Summary: In order to find out who we really are we need to ask God who He is!
September 9, 2007
Text: Genesis 32:22-32
Subject: Jacob Wrestles with God
Title: Who Am I – The Quest for Identity
Who are you? Sounds like a simple question doesn’t it? Most of you would answer that by telling your name. But the question is not, “What is your name.” The question asks, “Who are you?”.
“Well, I’m a Christian.”
I’m not asking what you are (though that may be part of what I am looking for) but the question is, “Who are you.”.
“I’m a plumber!”
I’m not asking what you do – I want to know who you are.
And we could go on and on. The answer to the question may not be as simple as you would think. You may not even know who you really are.
Mark Buchanan, in his book The Rest of God, tells the story of a man who took two weeks to walk in silence and solitude in the Highlands of Wales.
He kept company with stones and fields and cold starry nights. At first, the journey was a reprieve, a needed break from his life’s clutter and scatter. But around the fourth night, something shifted. He grew terribly afraid, but not of wolves, ghosts, brigands, or storms.
He sensed something shadowy and naked stalking him, edging ever closer.
He was afraid of himself.
Solitude unlatched a cellar in him, someplace where memories and longings and fears lay buried, locked up so long he’d almost forgotten them. Aloneness loosed them.
“I thought I’d gone mad,” he said. “I felt I couldn’t escape. I feared sleeping. I feared waking. I dreaded daytime and nighttime. I wanted to get as far away from myself as I could.”
But he had nowhere to hide. After many days he began to see things he had not seen for years, some for a lifetime. He saw how he avoided closeness with other people, the subtle way he sabotaged this and made it look as if the other persons were to blame. He saw how he had become busy as a way of eluding his sense of emptiness and insignificance. He saw that all his many accomplishments had never removed from him a primal fear that he was a fraud – and soon to be exposed.
At the end of two weeks, he knew himself in a way he had never imagined. “It was as if I met myself for the first time. I felt I returned from that two weeks with a soul mate. Of maybe I just returned with a soul.” (p. 203)
Let me ask again, “Who are you?” Today I want to take you on a journey with Jacob as he comes face to face with the reality of who he is, and I want to challenge you to begin to ask yourself the same question. Open your hearts to receive a special revelation from the Lord today.
I. THE OUTWARD APPEARANCE OF A MAN You really can’t get a feel for who Jacob is just from this story in his life. For if you look at him now what you see is a very successful business man with an abundance of possessions, a happy family and lots of employees. On the surface it looks like Jacob has everything going for him. On the surface it looks as though he is genuinely concerned about the safety of his family. On the surface it looks like he wants to reconcile with his brother. On the surface it appears that he has thought everything out, has a plan in place, and is ready to move forward with his life. But the reality is that he is so obsessed by his past that he just doesn’t know what to do. To understand how Jacob got here you have to go back to the beginning of the story. In Genesis 25 we see the story of the birth of Esau and Jacob. (The name Jacob means, “he grasps the heel”; literally, “he deceives”.) Here’s how Jacob started his life – with the promise that God’s blessing would be upon him. 23The LORD said to her,