Everyone experiences a moment of radical change in their life, and if you have not, you will. A moment when what you knew to be true was altered or adjusted. In a word, changed. These moments have a way of confirming everything or throwing it all to the wind. What you do in these times and in the moments that follow will determine who and what you will become.
In Genesis chapter 32, we find the story of Jacob and his struggle with God. Jacob was in a desperate place in his life. He had used up his options and was coming face to face with a situation that seemed to have one certain ending. But the night before his certain demise, he had an experience, a literal struggle. Jacob wrestled the whole night with a man, and when the man realized Jacob had no intention of letting him go, he touch his hip and caused it to wrench out of place.
The man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go until you bless me.”
The man asked Jacob his name and then said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.” And then, he blessed him.
You see, Jacob understood that the wrestle wasn’t enough to change his situation. He would leave that place with no more than a story. He needed a life altering change. Jacob left that day with a new identity, a new blessing, and a new limp to remind him of it all.
We serve a radical and reliable God. One who created us as humans to crave and pursue an experience of our own, something personal and real to us. When Jacob fought for that contact with God and pursued a change even when it seemed impossible, it changed him on every level. God didn’t simply offer a blessing, a promise of a good future, but He changed who Jacob was—from “a follower, a supplanter” to “Israel”, the father of the tribes of Israel. With this blessing came a reminder of the struggle, a limp, which Israel carried with him through the rest of his life. His limp was a clear reminder of that experience; that touch from God.
Reminders can sometimes be a beautiful rainbow or painful scar, but those reminders of our experiences with God come wrapped in different packages. They may look more like a physical ailment that can’t seem to be righted, but keeps us praying. It may be a financial situation that ties your trust to God. A hurtful personal betrayal from people you trusted, proving you must rely on God through it all. The reminder may even be something as painful as a past that seems to affect every part of the way you function.
Our fault comes when we assume that the reminders we live with are problems to be prayed away, rather than blessings to keep us focused. A vocal problem for a singer may seem to be the end of the world, but what if it was actually God’s way of reminding us to praise through the pain; through the circumstance? Why? Because it isn’t by our own power that we accomplish anything in our lives.
There is something undeniable about the simple touch of God. Once you’ve experienced it, you literally cannot stay the same. It changes who you are, who your children will be, the way you walk, and the words you speak.
Will we remember?
Olivia Dummer is a student in Blue Springs, Missouri where Steve Smith is her pastor. She writes and keeps an inspirational blog hoping to encourage others and share what she’s learned about God.