Only God can change us….

Sunday morning I had the rich privilege of preaching three services at the Great Bridge Presbyterian Church in Chesapeake, Virginia. The message was entitled, \”Don\’t Let Go.\” The text was Genesis 32:22-31, the story of Jacob\’s encounter with God.

The basic premise of the sermon was that life\’s journey is filled with struggles that only God is able to help us overcome.

Jacob\’s biggest struggle was with himself. He was rich with material possessions; he had a loving family (wives and 11 children); and he had a promising future.

However, there was one big problem that brought Jacob great fear and gave him sleepless nights – his vile history with his only brother, Esau.

Jacob could no longer run from his past in pursuit of his destiny. He was smart, resourceful, and strategic. But none of that could help him now. He needed God to help him overcome with his fear, insecurities, and the plague of his past.

Really, Jacob\’s problem was not Esau. Jacob\’s problem was Jacob.

Jacob was raised to fear God. He spent a lot of time praying. Unique to Genesis 32:22-31, moreover, Jacob had a transformational encounter with God. It was an all-night experience!

One way to think of it is that Jacob\’s encounter with God was a spiritual way of dealing with his past. Jacob needed a new orientation, a new outlook, and a new identity. Only God could do that for him because it had to be done in him.

Do you have situations from your past that you have tried to live down rather than confront? Are there places in your life where you urgently need the Lord\’s help because you\’re exhausted with trying to fix them on your own? You realize that much of your effort has only added one problem to another.

In such moments, we realize we need more than a moving sermon, more than one of those prayers wherein we talk to God and \’tell him all about our troubles\’ – routine morning or evening prayers.

These are times that necessitate tenacious pursuit of God with all of our hearts!

Growing up in the sanctified church, we used to call it \”tarrying.\” Tarrying is when you go all in, earnestly seeking a life-changing experience with God.

Jacob would suggest that seeking God with all of our hearts means to submit to a transformational encounter with God!

Transformational encounters are when God does a work in us, making changes that prepare us for what is ahead.

Let this week be a week in pursuit of God-encounters.

Father in Jesus\’ name, please give us those important life-changing moments. Oh, how we need them, Amen.

Dr. Antipas

Dr. Antipas L. Harris
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