I liked the question box posted next to my daugher's children's Bible version of this story. "Wrestle with a friend for a while. How long until you get tired?"
Seriously, who can wrestle all night long? Is this a dream? A nightmare? And with whom is Jacob wrestling? Biblical Hebrew is never the most precise of languages, and that is certainly the case here. It's all left rather ambiguous. . .and maybe that's a good thing.
Because when is life ever that clear? We’re not sure if we’re fleeing from our families our ourselves, half the time. Is it me or is it them that's the problem? We don’t know if the names we get shape us or we shape them. We don’t know if it’s God our just our own anxiety showing up in our dreams. We don't know if our visions are holy or just grandiose.
Wrestling with these things is a much longer affair than a quick tussle with a brother on the floor. It leaves us exhausted, even hobbled, and -- if we've stuck with it -- transformed.
I used to be very reluctant to name God's action in my life. It seemed grandiose, a little overconfident, and we've all met people who seem waaaay to ready to proclaim what is God's blessing and what is God's curse. How can I ever know if I'm not just deceiving myself? Well, maybe I can't -- except in hindsight. But I'm more willing to tell my story with God as an actor now. Maybe I'm wrong, but I'd rather wrestle with God -- and lose -- than be stuck in a story where there's no possibility for mystery.