One of the many benefits of “daddyhood” are the daily ruthless cage matches that turn my living room floor into a carnage filled war of bloody dropkicks and stomach turning armbars.
Ok, not really.
But I can see the mean and hungry gaze of my opponents every evening as I descend down to the living room rug. A little blond three year old jumps off his chair in the kitchen and screeches across the tile like a Scottish warrior. A twelve month old carrot top takes a more subversive attack mode, crawling swiftly across the carpet floor while huffing and puffing in an unintelligibly excited tone.
The three-year old cannonballs onto my stomach, the one year old goes for the face rake, they both giggle hysterically as their big clumsy opponent grunts in fabricated (usually) pain.
This is their favorite time of day.
It’s their father’s too. Amongst the dropkicks and baby armbars he’s usually able to sneak a few hugs and kisses in.
I’m sure in their little imaginative psyche’s they are partaking in a no holds barred rumble of epic proportions. I mean, they are relentless (and could probably go on all night).
I always think about Jacob and the jujitsu smackdown he had with God. Whether it was just an angel, the preincarnate Christ, or some other divine manifestation, Jacob was convinced he had a face to face encounter with The Almighty when it was over (v. 30) The story always had a certain level of humor to me (Genesis 32:24-32).
God humbles Himself in such a way to appear physically before the perplexed man, and not only that, He allows for a wrestling match to ensue for the whole night.
This is the same God who could fling a universe into existence with the flick of a wrist, or drown a massive army with the drops of his bucket. But here we find Him in a grappling stalemate with a sinful man who deeply fears his own human brother, Esau.
Behold the humility of God!
I don’t presume to know God’s emotions, but since He is Father, I wonder if a sheepish grin of delight ever occurred to Him as He wrestled with His child, Jacob.
And just to remind the kid who was boss, like any good father has to do from time to time, the God-man dislocates Jacob’s hip with the simple brush of the finger. A little tangible battle wound to remind him the cost of wrestling with the Almighty (v. 25).
Despite the pain, Jacob is relentless. Specifically, relentless with his prayer request to God:
“I will NOT let you go until you bless me!” (importunate child!)
God blesses the striving man with a new name and a wiped clean past:” Israel.” For Jacob you have “striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.” (v. 28) Amazingly, God delights in being bugged by His children (Matthew 7:7)! Keep pestering Him beloved, He has commanded we treat this as a joyful full time occupation (Jeremiah 51:12).
I love the heart of a Father who stoops to His children’s level to communicate and bless them.
I love the relentless grip of the child who knows only the gracious hand of the Father is able to supply all his needs.
I love being a dad. I pray my little boys can see through the flawed picture of their own earthly father’s limited love, and see the perfect picture of their eternal Father’s everlasting love.
Such a love that cost the death of His own begotten, where the Father’s wrath on the Son wasn’t imaginary, but terrifyingly real and utterly complete (Isaiah 53). Thank God that through Christ we may wrestle with the Holy One in prayer and not be destroyed.
Claiming the precious name of Jesus in incessant prayer to God is serious business.
We may walk away from the encounter with a new limp.
We may walk away from it with a new name.
But let’s always walk away from it with a new-found delight in the Father who delights to wrestle with His kids.