Why? Because I had promised my kids I would, and it was on me to deliver.
It doesn’t matter if my children remembered I made them pancakes that morning (they don’t); it doesmatter that they know me as a promise keeper.
In this week's reading, Moses wants the Israelites to know the same thing— He reminds the Israelites of God’s faithfulness by taking them back in history. Their physical journey was something God had put into motion a long time prior. Joseph was sold into slavery and, because of famine, moved his family to Egypt where the descendents of Israel grew to be so numerous Pharaoh was threatened and, well, you know the rest of the story.
Here, the nation of Israel is on the cusp of change, again. They are getting ready to enter into their Promised Land. Moses uses the opportunity to address their heart condition. He encourages them to be humble and keep God’s ways. Then, my favorite part, reminds them that they did not earn access into this promised land— it is a gift from God. And if God started it, and God promised it, God would finish it.
Have you, like me, ever felt like you are, a bit impatiently, waiting in the wilderness? Knowing that God made you a promise, but not seeing any progress?
God freed the Israelites from their slavery in Egypt forty years before they actually succeeded in entering the land flowing with milk and honey. Interestingly, they had reached the doorstep of the Promised Land less than two years after leaving Egypt, but didn’t trust God to give them the victory. God never intended for Israel to wander forty years. It was their own choices that had prolonged the journey. But, through it all, God cared for them and walked each step with them, bringing their descendants back again.
You see, friend, God never wastes our time. He is walking each step of this journey with us and, just like with the Israelites, continually teaching so we can be ready to step into what He has promised.
Are you in a season of waiting and repetition? Consider what God is teaching you. Is there a faith step forward that you can take?
As moms, we’re not always perfect promise keepers, but God is. What God puts into motion, He will bring to completion. Like Israel, our journey is less about what is happening around us and more about what is happening within us. In the dust of the desert God is preparing our hearts to trust Him. He is patiently waiting for us to trust and obey. As with the Israelites, obedience doesn’t earn us the Promised Land, but it is necessary to claim it.
Remembering God’s faithfulness in the past helps us remember that He is present both now and in the future. He is a Promise Keeper.
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Jacob, whose name means “heel biter” or “deceiver”, uses cunning and deceit in an attempt to help God. Despite God’s many promises, pursuits and proven faithfulness, Jacob continues to meddle in his life and the lives of others. He cheats Esau, deceives Laban, and tactically divides his family for protection while trying to buy Esau’s forgiveness with lavish gifts. Finally, when faced with Esau’s 400 men, Jacob recognizes that his own efforts may not be enough. He prays, “God, I am not worthy. God, I am afraid. God, save me. God, you said!” (Genesis 32:10.)
Have you ever prayed like this— desperately realizing the control you thought you had was just an illusion? God answers Jacob’s prayer, not by relieving him of his situation, but by sending “the man” to wrestle with him. In Jacob’s own strength, fueled by willpower and determination, he wrestles with God and “wins”. Realizing Jacob would not yield his will, God overcomes him, taking out his ability to wrestle by touching his hip. (This, to me, feels like losing.)
God changes Jacob’s name saying “...your name shall no longer be Jacob but Israel, for you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.” Genesis 32:28.
Physically wounded, and realizing God is more powerful than he, a fully surrendered Jacob holds onto God until he receives God’s blessing. The outcome of his meeting with Esau is out of Jacob’s hands. But now, clinging to God, Jacob is ready to face Esau, with God’s blessing.
However, as his new name, “one who wrestles with God,” foreshadows, Jacob is soon to resort to his old tactics. After a friendly reunion with his brother, Jacob blatantly lies to Esau. Just like I keep going back to trying to manipulate life with my own hands, Jacob also struggled with submission and acceptance to God’s plan.
Jacob had a heart change, a personal encounter with God, and still messed up. He never fully learned how to be hands-off in a way that honors God. But through it all, God kept every promise He ever made. He continued to pursue Jacob, and bless him and his family. Not just despite his struggles, but during his struggles. God pursues us too, desiring to lead and bless us. He doesn’t want our perfection; he just wants our complete surrender.
You see, when we wrestle with God and choose to submit to him— that, my friends, is when we actually win.
What do you need to surrender to God this week? I challenge you to give it fully over to Him.
The timing. The method. The outcome. We can be hands-off because He is handling it all. Will you trust Him with your future?
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