I know what you're thinking - it's Caitlin's turn for an intro! True, but being that her birthday is Thursday, I'm saving her intro for then :)
The title of this post is from Gen.32:21 (NIV). It was the thing that hit me in this morning's sermon. Not the only thing that hit me, but the one that got me thinking the most. And not because it was one of the last points made, either! The whole sermon was awesome, and I'm so grateful to have found our church home at Central! I have never been so sure of what/why I believe as I am now. I don't know that I've ever had a Sunday morning at Central that a light bulb doesn't turn on somehow.
So, back to that verse. A super quick recap on what happened right before this verse is Jacob wrestled with God, and even after God threw Jacob's hip out, Jacob would not let go until God blessed him. Jacob (his name means deceiver/manipulator - basically summed up his life up - but gotta give the guy SOME credit for working a total of 14 years for Rachel's hand in marriage!) had a turning point during that wrestling match. Afterwards, God changed Jacob's name to Israel because he had "struggled with God and with men, and had overcome"(vs.28) Overcome. He had struggles. He was a shady guy. But he had overcome. That didn't mean he got to walk away as though nothing ever happened. He walked away with a limp. A limp that served as a reminder. A reminder of his struggles, a reminder of his turning point, and probably most important - a reminder of his need for God.
Paul was also mentioned this morning as a man with a thorn in his side. Paul (named Saul before his conversion) was also a not-so-nice guy, even worse than Jacob, by earthly comparison, as he murdered Christians! Paul also overcame. And yet he still had a thorn in his side (like Jacob and his limp). His own reminder to keep him in check, so-to-speak.
Something else I'm thinking is this - what great statement would be made if Jacob and Paul had been honorable their whole lives? If they never did anything morally wrong? No doubt, angels in heaven would be rejoicing over their conversions from a life without God to a life with God, but what hope would that give the 'really bad guys?' The ones who aren't honorable or moral, who would happen to read these verses? I think one of many reasons God chose to have these stories written is because they would make an impact of, 'If God can change them, He can surely change me!"
When we turn our life over to Christ, does that mean life is smooth sailing from here on out, that we get one of those cool 'EASY' buttons? Nope. Though our thorns may not be an obvious limp like Jacob's, God will keep reminding us of our need for Him. I'm thinking of just this morning, driving to church on some yucky roads (it had snowed a bit last night, and the plows hadn't been out long enough to really clear the roads). Whether I'm conscious of it or not, every time I've had to drive with similar or even worse road conditions, I'm reminded of my need for God's protection. With Trevor's asthma problem the last few days, I'm reminded of my need for God's healing hand. When we get an unexpected expense come up, I'm reminded of my need for God's provision. When I'm hurting, when I'm down, when I'm scared, when I just don't know what to do anymore, I'm reminded of my need for God.
And I am so very thankful He won't let me forget :)