i spent the night at my parents’ house last night …. a) to spend time with them, b) their house it literally a stone’s throw from our voting precinct, and c) i didn’t want to get up early, drive 20 min to take 1 min to vote and then drive 20 back to go to work. but it all worked out nicely 🙂 i arrived, and mom and i had a mug of warm beverage (hot tea for her, hot cocoa for me …. even after all these years, she remembers how i like it!) and caught up over the last two days since we had seen each other while my dad dozed (and snored) on the couch. i fed popcorn to the dog, startled our korean exchange student (she didn’t know i was there, and thought i was a ghost when she heard me laugh from the other room), and fell asleep watching kung fu panda with my sister. but i also picked up ‘light from heaven’ by jan karon- the last book on the mitford series.
[plug here: if you need a series to read, this is it. here’s the link to the first one on amazon: http://www.amazon.com/At-Home-Mitford-Years-Book/dp/014025448X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1257277686&sr=8-1]
i won’t go into details about the plot of the book or series, but i will say that this is probably my favorite series next to c.s. lewis’ chronicles of narnia. high praise indeed! i don’t think any other books have made me laugh as hard as these have! …. but the main character makes a statement during a dinner scene that struck me when i re-read it. he quotes george macdonald: “man finds it hard to get what he wants, because he does not want the best. god finds it hard to give, because he would give the best and man will not take it.”
i would be lying if i said i was in a great place spiritually right now. i am stubborn, and i refuse to let go of some things that i know are not good for me, let alone god’s best for me. this past sunday, jon continued a series called ‘ghost stories’ …. and this teaching came out of genesis 32:22-32. jacob has fled from his father-in-law laban, taking his two wives, all their children and possessions, and is headed back to his homeland in canaan. at this point neither jacob nor laban is anyone who could be considered a moral, upstanding example of a man. jacob deceived his father to steal his brother’s birthright, laban tricked jacob into marrying both of his daughters and has connived against and mistreated jacob as both an employee and a son-in-law. the difference here is that jacob did have the birthright- the birthright of the promise god made to his grandfather abraham, and to his father isaac. jacob, although living up to his name -deceiver, supplanter- has a different destiny.
he sends his wives, children, servants and livestock accross the river jabb0k and stays on the opposite bank alone for the night. but then a man comes, and wrestles with him until daybreak. the man could not overpower jacob, but touched jacob’s hip and wrenched it. when the man told jacob to “let me go, for it is daybreak,” jacob refuses to release him until the man blesses him. the man asked jacob for his name; when jacob told him, the man “your name will no longer be jacob, but israel, because you have struggled with god and with men and have overcome.” whether this man was a christophany, or just an angel, i am not sure. but i do know that god sometimes limits himself so that we can deal with him as we need to. there are some things that we must wrestle through with him, and leave behind before we can move forward into the mystery of who we are created to become and do. this moment is the river jabbok in our lives: will we be the same person when we cross it? jacob crossed with a new name, and walking forward into the fulfillment of the promise god made to his forefathers.
i am standing on the edge of the jabbok, clinging to the things i know i need to cast away from me and leave behind so that i can cross. like i said before, i am stubborn. i am struggling to let go of my destiny and let god direct me, because i am scared of where i will end up if i’m not the one controlling where we are headed. but i want to want to wrestle with the man on the shore and leave changed. thankfully i am a work in progress. and thankfully the lord loves me too much to let me remain on the shore, and remain unchanged. and thankfully he waits- because he desires that i come to him desiring to be changed, and desiring to go forward. but at the same time, i have no choice- the work of the holy spirit in me compels me forward. that, and my curiosity. i want the best- god’s best- desperately. more than i can say.
[to listen to the audio of jon’s message from sunday, click here: http://www.brentwoodchurch.org/templates/index.php?page=listen-online]