by Debbonnaire Kovacs

by Debbonnaire Kovacs
submitted July 30, 2014
This is an excerpt from a devotional book I wrote for General Conference Youth Ministries in 2011. The book was called My Identity…in Christ, and this is from page 21. I don’t know if it’s still available, but if you’re interested, you could contact The devotions were numbered but not dated, so it could be used for any year.
Bible Text: The man said, “What’s your name?” He answered, “Jacob.” The man said, “But no longer. Your name is no longer Jacob. From now on it’s Israel (God-Wrestler); you’ve wrestled with God and you’ve come through.” Genesis 32:27, 28, The Message.
Jacob had been through a lot since he dreamed about the ladder. He’d worked for Laban over 20 years, become very rich in flocks and herds, married two wives, and had at least 12 children so far—eleven sons and one daughter that we know of. Now, at long last, he was headed home with his family, back to where he had been raised as a boy.

Then he heard Esau was on his way. With 400 men.

Jacob had not forgotten how he had cheated his twin, or how angry Esau had been. He was scared! He made all kinds of arrangements, dividing up his family, sending lots of presents, trying everything he could think of to make Esau not so mad at him.

Then he sent his family across the ford of the Jabbok and tried to sleep.

That didn’t happen. Instead, Jacob wrestled with a stranger all night long. After a few hours, Jacob started to catch on that this was no ordinary stranger. Especially when he dislocated Jacob’s hip with just a touch!

At dawn, when the man said, “Let me go,” Jacob said, “Not until you bless me.”

The man asked a strange question. “What is your name?”

Jacob told him, and Jesus (of course, that’s who the Man was) changed his name from Cheater (Jacob) to God-Wrestler (Israel.)
Here’s an amazing thing: Look up every time Jacob prays, and you will learn that in every case he called God “the God of my fathers.” Until that morning. That morning, for the first time in his life, Jacob, now Israel, called God “the God of Israel,” that is to say, my God.

After a long wrestling match with God, Israel might limp, but now, suddenly, maybe for the very first time, he knew who he was.
“Jacob named the place Peniel (God's Face) because, he said, ‘I saw God face-to-face and lived to tell the story!’” (Gen. 32:30, Message)
God who calls me by name, You are the One who sees, the One who knows, the One who names. You know who I really am, down deep. You know what wrestling and striving I have come through, and what wrestling and striving I have yet to come to in my life. No matter who else or what else I am, I always and only want to be Your transformed child, and I never want to let You go until You bless me.