“We must lay before him what is in us; not what ought to be in us.”
At a recent workout I decided to do some intermittent cardio in between sets. The device I chose is named “Jacobs Ladder” (see image). Anyway, as I was engaging it, I got to thinking about the story of Jacob’s ladder in the Bible. In the story, it’s not Jacob climbing the ladder but rather angels (who are messengers) ascending and descending from heaven and thus signifying that it is God who reaches out to us. There are many interpretations of this dream Jacob had, but almost all scholars (secular and religious) agree that it’s a representation of…
The context of this story is that Jacob was fleeing his brother Esau, who had vowed to kill Jacob because he had stolen Esau’s blessing through trickery and then deceiving their father Isaac. True transformation seems to require giving up our strategies to navigate through life—strategies that are meant to compensate for our insecurities and what we perceive are our inadequacies.
In my view, Jacob didn’t really believe in what God had said about his future and thus felt he had to take it into his owns hands (and I think it had to do with his own doubts about himself) to try to make it happen. Further along in this story Jacob ends up wrestling with an “angel” all night who then touched Jacob’s hip, dislocating it. Jacob is left with a limp. But in the wrestling Jacob obtained a blessing and received a new name: Israel. This is when the transformation happened.
What a picture that even though we have wounds and are imperfect we can be who God has called us to be if we trust in Him and wrestle with the aspects of ourselves that need to be laid down in surrender—while at the same time desiring more. It’s a paradox.
This process is what I always see in our work. People coming to transform an aspect of their life end up in a type of wrestling match in terms of letting limiting beliefs go and stepping out into unprecedented ground. It can be highly destabilizing because as you let go of your tried and true strategies—which are in some manner working—can leave you anxious about what to do next. It’s uncomfortable. It’s unknown. It’s uncertain. It’s scary.
But nevertheless, the wrestling is required. Just like with Jacob, insecurities and questions must be faced. Effort must be put out. Well trusted strategies must be laid down… and then you must ultimately trust in God to come through.
So as you think about the things you want to transform, consider what you have been internally wrestling with and holding onto that you need to surrender. What beliefs about yourself and compensating strategies may you need to let go of in order to grasp a new version of yourself? In doing so you’ll begin to see new possibilities.