TODAY’S READING: Genesis 32–34
Jacob didn’t feel worthy to carry God’s missionary baton (Gen. 32:10). God revealed to Jacob the master plan regarding God’s glory among the nations (v. 12), and now Jacob carried two internal stresses: he felt unworthy and he fretted that his brother would eliminate him. Jacob, like Abraham, struggled to connect the dots (“I just don’t see how God will use me and my limitations to bless the nations!”) and had to wrestle this through with God. Blessing had been promised—a blessing inextricably linked to the nations—and Jacob had to hold onto that promise, not letting go of God until he had peace it would be fulfilled (v. 26). That peace has to be wrestled for alone. No one can tell another what his or her role will be among the nations, whether to go or to send (or to do both), is between each one and Jehovah.
Jacob obtains both his peace and his limp. Jacob realizes he has seen the face (and heart) of God (v. 30), and in aligning his will to God’s will, life is preserved. Limps remind us with whom we wrestled and what God’s bigger picture is, and they remind us that God’s will ultimately links to the broadest blessing. Gaining God’s missionary heart always marks us; something we thought we needed must be lost if we are going to walk in His ways.
Jacob also laid down the desire for physical blessing and security. I imagine that realizing he could get along without two strong legs taught him he could get along without his accumulated wealth. He says to his brother: “Please, take my blessing that is brought to you, because God has dealt graciously with me, and because I have enough” (33:11). On the heels of a wrestle for the heart and mission of God, this sentiment is not just about physical wealth. Jacob is saying that God’s will and God’s purpose are enough and that carrying God’s missionary baton—even with a limp, only with a limp—is more than enough.
God is looking for those who can overlook offense in order to make Him famous among the nations. A leading cause of missionary attrition is the inability to overlook hurts received from brothers (sisters, leaders, friends, disciples, colleagues, and local partners) in the work. Many missionaries limp home; they do not limp on. The princes of God [for that is what God now calls Jacob (35:10)] are those who limp on after offense and who cause no offense to the nations.
The Dinah incident displays the un-missionary heart of Simeon and Levi, a heart that holds onto offense and in angry hurt keeps the nations out of God’s family. Shechem, imperfect yet honorable, wanted to marry into God’s family and to bring his whole tribe with him (34:23), but two of Jacob’s sons could not countenance a walk with that ignoble limp. Unable to absorb offense, they made their father (and our Father) obnoxious among the nations (v. 30). To be faithful sons and daughters of the Father is to overlook offenses—from within and without—absorbing them and limping further down the path, determined at all costs to make room for all God’s peoples to inherit all God’s blessings.