“As the first light of day breaks, the stranger ceases the struggle and bids to depart. It is only then that Jacob realizes he has not been at war with a mere man. He is in the presence of an angel, or more terrifying , God himself. The “man” touches Jacob’s leg, and the deceiver is permanently marked with a limp. Jacob then asks for a blessing and won’t let go until he receives it. The man renames him Israel, meaning “you have struggled with God.”
Israel, nee Jacob, then names the place of their wrestling Peniel meaning face of God, because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared. He wrestles with God and comes away broken and renamed. His limp is a reminder of when God renames us, he makes each one of us a new person through a redemption that requires brokenness.
The process of becoming a person who can lead others with a limp is not what we would have predicted. Do we really have to be that desperate and that deeply exposed to be freed from our narcissism, our fear, our dogmatism, and our tendency to hide? The story of Jacob exalts not the struggle but the goodness of God as he blesses a conniving undeserving man. No matter how off the mark we might be, we see in this account the promise that if we open ourselves to meet with God, we will not come out of that encounter the same. We will walk a new path- with an unpredictable gait. “
If you back track through the blogs posted from the beginning of this year, you can almost parallel this short story of truth above, to the path that I have been on for this entire year. A story of God’s redemption. Of God taking this broken heart and breathing new afresh life back into it. As I write this I sit with a heart posture of humility, resting in complete awe of all that God does, of who He is, and how much He longs to be the authors of our stories, and of our lives. And of what our lives look like when we just place them into His hands.
I head back to England at the end of the month to join ICY-UK and the Reign team once again. I am so thankful to be able to be reunited with so many friends and people that I would call family. I am also joining Bloxham Baptist church for my placement. This is a very exciting time for when I went over for the interview at the end of October, it was very clear that this would be a great fit for both sides. As a team we have great anticipation of what God is going to do for His kingdom and for His glory and how we are going to partner with that vision in our area. I spent a majority amount of the time with the leadership team over dinners and just hanging out doing day to day things. I loved the vision but also loved the normalcy.
On the American end, I have been attending Summit Church since I arrived back in February. I love that they are not interested in holding the name of Summit high but more importantly the name of Christ. The vision they rest in to reach every man, woman and child with the gospel bringing people into loving relationships with Christ and with others seeps from their pores. I have been somewhat involved in the Ignite ministry, the student ministry, and have been discussing the idea of what it could look like for students here in the Florida area to do the 10 month gap year greenhouse project in England. This has opened the door to a great partnership that I pray will be long term encouraging students to take a year out to serve in a context other than their own .
God has orchestrated both of these opportunities. This is a dream for me, the desire to see students from all around the world wanting to help raise up an entire generation of young people in the UK to be disciples of Christ. I know that some reading this may think that I am crazy but it’s the crazy ones who end up changing the world. My sight isn’t fixed on one particular area, but fixed on an entire nation. It’s crazy that this dream is now a tangible reality that I am walking in. And not because I earn it or deserve it but because God freely gives it and enables it. I am thankful and humbled by the opportunities that have been placed before me and feel a great sense of responsibility to fulfill the call that God has placed on my life. I am so appreciative that I have been given to chance to participate in his mission for the Kingdom in Florida, the UK, and other places and how all of these are to be connected.
Bringing this back to Jacob and his story, He was permanently marked with a limp after his wrestling with God. But only after his wrestling did God change his name and make him a leader. This story resonates with me. It was extremely hard to leave the UK to come back to Florida. It was a difficult transition and all the processing; all the wrestling that has taken place has been exhausting. But in that God has given new life, new sight, fresh perspective, eternal friendships, partnerships, extended views of the Kingdom, and ultimately it has enhanced my picture and image of God. When God challenges us to embark on a journey that feels so far beyond us, it can be scary and sometimes we choose to not to go. The safety of staying in the harbor is easier so we choose to not sail. But boats were never meant to stay docked. They were meant to sail.
Or we can choose to sail and step into what has been presented to us regardless of how difficult it may seem and see that God does bring beauty out of ashes. We can embrace all that God is doing in the shaping of our character, the shaping our hearts and ultimately end up a new person. Like Jacob, like me, and like you. A person with a limp but a person that is more open to be used by God.
(Sidenote: I started this blog and left it, then Melissa told to me that she felt like God was telling her to mention to me to write. I am thankful that God uses others to speak to me knowing what is good for my heart and for my relationship with Him)