Today you get a picture with your words…a picture from my garden, actually. As I was inspecting my terribly overgrown garden I noticed that an okra plant that I had planted had finally produced fruit. This wouldn’t be odd except for the fact that when I put said plant into the soil it was damaged and honestly looked half dead. For months it’s just been sitting there looking pitiful as it’s surrounded by other lovely plants. I thought as I planted it that I may as well just toss it and cut my losses but I couldn’t bring myself to do it and decided to give the wee plant a chance, but I didn’t hold onto much hope. As you can see, the plant fought through, gained strength, and managed to be quite successful!
I found it rather fitting that this happenstance occurred as I’ve been ruminating over the changes in the life of Jacob found in this passage of Scripture. We know from Jacob’s history that he struggled with a prideful heart and was most cunning in his interactions. Time and time again we see these sin issues flaring up in his life. He manipulates his brother, he tricks his father, he takes advantage of his father in-law, he favors Rachel over Leah. One thing after the other and he is still constantly paying the price for his pride and deceit. We see that even after all of these years he’s still at it. As a matter of fact, he can’t imagine his brother not coming after him in violence so he tries yet again to scurry through a tight situation by dividing his family and flocks.
Little does he know, his life is about to change. At that pivotal moment, as he wrestles with God, a work is begun. No, his heart doesn’t change overnight. No, he doesn’t come out of the match as a fully restored and honest man. Rather he comes out broken and humbled. He’s been confronted with his sin problems and has been given a new name. A name to match the blessing that would come. In those moments with God, Jacob’s life was redeemed. As I look at my flourishing okra plant that has undergone a glorious change, I am reminded of the change that is possible with God’s mercy and grace. Unlike my half-hearted attempt to give that plant a chance, God has provided the ultimate opportunity for change through the sacrifice of His Son. Sometimes we allow ourselves, even as Christ-followers, to get distracted by the struggles we face. How can we humble ourselves and succumb to God’s amazing grace? How can we bring glory to Him even on the days when things feel hopeless and we feel like that wee sickly plant? How can we live not in a posture of pride, but in a posture of service to our great King?