Wrestling Angels

As I wrote yesterday about walking with God, I was reminded of Jacob wrestling with an angel. The story is found in Genesis chapter 32, from verse 23 to the end of the chapter.

I re-read the story this morning and am smiling as I take a few notes:

  • “In the course of the night …” My biggest struggles with God have certainly been “in the night,” in the dark times.
  • “Jacob was left there alone.” Again, these struggles come when I feel most alone.
  • “Then some man wrestled with him …” You know, it often feels like my struggle is against “a man” or a person or a situation in my life. But eventually I come to realize that the REAL struggle is spiritual, and with God. He is asking something of me and I wrestle with it, with Him.
  • “But Jacob said, ‘I will not let you go until you bless me.'” Perseverance. Seeking blessing. Refusing to give up until you receive what only God can give, even though the pain at the moment is great.
  • “… you have contended with divine and human beings and have prevailed …” and “Jacob limped along because of his hip.” Jacob wrestled with an angel! This is explicitly stated in Hosea 12:5. The angel told Jacob he had prevailed, but the victory wasn’t without cost. Jacob was left with a limp, a reminder of the struggle.

I am reflecting on all of this. I realized yesterday that I really am willing in my mind and my heart to do anything God asks, but sometimes it takes a while to figure out what … or with Whom … I am struggling. This time it isn’t the “dream” I’m giving up that is difficult. The difficulty is my feelings about the unfairness of this situation and wanting to make a point or “win the argument.”

I suspect that moving forward, I’ll continue to struggle with resentment as I watch things happen I didn’t want. But those “things” are just a limp I’m left with. God has blessed me, and has told me, “Walk with me.”

Walk With Me

I’ve been in a great struggle. What I want is at great odds with what my husband wants and I feel angry, discouraged, resentful.

And when I pray, God tells me, “Walk with me.”

What does that mean? Does that mean I just give in? Truly and honestly, It isn’t fair.

“Walk with me.”

But I have dreams too, and these are mine. Why do I have to be the one to give up my dreams?

“Walk with me.”

I’ve searched myself with brutal honesty. I can truthfully say that the root of my dreams truly is to be closer to God, to be in a position to grow in my relationship with Him. I want to be nearer my church, my church family; I want to purposefully create a worship space.

I know what I want isn’t “wrong;” what I desire is “good.” And yet … and yet it clearly isn’t God’s will for me right now. I don’t know why; I don’t understand. But I hear Him, and I trust Him.

“Walk with me.”

Speak, Lord, your servant is listening. Yes, I will walk with you. Yes, I will surrender my own dreams. Yes, I trust that you have purpose in this. Yes, I will work to overcome my tangled feelings about all of this, and toward my husband.

Please grant me your strength, your wisdom, your grace. Help me keep my eyes on you.

Teach me how to walk.

Journey With the Holy Spirit

I’m reading Forgotten God by Francis Chan, a pastor at Cornerstone Church in California.

One of the things the author writes about that has resonated with me is how some people focus on, “What is God’s will for my life?” as if it was a single big thing we should set as a goal to achieve.

But in reality, God’s will is to be found (when we seek it) in ordinary everyday moments. It’s a daily seeking, not a one-time revelation or something God gives to us once in a while for big decisions.

It reminded me of my “life scripture:”

“Rejoice always! Pray without ceasing!
In all circumstances give thanks, for this is God’s will
for you in Christ Jesus.”
(1 Thess 5:16-18)

TODAY I am exactly where God has placed me. TODAY’s circumstances are His will for me, whether blessing or trial.

How do I respond? Am I seeking the Holy Spirit to guide me through it? Or am I caught up in trying to figure out the future, a plan or a goal or a “bigger thing?”

God tells us He has a plan for us … but He doesn’t lay out the plan or explain how it’s going to work. In fact, we learn to trust Him and to walk in faith because we don’t really know.

I think part of the reason I like this, is I catch myself sometimes wondering if I missed something – I haven’t done any big or grand or important thing in service to God. I’m just a very small, ordinary person; not any great saint.

So it is comforting to be reminded that I’m where He has placed me, my quiet little life is His will for me, and as long as I keep seeking Him in the ordinary moments of ordinary days, I’m on the path He’s set out for me.

It’s about the journey, with Him.


“But they did not understand this saying; its meaning was hidden from them
so that they should not understand it …” (Luke 9:45)

We struggle to understand. We are an impatient people and want answers now.

But some things aren’t meant to be grasped immediately; we have to wait for them to unfold before we can really put everything together in a way that makes sense. Sometimes its a matter of maturity and growth before we “get there,” but I think other times it is a blessing given to us. When we finally see and understand, we can remember and be comforted that once again, God knew and prepared us.

How often are we told that Mary pondered things in her heart? The things announced to her by the angel, the report from the shepherds on the night of Jesus’ birth, the words of Simeon and Anna in the temple. She must have been puzzled, but she seemed to submit herself to what she was given to know at that time. Eventually all of it made sense.

In some ways I am a very patient person. I can wait my turn and wait for things to happen in my life quite easily on a physical level.

But “understanding” is different … there are times I am so anxious to understand and when I don’t “get it” I feel much distress.

I think the LORD is showing me I need to stop struggling. Receive what is given and continue to wait on the LORD. Be watchful as events unfold; recognize His hand in everything going on, and remember.

Who is the enemy?

33 After this, Nicanor went up to Mount Zion. Some of the priests from the sanctuary and some of the elders of the people came out to greet him peaceably and to show him the burnt offering that was being sacrificed for the king.
34 But he mocked and ridiculed them, defiled them, and spoke arrogantly.
35 In a rage he swore: “If Judas and his army are not delivered to me at once, when I return victorious I will burn this temple down.” He went away in great anger.
36 The priests, however, went in and stood before the altar and the sanctuary. They wept and said:
37 “You have chosen this house to bear your name, to be a house of prayer and supplication for your people.
(1 Maccabees 7:33-37)

This morning as I read this passage, I wept.

What a reflection of today’s world, of its hatred toward the people of God. In large ways (martyrs in the middle east) and smaller ways, “comedians,” “artists,” and “celebrities” mock and ridicule believers; groups disrupt mass and attempt to defile the altar and Eucharist.

And as in this passage, besides the arrogance there is often great anger.

I get it that not all Christians behave very well; I understand people sometimes feel wounded by the church. But I read a passage like this and I feel great sorrow for all involved … both for the people being mistreated, and also for the people who are so filled with anger and rage, arrogance and disgust at other people … even who have received them peaceably.

What an pitiable existence; how empty and without peace. How broken.

These people are not my enemy. I fast and I pray for them, sincerely. What an amazing witness it would be if a Bill Maher, Madonna, or Dan Savage were to be transformed even as Paul was.

For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the
principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness,

with the evil spirits in the heavens.
(Ephesians 6:12)

Gratitude for Trials

I have a mental list of passages that remind me to be grateful for trials. Here are only two of them:

Now this trial the Lord therefore permitted to happen to him,
that an example might be given to posterity of his patience, as also of holy Job.
(Tobit 2:12)

“Besides all this, let us give thanks to the Lord our God for putting us to the test as he did our ancestors.
Recall how he dealt with Abraham, and how he tested Isaac, and all that happened to Jacob in Syrian Mesopotamia while he was tending the flocks of Laban, his mother’s brother.
He has not tested us with fire, as he did them, to try their hearts, nor is he taking vengeance on us. But the Lord chastises those who are close to him in order to admonish them.”
(Judith 8:23-27)

I was reminded this morning of a beautiful story about the Refiner’s Fire. It’s not long, and I’d like to share it!

And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver:
and he shall purify  
the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver,
that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.

 (Malachi 3:3)

While reading Malachi chapter 3, a woman noticed a remarkable expression in the third verse: “And He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.”

She went to visit a silversmith and, without telling the object of her errand,
begged to know the process of refining silver, which the smith described to her.

“But, sir,” she said, “do you sit while the work of refining is going on?”

“Oh, yes, ma’am,” replied the silversmith. “I must sit with my eye
steadily fixed on the furnace, for if the time necessary for refining is
exceeded in the slightest degree, the silver will be injured.”

The woman at once saw the beauty and comfort of the expression,
“He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.” God sees it needful to put
His children into a furnace: His eye is steadily intent on the work of purifying,
and His wisdom and love are both engaged in the best manner for them.
Their trials do not come at random: “the very hairs of your head are all numbered.”

As the woman was leaving the shop, the silversmith called her back
and said he had forgotten to mention that the only way to know when
the purifying process is complete is  . . .

 . . .when he can see his own image reflected in the silver.


Tobit remains one of my favorite books of the Bible, causing me to ponder many things every time I read it.

Some of the little thoughts & questions that rattled through my mind as I read it again, in no particular order …

Raphael. It seems to me he is a perfect patron saint for parents as they pray for their children. He gave guidance, healing and protection to Tobit and his family, even pursuing a demon and binding it hand & foot. When he revealed his identity, he said some very interesting things:

  • When Tobit and Sarah prayed, Raphael presented and read the record of their prayer before the Glory of the Lord
  • He did the same when Tobit used to bury the dead
  • Raphael was sent to put Tobit to the test, and at the same time God commissioned him to heal Tobit & Sarah
  • Raphael is one of the 7 angels who enter & serve before the Glory of the Lord
  • When Raphael came to Tobit, “it was not out of any favor on my part, but because it was God’s will.”

Sarah’s Parents. Can you imagine how they felt? They had given their daughter in marriage 7 times, and each time her new husband had died on their wedding night. They loved their daughter dearly. Their hearts must have ached for her, and they also must have felt great dread when Tobias asked her hand in marriage. They admired their relative Tobit and now, it seemed to them, Tobit’s son would lose his life because of their daughter. How bitter it must have been. Raguel got up in the night to dig a grave; and later when it was discovered that Tobias and Sarah were safe and sleeping, he sent servants out to fill the grave in. That made me laugh!

Tobit. While he was being tested, I’m sure he felt great despair. He had spent years risking his own life to bury the dead in secret to please God; he had endured much ridicule for his actions. But when his son Tobias introduced himself to Raguel and also to Gabael in Rages, both men exclaimed with joy what a wonderful man his father Tobit was. Did Tobit know he was admired?

Anna. Tobias & Raphael were delayed in their return to Tobit & Anna. Anna was worried when they first set out on their journey and counted the days, knowing when they ought to return. She watched the road and her fears grew deeper as the days passed with no sign of her only son. How often do we pray with great desperation and love? How often do we despair that the prayer will not be answered in the way we desire? How often do we wish we could just know what has happened and see what is in the future as we wait on the LORD? I have to rejoice with Anna that not only was her prayer answered and Tobias returned safely home, but he brought with him a beautiful wife who gave them grandchildren.

There is just so much in this story; it is rich in every way.





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