At our church, the new series is entitled “Breaking New Ground”. It is a series that I believe is a good jump start for the year, and could be a harbinger of things to come in our lives if we pay attention. God IS wanting us to break new ground. Doing the same old things and hoping for different results is crazy. Thing is, breaking new ground can be a very difficult thing for us to do. I was thinking about this while watching a movie and hearing a bible verse quote last  night. The verse referenced Jacob and how he fought with God and left with a blessing and a dislocated hip.  Here is the scripture from Genesis 32:24-27

“After about midnight A Man appeared out of nowhere as if to attach Jacob. Jacob fought Him off because HE did not want to die in his sins before making peace with his brother. The two of them wrestled and fought for hours until just before daybreak. When the Stranger saw that Jacob would not let Him go, He reached out and touched Jacob’s hip, and instantly it was out of joint. Then Jacob knew that he had been contending with Someone with more than human power. So Jacob clung to Him and pleaded for mercy. The Stranger said, ‘Let me go, because it will soon be daybreak.’ But Jacob said, ‘I will not let go until you assure me of forgiveness for what I have done to my brother and promise to bless me when I meet him, so he’ll forgive me too.’ The Man asked, ‘What is your name?’ He answered, ‘Jacob!’ The Man declared, ‘I’m changing your name. You’ll no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, because you have wrestled with me, and I will give you the assurance of forgiveness and the blessing for which you have struggled.’

You’ve heard this story before. You’ve heard it preached before. I know you have, cause I have too! While it’s not been numerous, I have heard the story. Usually it comes from the slant of holding on to God until He blesses us, but now I think there is something new to me that God is trying to show me. And Pastor Gene, if you’re reading this, I hope I’m not taking one of your sermon topics for the new series!

Breaking new ground can be really difficult. We are creatures of habit, and as such, we tend to repeat the same things in the same way. As a result, we find ourselves in ruts without the vision to see our way out. Jacob was no different. His very name meant “One who deceives”. I think he lived up to that name, even as he tried to change. I think that God had been dealing with Jacob as he lived with Laban for all of those years, so that leading up to this time, Jacob was ready for something new to happen in his life. He realized that his newness of life could not truly begin until Esau forgave him for his taking the birthright that was Esau’s by law. Jacob had been in isolation, basically, for years. And this brings us to this chapter in Genesis. As I’m understanding it now, I believe that in breaking new ground in our lives, sometimes we will have to fight for the ground that we intend to conquer. Joshua and the Israelites had to overcome the land of Canaan, before they could begin to settle in it and break new ground for their own crops and lives. Moses had to fight with his own insecurities before God could move him to Egypt to bring the Israelites out. There is this element of fighting that we see throughout scripture. Whether it is physical fighting or spiritual fighting, we must contend.

And so, when God appears and Jacob begins to fight with Him, this is Jacob taking ownership of his life, and fighting for his destiny. Can you imagine this scene? Jacob wrestling with God? Holding on for dear life? Perhaps even getting some punches in over the course of the encounter? I can imagine Go being pleased. He could see a man who was willing to go beyond and do anything in his human power to change, and be a new creation. I suspect that this is one of the reasons why God changed His name, and gave him a new future. He was willing to fight for the right to break new ground in his life.

See, the newness in our lives is not always easy to come by. There will often be obstacles that we will have to overcome to truly see the new things. The comforting thing here is that we have God on our side, and He has promised to never leave us. He won’t forsake us. Even more, He will give us the strength to fight. In many instances, God even fought and won the battle  without the Israelites lifting a finger except to praise Him after everything was over. We should be prepared and willing to do whatever it takes to allow the change in us that God desires to bring about.

So, I guess the questions is, “are you ready? Are you willing? Will you fight?” I’m learning more and more that the Kingdom of God is no place for wimps, those who are unwilling to take a stand, unwilling to pick up a sword, unwilling to fight. If  you are willing to fight as Jacob fought, with the same desperation and determination, then prepare yourself. You are about to break new ground!

Until next time, be blessed!