to kick your butt. However, this is the main concern of Jacob. He had a thing for being blessed. The frist time he received a blessing by dishonesty and a strange disguise. This time, he would earn his blessing! But, did he know just what he was getting into? This man whom he had wrestled with was no man at all. This realization hit Jacob hard as his hip popped out of joint. He knew that he had seen the face of the Lord, that he had dared to wrestle with God, that he had been spared what should have been an immidiate death. And the only consequences he had to show for it was a limp and a name change: a reminder for generations to come.
This limp was a constant reminder to Jacob, along with his new monicer, that he had wrestled with God. And there, hanging on the cross, a sign of that contining struggle. A struggle that began with our first parents, a struggle that formed a nation, a struggle that ended with a bruised heel and a crushed head. A struggle that would set us free. Not through our own struggle or work, but through the tender mercy of our Lord. Our flesh, the same flesh that Adam had and the same flesh of Israel, still tries in vain to wrestle with God, unaware that its day is done, that is has been washed away like so much filth in our baptism. It is Christ who took it down to the depths. It is Christ who has set us free. Through His struggle and sacrifice on the cross, our lives have been delivered. We have truly seen God face to face! Come now, let us fix our eyes on this Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, that our lives may be delivered!
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How we would continue to struggle against Your grace, O Lord of mercy, and yet for us You have opened the floodgates of Your love. Give us penitent and contrite hearts, that we may find rest from this struggling. Fix our eyes on our suffering Savior, that our lives may be delivered through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit.

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