Do you ever consider that to be loved can be very vulnerable? What do I mean when I say that love is vulnerable? A pastor friend shared this thought with us many years ago, at a men’s leadership retreat, that is to love, and be loved opens us up to being vulnerable.
There is risk in that as we would come to open ourselves up to God, to let Him in and be the controller of our life, we expose ourselves to our own vulnerability of uncertainty.
As we shared there that weekend many years ago, there would be a lifetime of chipping away those area’s in our life that would be keeping us in His grace and power to do it’s work in learning to be loved.
Each one of us, if we’re intellectually honest, have had many moments in our years of growing and learning, where our vulnerability of receiving God’s grace in time of need is what kept us keeping on keep’n on, when we have no physical strength and/or emotional resource left in us, other than to recognize God’s power and intervention.
Let’s look at Isaac’s son Jacob. The time and place in Jacob’s life is when he departed from his father-in-law Laban to return home with his two wives, Leah and Rachael, and all his sons to go back to the land of Canaan to his father Isaac. He stole away in the night as it were, on a dare you might say. Dare to obey God’s command to go back, [Genesis 31:11-13] face an encounter with his brother Esau, who he stole the birthright from if you know the story. He prepared much to appease his brother Esau.
As we begin from Genesis 32:13, [RSV] ‘So he lodged there that night he delivered into the hand of his servants a large amount of livestock as a gift for his brother Esau. “Pass on before me and put a space between drove and drove.” He instructed the foremost, “When Esau my brother meets you, and asks you, ‘To whom do you belong? Where are you going? And whose are those before you? ‘then you shall say, ‘They belong to your servant Jacob; they are a present sent to my lord Esau; and moreover he is behind us.’ ”
Consider if you will, the scene… was this a cultural exercise that he sent his servants on before him, no, but rather out of fear, that he might appease his brother to find forgiveness for the past. Was there vulnerability and intimidation in all this?.. for sure, but consider God’s instruction for Jacob, to return to Canaan, and how Jacob in time of testing, was to trust in God to see him through all this.
Was there a vulnerable sense of danger and risk? Again yes, but let’s continue on to see what happens next. I think this next scene is really where vulnerability of Jacob shows God’s love and grace toward Jacob, in his finest hour as it were, as Jacob wrestles with the angel of God.
Let’s pick up the scene continuing from verse 22, ‘The same night he arose and took his two wives, his two maids, and his eleven children and crossed the ford at Jabbok. He took them and sent them across the stream, and likewise everything that he had. And Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched the hallow of his thigh; and Jacobs
thigh was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. Then he said, “let me go, for the day is breaking.” But Jacob said, “I will not you go, unless you bless me.”
What has just happen to Jacob during the course of that night alone with God? Visualize the scene that night in the desert alone, on the other side of the river from his family. Here finally after wrestling all night, this messenger of God identifies himself as to who he is, and in so many words telling this strong willed man, you’ve proved your tenacity. Quite possibly, to measure him for what would still be head.
I’m not referring here to the encounter with his brother Esau, but rather the years ahead and the subsequent temporary agony to feel, for the loss of his son Joseph, and enduring those years of famine and struggle before his son Joseph reveals himself as Pharaoh’s Prime Minister and savior to his family as it were.
‘Dare to be loved by God?’ Just who was this person, this deceiver, to be loved and chosen by God, who was given a new name as one who prevailed with God? He was just like one of us, someone God chose, who was to become the father to sons of the twelve tribes of Israel. In himself, a deceiver, as I mentioned, a manipulator, not one with any angelic character qualities by any means. Was he left open to be scrutinized and tested by God, you bet he was.
Whether we recognize it or not, our Lord is putting us through our own trial and cross that we bear to see what we’re made of. To strengthen our faith through each hour of concern.
There’s a wonderful blessing in this of being a part of the family of God. We’re never left alone to rest in our strength, to let our own reasoning prevail over God’s wonderful grace and encouragement. We can receive each day from Him, through His word, through much prayer those essential necessities required for each day. We too, may have encounters with angels unaware.
Because we now have His Son, when going through trials as Jacob, our own vulnerable experiences can help us by learning to lean on Him more, recognize surrender, to let Him lead the way as it were.
Our need to be loved, loved as only God can show His love upon us, is what he wants us also to give to others in our living. Not a selfish or possessive me first heart attitude, but rather, a love that does not seek it’s own way, is not rude or resentful.
For sure, Esau displayed this to his brother Jacob with a forgiving heart. Yes, love can be vulnerable to reach out, let go, and step forward in our faith, and dare to be loved by God.
We need not wrestle with God as Jacob did, but rather, we can find our rest in His peace, as we allow ourselves, daring to be loved by Him more, because He first loves us.