I wrote recently about my friend Kenai, who had a radical conversion to Jesus and shortly thereafter decided to go back to Texas to finish paying his debt to society and turn himself in to the Sheriff’s department. He made the trip, had a tragic accident with a train, and had most of his foot amputated. Many of you were praying for him and here’s what happened…
Instead of amputating up past his ankle as they had planned, the surgeon was able to save down to his heel, ostensibly requiring a less intrusive prosthetic than originally thought! Wait, it gets better. They released Kenai after only four days in the hospital. The only problem there was that he had to leave the people he was sharing Christ with in the hospital before he was finished! Even better…
Directly after the accident he had called the Sheriff’s department from the hospital to turn himself in. They put him on a temporary bond of personal recognizance until he was released from the hospital, presumably to start serving his sentence in the prison infirmary. When he called them back after the surgery they told him he had no more time to serve and is free to go! He thought, maybe the pain meds were blurring his mind, so he asked the doctor to call. He got the same response. Then the hospital’s social worker called and was told, “Don’t call anymore. His record is clear. He has no more time to serve here!” OK!
Christ Church here wired him the money for a bus ticket and he’s back in San Francisco rehabbing in the Outer Circle house in the Mission!
I’m gonna have to send all of you more prayer requests – you rock! Would it be wrong to ask you to pray that I’ll win the Lottery? You guys pray so good, I would probably not even have to buy a ticket!
OK, back on earth…
Over the phone Kenai told me that he felt that the whole thing was a miraculous blessing from God – even the injury – a definite humbler. “When life’s gotten hard for me in the past,” he said, “I always ran. Now I can’t even walk away, let alone run!”
We talked about Jacob, and the part when God tackled him at Jabbok (which, BTW means “Emptying”) and they wrestled. The match seemed to be going pretty well when the Lord simply touched his hip and crippled him. Jacob, the con man, had always been in charge of own destiny. He conned is dad, his brother, his father in law, and even tried to do it to God. Instead of serving God, he wanted a “Servant God.” But when God hobbled him, his strut turned to a limp and Jacob the Grabber became Jacob the Clinger!
He’d been fighting with God all his life until God destroyed all his defenses and distractions that he hid behind and said, “You want a piece of me? Come and get it!”
As sort of a side note, I hated wrestling in PE because it requires some very close, and usually unpleasant interaction with your opponent. At least in boxing you can keep your distance from the guy you’re fighting with! In wrestling, you’re right up there in his armpit and smelly breath. I always seemed to get the guy that had garlic for lunch and didn’t believe in deodorant!
Anyway, God pulled Jacob right up close to him and showed him what it was all about. You might want to be careful when you ask for a “touch” from God – it might hurt more than you expected. The way God helps us sometimes is to hurt us first. He has been known to lame those he loves to “break their strength” (Ps 102:23).
It was at that point when God gave Jacob a new name – Israel. As Jacob he was a cheater and a runner. As Israel he was elevated to one of God’s favorites, one of his princes! His Jacob-ness had not entirely disappeared yet was diminished, and his limp was a constant reminder of the great day God hurt him to help him!
I know lots of people who have wrestled with God but didn’t have this same result. All they got out of it was a sore hip and went away sad or mad. That doesn’t at all appear to be the case with Kenai. He seems to be clinging to the Lord for dear life like a desperate child with his daddy.
Fast-forwarding to the end of Jacob’s life we read about him “worshipping while leaning on top of his staff” – i.e. his crutch. That’s always the best kind of worship, the worship of the hobbled and humbled.
Pray with me – since you’re so dang good at it – that this is the kind of worshipper that Kenai and all our other friends in the park, Tenderloin, and beyond will become. While you’re at it, pray for me — and for yourself too that our Jacobness will continue evolving into Israelness.