Recently we climbed into our truck and drove four hours to Toronto to pick up three new Jacob lambs, who had travelled 10 hours to meet us. A quick cup of coffee, a short conversation and then we were on the road again. Arriving at the barn, everyone crowded around to have a look...a sniff at these strangers. Curiosity satisfied, most went back to munching hay. The two girls, Rhonda and Inga were most unsocial, stomping their dainty feet to warn everyone to keep away. Sunny our new handsome little ram looked timid and shy as he was settled into the luxury suite by himself. In time, he will grow to command the respect of the other males in the barn. Like most breeders, I will cautiously introduce him to the rest of the male sheep as young rams have been known to be injured or killed when meeting new sheep.
So one evening, I will place Sunny in a small stall with several other males along with some hay, leaving them to spend an intensely uncomfortable night. In the darkness, they will heave, rub and push on each other until their smell gets in each other’s nostrils and come morning if they continue to fight, I will separate them and they will meet again another night. Our new ram must go through such a night if he is to find his place in the flock and to avoid being seriously hurt. And each time Sunny is separated from his fellow rams, he will return in the same way.
Many years ago, under a starry sky, Jacob without the distractions of his family and possessions, lives through an intensely uncomfortable night with the arrival of a stranger. Throughout the night, they struggle. It is with the coming of dawn that Jacob finally relents and receives but not before he becomes permanently lame-showing the inward scars of his life. It took twenty years to bring Jacob to this place on the edge and eve of his entrance into the promised land. You see- relinquishing did not come easy to Jacob, the Jacob who cheated, deceived and lied. He was a man who at a crucial and appointed moment in time reconciled with his past mistakes. So Jacob goes his way- changed but he will live to struggle again another day. He might be tempted to remember this night as the night he became a cripple but he will also know it as the night that he had seen the face of God.
Like Jacob, we too cannot force God to bless us. It is God who searches for us. We furrow our brows and fight and fuss but in the end, know that God will have His way with us and as we go in the morning, His scent will be all over us.