In our passage today, Jacob is still manipulating, but this time he does it with gifts. He thinks if he gives his brother enough gifts then Esau will forgive him and not be angry any longer. He sent the gifts on ahead with servants to soften Esau’s heart. Nevertheless, Jacob remained fearful for his very life. What would Esau say, what would he do? When Jacob left many years before, his brother was so angry he could kill him. Would this still be the case?
Since Jacob left his brother, God had been working on his heart and Jacob had become a broken man. Now, right before Jacob is to meet up with Esau, an angel wrestles with him. Jacob was used to getting his way and while the angel told Jacob to let him go, Jacob refused unless the angel would bless him. The angel did bless him, but not before knocking his hip out of joint thus causing Jacob (now known as Israel) to walk with a limp.
Brokenness is a wonderful and painful state, but the perfect place for fathers. God pursued Jacob on several occasions, just as God has pursued you. Like you, Jacob didn’t always have God’s interest in mind. Nevertheless, God knew Jacob needed a revelation of his own depravity and ultimate dependency on Father God. While Jacob may have been known as the deceiver, in our reading today, he has an encounter with God and is given a new name and a limp. No father can truly be an effective dad unless he has had a name change and is broken. Before I came to Christ I was a sinner with the potential of being a very bitter person. Once I came to know the Lord I was renamed and God calls me a saint. Sure I sin just like you, but now my identity as a child of God is a saint. In addition to a new identity I walk with a limp because, like Jacob I have walked through times of brokenness. We will never reach our potential as a father unless we are broken. What are we broken from? Pride, great reputation, being liked by everyone, looking nice, owning a nice home, driving a nice car etc., are all areas where God desires to break us. So am I saying we shouldn’t desire a nice car or want to be liked by everyone? No, but when these issues come before our devotion and love of God, we need to be broken.
I work with pastors and one of the most challenging areas of pastoring is measuring success. Most pastors measure success by the size of the church they lead. In our modern-day world of “mega churches” many pastors think they are failures because they lead a small church. Ideally, pastors should measure their success by the effectiveness of the church to make disciples. When pastors realize it’s not size but discipleship that matters, it’s usually due to being broken. When a pastor is broken, he regains a deep abiding love for God and stops comparing himself with the pastor down the road.
Dad, realize your number one priority is to know God. To know God is to enjoy him and desire to lay everything else down that stands in the way of loving God. Jacob walked with a limp and we should as well. The limp indicates that we are broken. Pride causes us to resist God and his love for us. Don’t compare yourself with other dads, seek the Lord and be broken to his purposes. When you walk in brokenness you will be the father your children need.