This is the question I didn’t address in this morning’s harangue based partly on Jacob’s nocturnal struggle with a mysterious strong man.
I would have said that Jacob didn’t cede control to the divine being with whom he wrestled all night. He managed to extort a deal – only then did he release the mysterious entity before the break of day. He demanded to know the angel’s name – but that was not forthcoming. What he earned from the encounter was a wound resulting in a chronic limp, a blessing, and a new name meaning “one who has striven with God.”
The surrounding saga yields context and meaning to this particular encounter in Jacob’s journey, but it gives pause to consider what is meant by “letting go and letting God.” Is this oft heard injunction the most helpful to grow by?
Jacob needed release from the tentacles of deception of self and others if he was to thrive. He needed to confront his wound, acknowledge and accommodate it in order for it to become an internal resource by which he would understand a new way of perceiving himself and others. This kind of release can only come with pain and struggle – and it was a long one that lasted all through the night. What if Jacob had “let go and let God” or otherwise ceded control? I wager the result might have been quite different – he could have remained as wimpy and as deceitful as before.