Izzy Jake

God’s chosen nation is named Israel, which might translate, “He wrestles with God.” Why is wrestling with God so important? David Loti examines this question in this week’s vlog “Izzy Jake.”

I am not worthy of the least of all Your deeds of steadfast love and faithfulness that You’ve shown me.

I like Jake. He was a heel grabbing, exploitative, deceiver who lived up to his name, but I like him. Jake was real—an unpolished man in process—warts and all. He reminds me of the kinds of sheep the Shepherd welcomes into His flock and the kind of Shepherd who welcomes those kinds of sheep. Jake was a conflicted man—a man striving to get the blessing he thought he deserved while knowing that such a blessing could only come from outside himself—a man a lot like me.

I am not worthy of the least of all Your deeds of steadfast love and faithfulness that You’ve shown me.

You know those people that seem to have it all together—the ones you wonder if they ever get angry for the wrong reasons, hold grudges, yell at their kids, or do anything selfish? Jake was not one of those people. His brother probably called him Jake the Snake to his face. His dad’s name meant Laughter, but I imagine the tears Jake brought his old man were rarely tears of joy. I’m hopeful knowing that it’s people like Jake who are not only not excluded from the family of faith, but central to it.

I am not worthy of the least of all Your deeds of steadfast love and faithfulness that You’ve shown me.

The night before his famous wrestling match Jake declared, “I am not worthy of the least of all Your deeds of steadfast love and faithfulness that You’ve shown Your servant.” Jake was unaware that the recipient of his message was the same One who hours later would leave him with a limp. I don’t know if Jake limped the rest of his days, but I know his limp came with a blessing, which extended beyond his days, and, after all he had taken from his twin brother, was all Jake really wanted.

I am not worthy of the least of all Your deeds of steadfast love and faithfulness that You’ve shown me.

With his limp and his blessing, Jake also got a new name, which means, “He wrestles with God.” And I like this a lot. I like it that God chose a God-wrestling, transformed Deceiver as the head of His chosen people to bless all the families of the earth. This tells me that God’s earthly ensemble is obviously not an orchestra of angelic harpists—it’s more like a band of gorillas trying to play out of tune classical guitars.

I am not worthy of the least of all Your deeds of steadfast love and faithfulness that You’ve shown me.

The family of faith is so suited for the God wrestlers that it’s our surname. So our questions, uncertainties, and conflicted feelings all signify we’re in the right place—wrestling out what it means to be in relationship with God and each other. Supposing the alternative to a God-wrestling faith is a coach potato-ey, kitschy, trite trust that endorses easy explanations and prescribes answers before difficult questions are even asked, my response is...“Hand me my singlet.”

 

David Loti

 

David is from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He moved to Vancouver in 2009 to attend graduate school, but he's pretty sure the real reason was so he could become Beni's husband. David and Beni are preparing to have their lives transformed when they meet their first child face to face in a few weeks. Aside from creating a list of 1,001 worst possible baby names, they are trying to get some sleep while they still can. David enjoys playing and writing music and finds creative expression a nice distraction from his incessant vocational ambivalence. 

Redemption Church

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