Learning to Lean on God

Leaning on God is not a natural stance. In fact sometimes it feels incredibly awkward and downright uncomfortable. It’s much easier (most of the time) to just stand upright and do it myself. “I got this God. I’ll call when I need you.”

Devotional Scripture: Genesis 32:9-32
Key Verse: “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:11

But that’s not how God works is it. Bottom line: God wants me completely dependent on him. Not just for salvation, but for every step, every breath. Because He knows – on my own – I’m doomed. I’ll trust my heart when I shouldn’t. Rely on my own understanding when I actually understand very little. And more often than not, take the wrong path.

So He must teach me to lean; to rely on Him first and foremost. A process every believer endures, so don’t go thinkin’ you’re the exception. We’re all flawed with self-sufficiency. (I know, it stinks.) And the only way to get us from self-dependent to God-dependent is to break us of it, with the hard things. The bring-us-to-our-knees things. The gut-wrenching stuff that escorts us with gusto from a place of self-preservation to undeniable desperation.

A place like Jacob found himself the night before meeting Esau. Scared and anxious about what tomorrow might bring, Jacob sent his family ahead in order to spend what very well might be his last night of life – alone. He’d prayed to the God of his father and grandfather, reminding the LORD of his own words. But felt nothing – no reassurance, no vision, no angel armies. Just terrifying concern.

What was he to do? He hoped to appease Esau with gifts equivalent to that of a birthright. Five droves ranging from goats to donkeys totaling 550 animals plus babies. Maybe it’d work, but what if it didn’t? The thought was almost too much to bear. He couldn’t fight. He didn’t have a militia of 400 men. And besides he didn’t want to.

But little did Jacob realize his entire life he’d been fighting. Fighting a battle of independence and self-sufficiency against a God who requires dependence. Can you relate? I think we all can. We fight to do things our way, in our timing, for our happiness. Afraid to give up our goals and dreams because it’s scary to release control. Sure we believe Jesus died on the cross, but give him control of my life? What if he doesn’t do what I want? True. But what if he does something even better?! With God’s power working in us, God can do much, much more than anything we can ask or think of.” (Eph. 3:20; ICB)

Yet we wrestle with God mentally and spiritually. Symbolized for us through Jacob’s physical wrestling match. Which I just cannot fathom. All night? For real? Did they stop for breaks? Most wrestling matches are so physically exhausting they last for mere minutes, not hours.

And this one was against Jesus no less. Verse 24 says it was a man but after an all night struggle and a miraculous touch to his hip socket Jacob knew, declaring come morning “I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.” How could he see God face to face? Because it was the Angel of the LORD (Hosea 12:4), the preincarnate Jesus Christ, Jacob wrestled with.

What else do we know about the greatest wrestling match of all time? Not much. Except that Jacob didn’t give up. Exhausted, pain pulsing through his lower body at the dislocation of his hip, he held fast. The man even requested, “Let me go, for the day has broken” (v. 26). But Jacob refused. Insisting “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”  

Twenty years prior he went to great lengths to obtain his father’s blessing. A blessing he thought he needed more than anything else. A blessing he was willing to risk his life for. A blessing that cost him more than he ever imagined. But that night on the bank of the Jabbok river – he went to great lengths to obtain God’s.

Realizing the greatest blessing he could possibly receive in this life is not one of his own making but God’s. Bestowed on the one willing to lean; willing to follow. Willing to give up self-sufficiency for God-dependency.

But it’s not natural. Not even a little, so God pursues us. Allowing us times of grief or hardship so we’ll learn to lean. Learn to hold onto him no matter what. So he can bless us. And use us in ways we never imagined. Jacob had no idea what God had planned for him (neither do we). He had no clue on the other side of that river, snuggled close to their mama’s, were the future tribes of Israel.

If God could take a man like Jacob, a self-sufficient deceiver, and make him into a man of faith. Then who knows what he could do with us! Let the refiner work! Let him remake you on the threshing floor of hard times. Into a man or woman of great faith, daily dependent on a God who is faithful. “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Heb. 12:11).

Jacob walked the rest of his life with a limp because of that wrestling match. But I have a feeling he’d say it was worth it. My friend it may not be easy. We may have to wrestle through some tough stuff. But I guarantee you – the blessing of learning to live dependent on God through any and every moment of life – will absolutely be worth it.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
How does your Christian walk reflect a God-dependent faith?
What blessing do you long for more than anything else – one of your own making or God’s?
What difficulty or trial has God used to refine your character to be more like His?

photo credit: Pixabay

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