The Most Dangerous Relationship
And God said to him, “Your name is Jacob; no longer shall your name be called Jacob, but Israel shall be your name.” So he called his name Israel. Genesis 35:10
Like all of us, I’ve been profoundly shaped by my life’s relationships. I didn’t pick my parents, but I’m thankful for my childhood and I cannot deny that my life has been profoundly shaped by them. My wife and I picked each other, and I daily thank God for her. We’ve had our ups and downs – the downs being almost exclusively my fault – but she’s truly been a gift from God. I can’t imagine where I’d be without her. And then there’s my children. When we first had kids, I had no idea how much they would change my life for the better. As I said, I’ve been radically shaped and defined by my relationships.
No relationship though, has directed and changed the course of my life more than my relationship with God the father. I’ve believed in him my entire life (thanks mom and dad) and even when I wasn’t following him, he was still directing my steps. He created the world in such a manner that I faced terrible consequences for my addiction, and he’s redeemed that disaster, using something evil for good. I owe everything – marriage, kids, and career – to God. He’s saved me from myself and given me a blessed new life. No relationship has changed me more than my relationship with God.
This is what God can do if we enter a relationship with him, because transformation is his business. This principle is illustrated in today’s passage. In the story, God appeared to Jacob, telling him that he was no longer Jacob. He was now to be named Israel and he was going to father a great nation from whom kings would be born. Jacob wasn’t faultless and he didn’t follow God perfectly, but he did believe in and pointed his life at God, and so, God transformed him, making him into the man he was created to be.
Because we’re shaped by relationships, entering any relationship is dangerous – if we want to remain exactly the way we are. A relationship with God however is the most dangerous relationship of all because it is God’s specific intention to radically transform our entire lives. If we don’t want to be changed, then God isn’t for us. If, however, we desire to become the people we’re made to be, then daily, we must invest in a relationship with God – reading, praying, meditating, and following his will. Only in doing so, may we experience the life, joy, and peace for which we were made.