Our family of origin is the place where our personalities are formed, and where we are molded into the adults that we become. For instance, I was raised by a mother who instilled a love of music in me, and encouraged me to use my gifts. At the same time, I was raised by a father who was a pastor, and who loved to tell the story of Jesus. I learned from both of them.
Generally, we move into adulthood with two agendas. Our first agenda is to do things the way our parents did things, and the way they taught us to behave. Our second agenda, however, is to react against those things we received from our family of origin that we didn’t like, and certainly have no intention of perpetuating.
How sad that for many of us, we never stop and analyze what we’re doing and where our lives are going. We learn bad habits from our childhood that become destructive ways of living when we get older. And we move headlong into self-destruction believing that the way we’re behaving is the right way to do things.
We’re talking about Jacob today. Jacob and his twin-brother Esau had a rocky and destructive relationship. Esau was his father’s favorite. Jacob was his mother’s favorite. They played out their sibling rivalry in ways that would confound the most skilled psychologists today. Jacob was a little smarter, a little faster, and a whole lot more devious than his brother. So it was easy for him to take advantage of Esau.
One day, however, Jacob learned that he had outsmarted his brother one too many times, and suddenly he had to leave everything familiar and run for his life. Talk about self-destructive! He made his brother angry enough to kill him.
There would be other deceptions, and other hasty exits. Then one night, in a private moment, it happened. Something bigger, stronger, faster, and smarter than Jacob wrestled with him. Jacob couldn’t talk his way out, wiggle his way out, or outsmart his opponent. He limped away, knowing that God had broken his will and injured his hip. Jacob finally learned that God was not to be defied, and that God was not interested in any of Jacob’s smooth talk. He named the place “Peniel,” which means “the face of God.” Once Jacob saw God, he was different. That’s when he got a new name.
Are you tired of fighting the ghosts and bad habits formed long ago? Are you tired of wrestling with yourself and wrestling with God? You don’t have to do it all on your own. And you can’t do it all on your own anyway. Jacob limped away. That’s the price of fighting too long.
We’ll talk about this more today.
What we do here matters.
Dale has been in ministry for over forty years. He's a teacher, singer, and story teller.