A few weeks ago, an Israeli man presented a petition in a local court asking for a restraining order against God. He claimed that the Lord had been particularly unkind to him over the last three years. It was interesting to note that God did not show up to defend Himself, and the Judge immediately denied the request saying it was ludicrous.
While I chuckled as I read this account, I also wondered how many people might like to get a restraining order against God. He can be a bit “annoying” at times. And He is relentless in His pursuit of His kids.
Case in point might be the wrestling match Jacob had with God in Genesis 32. You probably remember that Jacob is on his way home to Canaan and not looking forward to his reunion with his brother Esau. Stealing a birth right from your brother might make family dynamics a bit tense.
Jacob intends to spend the evening in prayer, but a guy shows up and engages him in an all night wrestling match. The guy was a theophany (a physical representation of God Himself).
I don’t know what they talked about all night, but I do know that at some point Jacob realizes that he is wrestling with God. Likely they addressed Jacob’s conniving nature; maybe they talked through his relationship with his brother; and most likely God helped Jacob settle his priorities once and for all: God first, Jacob a distant second.
As He dislocated Jacob’s hip, the Lord gave him a permanent reminder of God’s sovereignty. Physically, Jacob would be in pain and walk with a steady limp for the rest of his life. Spiritually, Jacob was far better off after the wrestling match.
You might think that Jacob would have liked to get a restraining order against Almighty God, but you would be wrong. Instead, he begs the Lord to bless him. Jacob finally understands that he simply can’t do life without God on the throne of his heart.
That story ends with God pronouncing a major blessing on Jacob; He changes his name and sends him on his way to accomplish God’s will for his life. The wrestling had a purpose.
And when we have those kinds of encounters with the Lord (and if we are His kids-we will!), we need to remember that they have a purpose too. We don’t need restraining orders this week, we need humble hearts and a willingness to “lean into” what God has for our lives.