“…and I will be with you.”Genesis 31:3
Words like this from the Lord tend to become whispers in our hearts and minds when we are in the middle of the raging storms of life. Jacob’s brother Esau was coming to meet him with 400 military men, and his first thought was Esau was coming to avenge his birthright that was stolen so many years ago. His emotions of fear and anxiety took his mind down roads of lies and deception. As a result, he lived up to his name of “schemer” and resorted to what he had done his entire life. Jacob began trusting his own resources and forgot that the Lord had said, “I will be with you.”
It is at this time that Jacob prays one of the most beautiful prayers in the Bible. His prayer demonstrates that he knew how God worked in his life and God’s character. However, there was little belief, and it was a “religious” prayer only. It was like a child telling his father what he thought his father wanted to hear just to appease him. Sometimes we pray like that too as Christ-followers. In our despair, we pray in the right way but not with confidence and not really believing God can and will do what He said He would. Jacob prayed a beautiful prayer but then goes off and implements his own plan in haste.
It is not until he sends his family and everything else to the other side of the river, that he finally finds himself alone. In his solitude, the Lord showed up. It is now the perfect time that God can work in and through him.
God asked Jacob an interesting question, “what is your name?” Of course, God knew his name, but there was a deeper reason for asking it. As brother Wiersbe wrote, “What is your name meant, ‘Are you going to continue living up to your name, deceiving yourself and others, or will you admit what you are and let Me change you?'”
God changed Jacob’s name to Israel and gave him a fresh start in life. “What is your name?” is a question that comes to us all. Are you a new creation in Christ, or will you remain the same, living how you always have? How has that worked for you so far?
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”2 Corinthians 5:17