Beth Moore - The Blessed Embrace
So starting, first of all, I'm going to read to you out of Matthew 21. I want to give you a little bit of our context here. If you'll look toward the beginning of that chapter, you're going to see that this is the triumphal entry. For many of you who are in churches in your local areas, you have probably heard exactly this sermon here recently because it would have been just before Easter. Jesus coming in on the back of this colt, this colt that had never been ridden on before. And them crying out to him, "Hosanna, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna to the son of David".
And then you're going to see that he goes in, he immediately goes into the temple and starts turning over tables, he starts cleaning the place out. There is money rolling everywhere. There are pigeons flying from the pigeons' salesmen, giving him offerings to bring. It is a madhouse. And then right there in that very mess, he does a gorgeous thing. He heals the blind and the lame. And then we pick up in verse 18. So Matthew 21, verse 18 through 22, "In the morning, as he," and that's Jesus, "was returning to the city, he became hungry. And seeing a fig tree by the wayside, he went to it and found nothing on it but only leaves. And he said to it, 'May no fruit ever come from you again.' And the fig tree withered at once".
I want you to just try to wrap your mind around the fact that this is the God man. And often I think to myself, "What would it have been like to be in the heavenly"? It's an eternal glory, fully God, and now you are going to limit yourself, your Godness... fully God is going to be stuffed in about what? A hundred and seventy, 175 pounds of human flesh and bone and muscle and you're suddenly subject to all the things the physical body has to have. You thirst, you've got to have food to eat, and you've got to have rest. And so how annoying to be God and to have to walk up to a fig tree and it's got no fruit on it?
And I thought, "Isn't it interesting that it says it has a lot of leaves but no fruit"? Because I think that speaks a lot about the church today. If I could be so bold, man, we got us some leaves going, don't we? We got us some leaves, but where is our fruit? Because leaves can be really misleading, but Jesus said, "You will know a tree by its fruit". No figs on this tree. So I mean, he just curses the thing and just that's it. "Don't even. And next time I walk past you, you better be dead". And so it says in verse 20, "When disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, 'How did the fig tree wither at once?' And Jesus answered them," look at this, "'Truly I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, "Be taken up and thrown into the sea," it will happen.'" Somebody say, "It will happen". "Whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive if you have faith".
I wonder how long it's been for you. I wonder how many people in this room had really given fully to the thing, but a mountain didn't move and you decided, "Maybe this thing is just going to be about doing the right thing and maybe it's got nothing to do with faith at all". Only the Scripture says over and over again, "Without faith, it is impossible to please him". And this is a call to come back to our faith.
Now, we are not those original disciples, but we are Jesus's followers today. And I do believe in Jesus's name that when it came to obstacles, they got in our way of doing what Jesus has called us to do and being who Jesus has called us to be. Oh, I believe we were meant to have faith that says, "You know what, mountain? I'm really sick of you. I'm going to need you to move. And I'm going to need what is not bearing fruit in my life to just go ahead and wither up and die and let's get on to the fruit bearing". Anybody got that much guts? Let's get on with it. I'm really getting tired of that which is withering and dead, and now let's just get on with the real life fruit bearing. I think that is part of what is at stake this weekend for us. I got to tell you something. I love this about Jesus. I don't know what this will mean to any of you, but I just love how he'll construct time. You know, he's not only the God of time, he is the God of timing.
And some weeks ago, I just decided just of the Spirit, I was going to say randomly, but it had to be him. I just decided, "You know what I'm going to do"? I'd come to the end of something I've been doing for my quiet time, because I tell women to do this all the time. I tell women, "Start at Matthew 1:1 and read all of the way through your New Testament and get to the very last verse of Revelation 22 and then I'm going to ask you, 'Who is Jesus?' based on your reading of Matthew 1:1 all the way through Revelation 22". I tell people that constantly. That is your Jesus. If anyone is teaching you any other Jesus, that is not the real Jesus. The real Jesus is right there in the Scriptures described to you: Matthew 1:1 through Revelation 22.
And so I just decided, "You what I believe I'm going to do"? And so I've just been reading in Matthew, and this morning, so it must have been 21 days ago exactly, I was on this exact chapter in this exact place in my reading early this morning. I thought, "Why do you do that? Who is the man that you are mindful of us? Who is this Son of Man that you care for us? You who put the stars in the heavens, why did you care that it would be this very day that I would be on that very chapter that I'm going to teach this very night"?
I want you to hear it and I want you to see it. I'm going to have it on the screen for you so that you can read it. This is now that same portion. It's going to have our keyword in it, which we're also going to hear in our major translations in just a moment in other passages. But I want you to hear it out of the Message so that you can see the word. So same passages, it's going to be 21 and 22 out of Matthew 21. "But Jesus was matter of fact; 'And if you embrace this kingdom life and don't doubt God, you'll not only do minor feats like I did to the fig tree, but also triumph over huge obstacles. This mountain, for instance, you'll tell, Go jump in the lake,' and it will jump. Absolutely everything, ranging from small to large, as you make it a part of your believing prayer, gets included as you lay hold of God.'"
I want you to hear it now in Mark's version. This is also out of the Message. This is Mark 11:22 through 24. Listen to this, and you can also read the words as I read it to you. "Jesus was matter of fact: 'Embrace this God-life, really embrace it and nothing will be too much for you. This mountain, for instance, just say, 'Go jump in the lake,' no shuffling or shilly-shallying, and it's as good as done. That's why I urge you to pray for absolutely everything, ranging from small to large, include everything as you embrace this God-life and you'll get God's everything.'"
This particular event is going to center around the word in the Scripture, embrace. We are here to be called and challenge to fully embrace this kingdom life, to fully embrace this God-life, to not just keep this Jesus thing a part of our lives and even an important part of our lives, but to let it invade us completely from our skin to our bone marrow. This is the blessed embrace. Now, the Bible uses the term embrace the same way for the most part that we would use it in our common vernacular, in our own English language. For instance, we'll see it, the word embrace, in physical terms that we're going to get to in a moment because that is where we're going tonight so that we can draw a picture of it very vividly so that we're ready for it in spiritual terms tomorrow.
So the word embrace is used in physical terms in the Scriptures in relational terms. In other words, if you said, "I am really trying to embrace my daughter's fiancé". that would be using embrace in relational terms, in philosophical terms. It would be used that same way to embrace an idea or to embrace a way of life. For instance, we have fully embraced social media. We've embraced a life of technology in this Western culture. It's also in spiritual terms. This is where we're going to see a turn that we're going to take with Scripture because this is where it departs from worldly things in spiritual terms, and here's what I want to do. I want to split hairs with you between religious terms and spiritual terms because we got religious terms, for instance, here recently. I'm just thinking of a sentence that I have seen the word embrace used in recently.
Recently, I read an article about an evangelical leader who has now embraced, still as a believer in Christ, the Greek Orthodox Church. He used the word embrace. That's a religious use of the word embrace within their spiritual. And I want to go far enough to work into what is of the Holy Spirit and not just religious. And the reason why I want to bring this up is because when I was a little girl, I embraced religion a long, long, long time before I embraced the Jesus life. Anybody know what I'm talking about? So it's just a kind of a normal part of how we might grow up in the church. I embraced being a Baptist before I knew how to really live out following Christ himself. You could embrace Methodism, Catholicism, Pentecostalism, every other ism and still not fully embrace the Jesus life, and you and I are here to be challenged to come fully in and fully embrace it.
There's a world of difference between accepting and embracing. That's number one. And you know why I can say there's a world of difference? Because do you remember when we saw in Eugene Peterson's translation that he said accept. No, not accept this God-life, not accept this kingdom-life. He said, "Embrace it, fully embrace it". That you and I are living for this time when we look at this world and we think it's such a God-forsaken world. No, it is not. "For God so loved this world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believed in him would not perish but have everlasting life".
Listen, I know this is hard to accept because we know what failures and weaklings we tend to be, but we are proof that God is not forsaken this world. We're still here. We're still here ministering his love to people. And so he's saying there's a world of difference because we are kingdom-living people in a very dark world where Satan reigns as prince of the power of heir. World of difference because I think a lot of people in this room, just like I was growing up, have accepted Jesus. But I'm not asking you this weekend if you have accepted Jesus. I'll probably will ask you at some point. But what I'm asking you is, have you fully embraced this kingdom life, this God-life? Because there is a huge difference between accepting Christ and embracing this Jesus life.
The inner action of the satisfaction, whole different level. It can be the difference between hearing the promises of God and seeing them actually fulfilled. Because he's saying, "Listen, there were things that I called you for obedience to me. You keep saying, 'Why didn't you bring that through?' And I keep saying to you, 'I told you, obey me on this, come and embrace it fully, come and yield to my spirit, and let me do what I've come to do in you.'" It's a whole different level of fruit bearing. We can accept Christ and just bear tiny, tiny, tiny little figs. We can embrace him and our lives bear much fruit to the glory of God the Father. We're going to explore the word embrace in physical terms first because we want it to be so sealed in our mind to have such a vivid picture of what it looks like to physically embrace something that by the time we're moving into something we are spiritually embracing, that thing is all the way down in our bones. It will get it.
Now, I'll tell you what the word embrace means because I love to look up word origins. That the word embrace, it was originally a middle English word that means to encircle, surround, or enclose. It's the Latin word in. The in is the in meaning in just like it means for us. That last part of it is bracchium meaning arm. So the word embrace means in arms. So when you and I are going to study, when we're going to embrace something, it means as far from you as you could reach your arms around and touch your fingertips. When you really embrace something, here it is. Here it is.
So I want you to think in this space right here. If you've got enough room, I just want you to put your fingertips together right now right out in front of you because that, my friend, that's an embrace. So we're going to be talking about what is in the space of your embrace 'cause we're talking about this Jesus life being so close and intimate to us that it is what is held the closest in our arms this blessed embrace. I love that.
Now, let me ask you a question. Almost instinctively, when we have not seen someone we love in a long time, why do we embrace them? I just want you to think about it. I mean, was it learned behavior or is it something innate in us? Because if it's learned behavior, then I'm going to tell you. I have an 18-month old granddaughter that crawls up into my lap, puts her arms around my neck, and lays her head on my shoulders and tries to wind her feet around my back. Now, I've never done that to her one time nor has anyone else. The other day she was at our house, she did that with me. It had been about a week since we had seen them. And she did that with me and stayed there, crawled down, went over to my husband Keith, put her arms up for him, gone up, did the same thing with him. And we knew she was saying, "Man, I missed you". You want to embrace. You want to embrace. It's a powerful thing, something in us.
You know, there are all sorts of dynamics when it comes to embracing. Let me just use a lesser word, hug, for a moment. Because there's always the question of to hug or not to hug? That is the question because they're all sorts of things that are involved in a hug because what we're after is the reciprocal exact same intensity hug. That's what we're looking for. Now, anyone hug harder than the other, but you're always wondering like, "Oh, I hope I didn't". You know, there's this feeling we want exactly the same intensity of a hug. But there's also the chilly hug. Anybody know what I'm talking about? When you hug someone, but they were not glad you did. Now, they put their arms around you sort of, but there was no real commitment to the embrace. It was just a chilly hug where you walked away and wished you had not hugged at all.
You know, there's that hug where it's the non-committal where you go back and forth. "Is this someone a hugger or not"? And this is me a lot. I'm trying to read their facial expression. I met a group of people coming tonight and one of them was pretty new to me. And I hugged all the rest of them and I looked at him and went, "Are you a hugger"? And because I needed to know. I needed to know because where I come from, if we're talking to you, we're sitting on your person. It's just my kind of people. And then there are... oh, this is the worst one of all. There is the one-way hug. Oh, it's the worst one. It's the worst one. It's when you hug someone, I have someone in my life like this. You know, there are people in your life that you can avoid and there are other people in your life you can't. Could I hear a hearty amen from someone? And I have one of those. And I think we love each other, but every time I hug her I get this... I mean, it's stiff and it's awkward and there's nothing going, nothing going. It is the zero-response hug. And then there is the won't-let-you-go hug.
Now, let me tell you how this goes for me because I am a hugger, but I don't want it to be a really long time. Anybody know what I'm talking about? Not really. I'm kind of counting the seconds. I'm sort of into 10, 10 and below, 10 and below. But every once in a while, have you just kind of sort of breaking loose and they're still on? They are still on. And then you go back for the second round because what else can you do? So you're in for the second round, but in the second round I'm always like "Then this should be only about 3 seconds". Really the second round... now, here's what I do. Here's how you know with me. Because if it's starting to get long, I start patting.
Reason why I do that is because it's half as much, half as much. I start patting and in a way that's me going ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one, zero, break. It's awkward. There's a lot of awkwardness that can be involved in it. That's what happens. But as we continue splitting hairs so that our concept will come into clear focus, this is what I want you to know. That a hug and an embrace are not the same things. We're talking about a deeply spiritual concept called embracing.
Number two is this: A hug requires an arm. An embrace takes the heart. An embrace takes the heart. Where our concept is in play, and even when I look up, when I looked at Merriam Webster's definition of it, there was the wording that it is often in the context of affection, that an embrace is often with affection. And you're thinking, "Well, now a hug is two". Yes, yes, yes. Yes, it is. Very often is. It can be the same thing. But I'm saying really to hug you, I don't even need two arms.
Now, if I'm going to embrace you, my arms need to go all the way around. Man, if I'm going to hug you, I can just sort of do this right here and I'll just start with the patting. Just start right here because it's going to go quickly on one-arm hug. That's one thing. That's one thing. All it takes. I don't even have to know you. I've hugged people I don't know all the time. Airports. I love it. I love it. But it's not the same because a hug only takes an arm, but an embrace takes the heart. An embrace is a way of putting your hearts together. Because we can hug something that we don't want to bring into this because we're going to be heart to heart and chest to chest with what we embrace.
All right, what we're gonna do for the next 30 minutes of our lesson is look at 3 different places in the Scriptures where we're going to see a physical embrace. Let me remind you what concept is in play as we introduce it because we're gonna try to look... so often, if we can look in literal terms, if we can see something in a physical context, and then by the time we then need to move into what it means to embrace this kingdom life, to embrace this God life, to embrace this Jesus following where it is the closest thing in our arms, where we are following Jesus so closely that, literally, when he's steppin' a foot forward, we're doin' it right behind him because you know what? We got him right here. We got him right here.
And by the time we get there, we'll know what's in play. So, three different places. I've gotta tell ya, we're gonna spend the most time on the first one and just a little time on the second two because they're three different contexts, three different ways of doing it, three different reasons why they're embracing, and I think you're gonna love it. Turn with me to Genesis 32 and 33. That's where we're gonna start. Now, I'm gonna have to do for the sake of a time a good bit of supplying the story, and these are such rich stories that you're gonna wanna take your time with 'em if you're not familiar with them because I'm not gonna be able to do justice to them.
These are different segments of Scripture we could spend all weekend on and still not get to the bottom of 'em. But I want you to see, and for our purposes, we're gonna land on the narrative involving Jacob. There are three major patriarchs that are in the book of Genesis: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Jacob is the grandson of Abraham. He is the son of Isaac. Isaac and Rebekah had twin sons. Esau was the firstborn. Jacob was the second-born, and Jacob was literally born into this world grabbing his brother's heel. So his name was Jacob, "The heel grabber". It is a name that means "the supplanter". It is a name that means "the cheater". It is a name that means "the deceiver".
And, boy, does he live up to his name. And he ends up cheating his big brother not only out of his birthright, but then out of his father's blessing to the firstborn son. And they've had to go two different directions, or one of 'em was probably going to do damage, if not kill the other. So, Jacob has had to go to another relative's house where he has fallen in love with a woman, then been tricked into marrying her sister before he ever marries her. Now, let me tell you something. Sometimes when God has in mind to cure us, he will give us a taste of our own medicine. Can I have an "Amen" from anybody in the house? Anybody realize that what you really could not stand in somebody was what you saw in yourself? That's a treacherous way to learn, when you're starin' at yourself and somebody you can hardly stand, and, boy, I have been there.
So this is Jacob. Now, before we get to the embracing part, I need to talk to you about the bracing part. Because remember that word that is that "bracchia" word that means "the arm". If you saw the word "brace" and you saw the word "embrace," what is the difference between the two? Well, both of 'em take the arms, so all bracing needs is the arms. It doesn't anything in it. It just needs the arms. So, if I were gonna brace myself, there are a couple of different ways I would do it. Like, I would hold back like this or I would hold like this. If I saw an accident coming, if I knew I was about to hit something, I would brace myself against the steering wheel, and press my foot into that brake. I would be bracing myself.
So I want you to make the contrast tonight between bracing and embracing because before we see the embrace, we're going to see the brace. Because here's what's about to happen. Jacob is now going to leave with his family. He's gonna leave Laban at Laban's house and he is gonna go on to his own land where he is supposed to be, taking all his people with him, only, he knows he's got to go through his brother's land first. It's been 20 years since they've seen one another. All this time for vengeance and revenge and all this hatred and bitterness to grow, and Jacob knows he's about to travel through his brother's land, and he is about to take his life into his own hands. And, boy, do you have somebody bracing himself for it because here's what happens.
And I wanna read you this little portion right here. Genesis 32, pick up with me at verse 3: "And Jacob sent messengers before him to Esau his brother in the land of Seir, the country of Edom, instructing them, 'Thus you shall say to my lord Esau: Thus says your servant Jacob, I have sojourned with Laban and stayed until now. I have oxen, donkeys, flocks, male servants, and female servants. I have sent to tell my lord, in order that I may find favor in your sight.'" Well, when they come back, it says in verse 6, "They return to Jacob, saying, 'We came to your brother Esau, and he is coming to meet you, and there are four hundred men with him.' And Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed. He divided the people that were with him into two flocks, all the herds, camels, into two camps, thinking, 'If Esau comes to one camp and attacks, then the other camp that is left will escape.'"
Then we see Jacob do something really wonderful. He prays, and he prays, "God," I mean, essentially, I mean, "protect me. Protect me, just by your own goodness, protect your servant. You told me you would be with me, protect me". But then he does what we so often do. We pray, and then we scheme. We pray, and then we scheme. We pray, and then we scheme. So, he's already prayed, but just in case, he better back it up with a plan. So he starts putting together this huge gift, all these animals, everything you can imagine. He starts preparing this huge gift that he might appease his brother. So, now, he's gonna buy back, "If I bring him all these gifts, maybe he won't do anything". Look with me. It says in verse 20, same chapter, 32: "And you shall say," "when you see Esau," he's tellin' his servants ahead. "'Moreover, your servant Jacob is behind us.' For he thought, 'I may appease him with the present that goes ahead of me, and afterwards I will see his face. And perhaps he will accept me.'"
There's our word because we already learned, accepting and embracing, world of difference between the two. "So the present passed on ahead of him, and he himself stayed that night in the camp". Well, if you know anything about the story of Jacob, you know the story of Jacob wrestling with the Angel. All by himself, and this mysterious one comes to him and wrestles the night through with him.
And it says, as he wrestles with him, pick up with me at verse 24: "And Jacob was left alone. And a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day. And when the Man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob's hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. And then he said, 'Let me go, for the day has broken.' But Jacob said, 'I will not let you go unless you bless me.' And he said to him, 'What is your name?' And he said, 'Jacob.' And then he said, 'Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and you have prevailed.' And Jacob asked him, 'Please tell me your name.' But he said, 'Why is it that you ask my name?' And there he blessed him".
And this is how we know that he believed it to be God. Verse 30: "So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, 'For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.' And the sun rose upon him as he passed that place, limping because of his hip". "What is your name"? "Jacob, heel grabber, cheater, deceiver, liar". "Your name shall no longer be Jacob, for it shall be Israel, and it's a name that means 'he struggles with God.'"
You know what happened in that place I think? I think what happened there is it was Jacob's first honest fight. He had fought dirty all his life, and that was his first honest fight, and he wrestled, and he wrestled, and he wrestled. And when the Angel of God could see that he was not going to quit, he just touched his hip socket. That's all there was to it, and it popped out of joint. And he blessed him with a brand-new name because he had wrestled honestly. And I've been thinking here lately, there's a little bit of Jacob in all of us, isn't there? And sometimes God will lead us through a wrestling match so that he can wrestle out that deceptive part of us and bring out the one willing to wrestle honestly and truthfully.
Colossians 3:9 and 10, it's just gonna spit it out to us, as the Apostle Paul as a mind to do: "Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its Creator". "Do not lie to one another". Because here's how it goes. In the most familiar conversation of all, "Hey, what's wrong"? What is always our answer? "Nothing". And there's never nothing wrong, never nothing. And I wanna tell you somethin'. Somehow we've got it in our heads that our simmering resentment is godlier than our deception, and we are refusing to deal with conflict in our minds for the sake of the relationship. And so, instead of wrestling through it, we just lie.
Do you remember back there with that Colossians passage where it said, "Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices"? Practices, that's a key word there because, listen, nothing is harder for us to see in ourselves than our practices because what makes practice practice is that it's taken a lot of practice. And so we've practiced it so much that it's hard to recognize because it's just like in there. And I wanna submit to you today that all of us in this room have certain relational practices, the way we practice relationship. And for some of us, I would be so bold to say, unless we've dealt with our inner Jacob, because the Bible says, "The heart is deceitful above all things".
So, unless we've dealt, almost certainly we have deceptive relational practices. To come to a place to walk in truth, even to the degree of, "You know what? There is somethin' wrong. But I'm not ready to share it right now". Or, "Maybe there is somethin' wrong, but you know what, baby? It has nothin' to do with you". Every now and then, if Keith just stays at me, I'll go, "Baby, the thing of it is, I'm not upset with you, but if you keep at it, I'm gonna think it is you, and it's not, it's not. Run for your life. Run for your life". Because I think there's some dishonesty that's just unraveling our relational capacity, and I think that it's possible that, for believers, it may even be a stronger tendency because we'll think, "For the sake of the relationship, I better lie". And we can't be close to someone we keep lying to. And if we can't bring our honest selves, somethin's wrong with that relationship.
Genesis 32:22 through 31 talks about Jacob wrestling with the angel. Then we got him walkin' off with a limp, and then we start at 33, just four verses. He's braced himself all this time, braced himself all this time, braced himself all this time. Only now, only now, God is going to let him deal with an old conflict as his new self.
Okay, listen to me because I think somebody here is gonna have some newness put in them this weekend, and you're gonna have to go back and deal with an old situation, but not as your old self, but with our renewed self, with our renewed mind, with our renewed confidence, with our renewed authenticity. It says, "And Jacob lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, Esau was coming, and four hundred men with him. So he divided up the children among them, Leah and Rachel and the two female servants. And he put the servants with their children in front, then Leah and her children, and Rachel and Joseph last of all. Then he went on before them". Oh, suddenly, suddenly he's in front. Somethin's happened to him in that wrestling match. "Bowing himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother. But Esau ran".
I want you to get this picture because here's Jacob, limpin', limpin', bowin', limpin', bowin', limpin', bowin'. And here's Esau, runnin' full speed ahead. "And Esau ran to meet him and embraced him and fell on his neck and he kissed him, and they wept". All that bracin' himself. Do you see the contrast between the two brothers? One bracin' himself, and the other one goin', "My brother, my brother". What a picture of reconciliation. Don't you think that it's true that it's a lot harder to demonize somebody once you see 'em face to face again? Oh, we hadn't seen them in years. And, I mean, in our minds, they have grown horns. They have, like, all these, like, red, purple veins all over their face. They've, like, grown fangs. And, I mean, and we've got 'em saddled with everything they've ever done wrong. It is everything they are. And then we run into 'em at an airport, run into 'em in an unexpected place, and maybe, maybe, maybe we touch them, and they're warm. And maybe there's a bruise on 'em, and they actually bruise when they get hurt. Bones break, hearts break.
Isn't it something that, when Esau embraced Jacob, they both cried? Sometimes I don't want somebody to touch me when I'm upset 'cause I don't wanna cry. Every now and then, I'll tell somethin' to my staff, and I'll want them to stand back while I'll tell 'em. "And you can pray over me, but don't touch me". Because I know if they touch me, I'm gonna dissolve. Anybody know what I'm talkin' about? 'Cause there's somethin' about it. There's somethin' about it. Listen, don't think for a minute wrestling with God is not a form with intimacy. When you're wrestling with somebody, you're face to face with 'em, and you're touchin'.
Listen, I have a feeling that one of the most important reasons God has brought us into this place is that a whole lot of us in this room have been wrestlin' with God about something, and he's gonna take that wrestling to a full embrace. And you may think, "Well, I'm gonna embrace him. It's gonna go from wrestling to embrace as soon as I understand". Well, you know what? There was nothin' about that scene that Jacob understood. It was so mysterious. He just knew, "You are great and glorious with the power to bless and with the power to change what I am called and how I walk". Sometimes we have to wrestle our way to a real embrace. Maybe you've been callin' your wrestling with God how mad you are. Maybe you are. But do you know that it's not a bad thing to actually wrestle with him? It's not bad. Man, you're close.
Have you ever wrestled with anybody you weren't close to? I mean, you're touchin', all right. Maybe, maybe it was his own form of intimacy. I want to read these words out of Acts 20, verse 36 through 38: "And when he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all. And there was much weeping on the part of all; and they embraced Paul and kissed him, being sorrowful most of all because of the word he had spoken, that they would not see his face again. And they accompanied him to the ship". See the difference between that and our portion about Esau and Jacob? A greeting embrace, Paul and the elders, a goodbye embrace.
When Amanda and Curt were moving to England for five months to do mission work... I'm very, very close to my daughters. They are my very best friends. And when it was the day that they were to go the airport and I would not see her again for all of these months, she said to me so loving that morning, with her hands on my arms, "Mom, Daddy's gonna take us to the airport". And I knew why. And she said, "You and me, we're not gonna be able to take this". She said, "I'm gonna say, 'Bye,' to you right here," a goodbye embrace.
Then there's this other kind of embrace 'cause I want you to have all three of these in your mind. There's this portion at the very opening of the book of Ruth. You might know the story. Naomi is the mother of two sons, two grown sons. Naomi and her husband has lived in Moab because they had been in the land of Judah, Jews. And there had been a great famine, and they'd moved where the food was. And their sons had come into adulthood, and they had taken Moabite wives. Well, Naomi's husband dies, then both the sons die. And so Naomi says to them, "I'm going back home. There's food back home. I'm gonna leave you here, and I'm gonna say, 'Goodbye,' and both of you go".
Only, one of 'em does what she says, and the other one... I wanna read just this little portion to you out of The Message, where it says: "They cried openly. Orpah kissed her mother-in-law good-bye; but Ruth embraced her and held on". You know what I'm talkin' about? When they got their leg around you. There is this, "You ain't goin' anywhere without me," embrace. Sure enough, she has to take her because what do you do with someone wound on your person? "Where you go, I go; where you live, I'll live. And your people will be my people, your God is my God; so help me God". Embrace. Jesus, where you go I am going. If it kills me, I am going. Your people shall be my people, whether I like them or not. Because this is the, "Ain't letting you go," embrace.