I turned away from God, but then I was sorry. I kicked myself for my stupidity! I was thoroughly ashamed of all I did in my younger days. (Jeremiah 31:19)
For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus. He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. (1 Timothy 2:5-6)
Relate: Everybody called her fie-fie. The nickname started when she was still a baby. Her parents strung two pacifiers around her neck because she, or rather they, kept losing the things. Since her real name is Tiffanie, it seemed to stick. What could she do? The poor girl had earned her nickname thanks to her parent’s actions.
Jason had earned his nickname all by himself. Everyone in college called him Scoop. You see, he had a really big dog that he would take walking. Apparently they have these contraptions you use to clean up the yard or sidewalk or… whatever, when your dog makes a mess. Apparently he stopped and was talking to a friend one day after picking up some, leftovers, and forgot he was holding this contraption. Apparently he didn’t notice that, as he was talking, the contraption was brushing up against his leg. Eventually he did notice it but it was too late while in the middle of his class to do a thing about it. By then everybody else had noticed it too. No way anybody in college is ever going to let you shake such a well earned nickname.
Jacob couldn’t shake his name either. Although it was a name he was literally born with, he also proved he earned it when he tricked his brother out of his birthright and then tricked his father into giving him the blessing. Even worse, his nickname was infecting everybody around him. His mother became his ally in tricking dad. His uncle tricked him more than once both in wedding arrangements and in salary. Then his wife goes and tricks his father-in-law when she steals his idols. Jacob tried to outrun his nickname but, like a bad habit or a lingering sickness, he just could not shake it off.
Now his bridges have been burned. His options have run out and a victim of one of his tricks is on his way to “meet” him with four hundred “friends”. Jacob tried to buy him off. He tried to bribe his way out, but the brother who promised to kill him the next time he saw him was still coming steadily, unflinchingly onward. Reckoning was coming. What turned out to be the best night of his life must have started out as his worst.
React: What have we been running from? Has a name or a reputation stuck to us and instead of trying to deal with it, we flee? We’ve been burned. We’ve been embarrassed. We’ve failed or been caught in sin. So now we run, but it seems like we just can’t shake our past. Running never works. It might seem like it does for a while, but if we run once, we will just have to run again… and again… and again. Soon, we will be out of places to run to. Like Jacob, we will have to do that thing we should have done right since the start.
That night Jacob wrestled with God. Instead of turning and running he held on and refused to let go. If you have a reputation that has stuck to you from the past, fight it. Prove that you are not the same person anymore. Confront it, don’t run from it. Running only proves the labelers right. If there’s a sin or a habit that has grabbed a hold of your life, running won’t help. Grapple with God and keep fighting until He makes you new.
God, set me free from the chains of my past. Give me freedom from the reputations or the failures or the expectations others have, justly or unjustly, placed on me. Even more, free me from the labels and the reputations I have given myself that limit what You can do through me. You know the names I’ve given myself. You know the limits I’ve set for myself. I’m tired of running from them. I’m tired of giving up and trying to start over. Help me to wrestle with You for as long as it takes. Set me free. Shake them off.