That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two female servants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.”
But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”
The man asked him, “What is your name?”
“Jacob,” he answered.
Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”
Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.”
But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there.
So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.”
- Genesis 32:22-30
So the two women went on until they came to Bethlehem. When they arrived in Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them, and the women exclaimed, “Can this be Naomi?”
“Don’t call me Naomi,” she told them. “Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The Lord has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.”
So Naomi returned from Moab accompanied by Ruth the Moabite, her daughter-in-law, arriving in Bethlehem as the barley harvest was beginning.
- Ruth 1:19-22
“In verse 27, God asks Jacob, ‘What is your name?’
“Obviously God knows the answer to that one. He’s not drawing a blank – He’s God.* (*You’ll never hear God calling people buddy, pal, bro, or dude because he can’t remember a name.) But Jacob doesn’t answer the question. Why?
“I think I know. I think he’s ashamed of his name. He knows what it means: cheater, scoundrel, manipulator, conniver. At that time in history, a name was especially significant. It was more than what people called you. A name was who you were. … It revealed his character. …
“His life has reinforced that label, so that to hear his name was to be told his sins. But in verse 28, God changes that name to something beautiful: Israel, ‘God Strives.’”
- Kyle Idleman, Don’t Give Up
Yesterday… Not really. Yesterday’s post was on making excuses, but I really wrote it two days before writing this, that is as of the time of writing this post. I did a few preparation things yesterday, but I did not write a post the day before writing this. It was day of doctor visits and grocery / pharmacy shopping instead. A day to go brain dead for a little while, hitting the reset button. But, as usual, I try to stay ahead of schedule, just so that I am not rushed when I have a day of tending to other things, like doctor visits and the needed shopping.
A little about names that change. Jacob was changed to Israel and the quote from Don’t Give Up by Kyle Idleman gives a good explanation. Naomi was despondent when she returned from Moab. She left Judah with a husband and two sons. She returned a widow with a Moabite daughter-in-law. Naomi wanted her name, meaning ‘pleasant,’ to be changed, but once redeemed by Ruth marrying Boaz, she may not have been so willing to change her name. The point of the Naomi story illustrates what Kyle Idleman was talking about. Names in those days were descriptive, not just a name.
But the title of the book is Don’t Give Up. The previous evening post was talking about excuses. The one thing that we should give up is excuses. We must continue to strive, to press on until the work is done.
I enjoy watching David Wesley’s music videos. I subscribed to his channel and found a lot of videos that I had not seen. One was David Wesley talking about how he got to the point where he was. He is a nurse, but he had always loved music and tried to get into a worship band at his church. He was told that he was not good enough, no experience, not polished, not professional. He could have claimed prejudice. He could have gotten angry, and maybe he did a little. He could have pouted, but his way of “pouting” was to go to his quiet room and sing. He loved singing. It relaxed him. It was his way of coping with rejection. And as he sang, he decided to record, and then mix, learning the skills he needed along the way. And along the way, his skills improved. Another church needed a music leader, and the story continues.
Instead of “demanding his rights” or getting angry or lamenting without purpose, he found a constructive outlet for his frustration, and praising God in the process. His Youtube channel has over 203,000 subscribers, and his history of worship music has views into the millions.
David Wesley did not give up and neither should anyone who has God in his heart. We have power within us to keep going.
And when we are mocked or even more harshly persecuted for our beliefs, we should take heart that others noticed God within us. It should motivate us rather than offending or discouraging us. Will you cower in a corner or will you grab onto God and not let go until He blesses you?
It is your choice to be offended or motivated.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.