All of us at one time or another come face-to-face with our past. And it’s always an awkward encounter. When our sins catch up with us we can do one of two things: run or wrestle.
Many choose to run. They brush it off with a shrug of rationalization. “I was a victim of circumstances.” Or, “It was his fault.” Or, “There are many who do worse things.” The problem with this escape is that it’s no escape at all. It’s only a shallow camouflage. No matter how many layers of makeup you put over a black eye, underneath it is still black. And down deep it still hurts.
Jacob finally figured that out. As a result, his example is one worthy of imitation. The best way to deal with our past is to hitch up our pants, roll up our sleeves, and face it head-on. No more buck-passing or scapegoating. No more glossing over or covering up. No more games. We need a confrontation with our Master.
We, too, should cross the creek alone and struggle with God over ourselves. We, too, should stand eyeball to eyeball with him and be reminded that left alone we fail. We, too, should unmask our stained hearts and grimy souls and be honest with the one who knows our most secret sins.
The result could be refreshing. We know it was for Jacob. After his encounter with God, Jacob was a new man. He crossed the river in the dawn of a new day and faced Esau with newfound courage.
Each step he took, however, was a painful one. His stiff hip was a reminder of the lesson he had learned at Jabbok: shady dealings bring pain. Mark it down: play today and tomorrow you’ll pay.
And for you who wonder if you’ve played too long to change, take courage from Jacob’s legacy. No man is too bad for God. To transform a riverboat gambler into a man of faith would be no easy task. But for God, it was all in a night’s work.
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