So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.”

Every believer in Jesus Christ must have a defining moment in his or her life. Jacob’s moment occurred when he was about to meet his brother, Esau, in the desert after years of separation. The last time he had seen Esau was when he manipulated Esau’s birthright years ago. Jacob assumed that when they met, Esau was going to try to kill him, so he sent gifts ahead as a peace offering. And he spent a restless night in prayer asking God to spare his and his family’s life.
Jacob lived a life of control and manipulation. Yet, there was something in Jacob that God found worthy of redemption. Jacob had a heart that genuinely wanted to serve and be used of God. But God had to do something in him to chisel away the bad traits in his life.
God chose to combat Jacob’s flaws by sending an angel in the form of a man to wrestle away the striving in Jacob. The only way to remove this characteristic from Jacob was to injure his physical abilities. “When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man” (Genesis 32:25-26).
Jacob’s natural abilities were so great that God literally had to make Jacob a weaker man physically in order for God’s power to be manifested in his life. This marked a turning point for Jacob. A new nature was birthed in him that required a total trust in God. In recognition of this defining moment, his name was changed. In Genesis it is written, “Then the man said, ‘Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome’” (Genesis 32:28).
My friend Bob Mumford once said, “Beware of any Christian leader who does not walk with a limp.” If a leader has not wrestled with God over his or her natural abilities and come to a place of total dependence on God, that leader will live a life of striving and manipulation.
Let go and let God do the work needed in you. When this happens, even your enemies will be at peace with you.

Hillman, O. (2011). Tgif: today god is first. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell.

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