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Watch 2022 online sermons » Steven Furtick » Steven Furtick - Torn But Trusting

Steven Furtick - Torn But Trusting

Steven Furtick - Torn But Trusting

The Lord led me to Genesis, chapter 32, for our lesson today. I want you to find that on your phone, in your Bible, or look on the screen. I want you to see this with your own eyes. I've been reading through the book of Genesis with Elijah and Kelsey, and it has been so fun. We're going really slow. We figured out if we read the Bible this slowly, it will take us four years to get through it. We're cool with it, because every day we're looking for a lesson. When we came to this passage, I knew I would preach it soon because it grabbed me in a new way. It has been years since I preached about this passage. We're going to see this Bible character Jacob in a wrestling match. I reckon this is my reaction to Reflect. I got around all of those women, and I want to preach a wrestling message or something like that.

And I was watching Jordan Burroughs win that seventh championship the other day. That was cool. Look at Genesis 32:21. Let me read you from this transitional verse. "So Jacob's gifts went on ahead of him, but he himself spent the night in the camp. That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two female servants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok". Do you see there how the ford he has to cross kind of sounds like his own name? It's a picture that what he's going through externally is really secondary to what he's going through internally. When we focus on situations we have to get through, sometimes we miss the point. God uses situations to deal with issues in you, and if all you want God to do is get you through the situation, you'll miss the main thing God wanted to do. Then you'll recreate the situation you get through because you didn't deal with the issue that caused it in the first place.

That's what's happening in Genesis 32. I know that because Jacob is about to have a wrestling match, which is the same thing he was doing in his mother's womb. His mother Rebekah… When she found out she was pregnant with twins, she knew it because she felt them fighting inside of her. These two boys, Jacob and Esau (we're going to see both of them in this passage, mainly Jacob), had been fighting each other now for 97 years. That's how old they are during this wrestling match. But it's not Jacob and Esau here. Jacob is getting ready to meet up with his brother Esau because he's trying to get back home, but watch what happens as he's preparing to meet with Esau.

It says in verse 23, "After he had sent them…" All of his sons and servants and wives, Rachel and Leah, and all of the different things he had ready to make peace with Esau. "…across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob's hip so that his hip was wrenched…" I have to say it's a miracle he got to age 97 and this is the first hip trouble he had to begin with, but it took him this long, so he really did pretty good. His hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. He still doesn't know who the man is yet. Probably, at this point, he might think it's one of these river devils they believed in in the Transjordan. They thought when you were crossing a body of water, there were spirits that would come up and fight you.

So he probably thinks he's wrestling one of these devils. In the middle of wrestling, his hip goes out of socket. Verse 26: "Then the man said, 'Let me go, for it is daybreak.' But Jacob replied, 'I will not let you go unless you bless me.'" "I'm going to grab you with these arthritic hands and hold on to you. I'm white knuckling this thing. You are not going until you bless me". "The man asked him, 'What is your name?' 'Jacob,' he answered. Then the man said, 'Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.' Jacob said, 'Please tell me your name.' But he replied, 'Why do you ask my name?' Then he blessed him there. So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, 'It is because I saw God face to face…'" Peniel means face of God. "I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared".

Somebody shout, "I survived"! "The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip. Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the tendon attached to the socket of the hip, because the socket of Jacob's hip was touched near the tendon. Jacob looked up and there was Esau, coming with his four hundred men; so he [got nervous and] divided the children among Leah, Rachel and the two female servants. He put the female servants and their children in front, Leah and her children next, and Rachel and Joseph in the rear. He himself went on ahead and bowed down to the ground seven times as he approached his brother". Esau was a skilled hunter, and Jacob was a skilled cook. That's how Jacob got him to eat his beans and trade his birthright, and that's why Esau got so mad he wanted to kill him.

So, when he's a skilled hunter and you're a skilled cook, you bow down and say, "Man, can we just get this worked out through our words? There's really no need for us to fight". "But Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him…" He wasn't expecting that. "…he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. And they wept". Isn't that crazy? What he was staying up all night worried about God had already worked out when he got there. How many things in your life have been like that? When you actually did it, it wasn't as bad as you thought it was going to be. The verse I want to preach from is very simple. It's in verse 29. It says, "Then he blessed him there". That's what I want to preach to you about today. The title of this message is "Trusting Through the Tearing". Or, if you want to stay in the flow of what I've been preaching the last few weeks about "God's got your back," you could turn to your neighbor and tell them, "God's got you in between".

What an amazing story. What an epic story. Isn't that an incredible Bible story? Let's put our hands together for the Bible. That's amazing. I honestly didn't want to bring this up because it sounds so superficial and the text I read was so deep, but it was so hard for me to figure out what to wear to preach today. Somebody gave me this a couple of years ago, and I saw it the other day. I was like, "I never wore that. I like it. I want to wear it this week". But in the South, seasons are tricky. We're always talking in our family, "What's your favorite season"? Graham says spring is off-brand fall. That's his theory. Holly and I love fall because when we go on our walks… We're so boring in a way, but we love it. We embrace it.

One of our favorite things to do is just crunch leaves and see who can crunch the leaves the loudest. We have "crunch of the day" competitions when we go on our walks. It's very simple. It's a cheap date, by the way, if you want to use it. We'll do that. We walked out the other day. Holly was all bundled up in a hoodie, and I'm laughing. I'm in a tank top because I know… Our driveway is kind of long, so when we were in the shade of our driveway, she thought, "Oh, it's fall". Football is on, so it's fall. As soon as we got out of the shade, she's peeling that hoodie off. We look at each other and laugh, and she goes, "Fake fall". Fake fall is something you may not know about if you aren't in the South. It's when you go outside, and it's 59 degrees. Everything tastes like pumpkins in every restaurant.

But no sooner do you go back inside to grab that cute cardigan you've been saving all summer and waiting for the fall, then you walk back outside, it's 96 degrees now in Charlotte, and it has only been five minutes. It can be refreshing because it can feel hot one moment, and then God will just blow air conditioning, like Gabriel. Just blow in your face, and you'll say, "Fall, I feel you. Welcome, fall". But don't be deceived. Do not be fooled. Do not be dismayed. It is only fake fall. So, make sure you pack at least three different outfits when you leave in the morning. It's fake fall. Oh yeah. Football is on, but it's not fall yet. It's fake fall. We walked past these people the other day, crunching leaves, and this guy says to us in a very northern accent (I'm not going to impersonate it because it might be offensive, because I can't do it that well), "How about this fall weather"? Holly turns to me and goes, "Northerner. Fake fall. He doesn't know. Don't tell him. Don't spoil it for him. He thinks it's just going to stay like this". Fake fall.

Do y'all know what I'm talking about…fake fall? So, I didn't know whether to put this on today, because it feels like fall to me. The kids are back in school. Chick-fil-A has this autumn spice milkshake. But I don't know really if it's… It's an in-between season. It's in between seasons. I'm standing in my closet. I can't figure out which one to grab. I've been waiting to wear this, but it might be… Now, we keep it 57 degrees in the auditorium at Elevation Ballantyne to keep y'all awake, so I'm not worried how it's going to be in the room. That's mandated. To me, there's nothing trickier than in between seasons. It's one thing to figure out what to wear. I mean, I could take this off if I chose wrong, but there are other things in life, the in-between things, that can leave you feeling irritable, unstable, and uncertain, like you're having an identity crisis, like you really don't know which one to go with…in-between things.

The Bible says, and we're fond of quoting, in Romans 8:28, "All things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose". All things. Then it says a little farther down in the book of Romans, in verse 31, "What shall we say in response to these things"? That God has predestined us, that God has called us, that he has justified us, and he has glorified us. All of that in Romans, chapter 8. I am all of those things. I am called by God. I am justified by Jesus. I am glorified with him. I am joined together. I am a joint heir with Jesus Christ. He and I hooked up, and I got everything he has for me when I called on his name. He said he'd come live in me and be with me and wouldn't leave me or forsake me.

So I'm all of those things. Whatever he said I am, that's what I am. Whatever he calls me, that's what I'll be. Whatever he calls me to, that's what I'm walking toward. Whatever he labels me, that's what I live by. I am all of those things…called, justified, glorified. Yet the context of Romans, chapter 8, is interesting, because it talks about the groanings that happen on the inside of us as we wait for our adoption and eagerly expect to be brought into the fullness of what we have the firstfruits of. It's Paul's way of saying we're in between things. We know we're called, but we're often confused. We know we're justified, but we often deal with guilt. We know we're glorified, but we often feel gritty, because we're in between things.

I'm all of those things (called, justified, glorified) because Christ said I am, but I'm some other things too sometimes. I'm some other things. I can be selfish. I can be rude. I can be ignorant. I can be compulsive. I'm getting depressed right now as I think about the other things. The truth is I'm torn. I was torn to figure out what to wear to church today. I was torn to figure out what to preach to you today. I'm torn in this very moment as I stand before you and try to tell you that I'm all of these wonderful things in Christ with all of the reminders behind me of all of the ways I fell short of the glory of God this week. The truth is I'm torn.

That's one of the things about being between things. You can feel kind of torn. Just imagine (I'm not going to demonstrate it) two big, strong guys standing on either side of me today, and one is pulling me here, and one is pulling me there, and here I am in between two things…in between my heavenly calling (called, justified, glorified, right with God), and then my sinful tendencies (laziness, self-pity). I can be a very convincing victim. "It's their fault. They didn't. They should have". I can be a lot of things. I'm torn. I knew starting the sermon this way would be kind of interesting, because I think what people are looking for when they come to church is for me to talk about certain things and to leave other things for Monday through Saturday.

The problem with that approach to ministry is it's what happens in between our Sunday meetings… It will not be sufficient if you write down everything I say today and live none of it out until the next time I see you. It will not be sufficient for us to get a Bible lesson today that, for a few moments, maybe tickles our intellect or enlightens our senses or helps us to know something grammatical or historical about the Word of God. It is what we do in between. I'll prove it from the Bible. "Faith comes by hearing, hearing by the Word of God, but faith without works is dead". So, Jesus said a sower went out to sow. He started sowing. Some of the seed, before it even hit the soil, got snatched up by the bird. Can that really happen? Of course it can. In between the release of the seed of the Word of God and the fertilization in the soil… Even before it could hit the soil, let alone germinate beneath the soil… Before it even had the opportunity to be what it could have been, what it should have been, and what it really was on the inside, something snatched it in between.

So, you have to be very careful about how you spend the first 30 minutes after you hear a sermon. You have to beat back birds the first… The Enemy of your soul, the Devil, Satan, old "Slew-foot Lucifer," that old Devil… He ain't a pitchfork devil. He's a little bird. He's a cute little bird. He comes up as a distraction and snatches it in between. You can't even get to the car and hold on to what has been said, because we don't know how to be bored anymore. We don't know how to sit with anything anymore. We can't think about a word. We can't get out of church and reflect on it for a minute. So it can't germinate, because you don't meditate, because it got snatched in between. How many feel convicted? We just run from one thing to the other, and nothing in between.

Now I have so many games and so many apps and so many distractions on my phone that I have no time for any creativity. How could God remind me of anything? I gave him no space to set up in between my appointments. Our lives are very crowded, because even the Bible itself is full of amazing things that happened in between. Think about that. If we took out everything in the Bible that happened as the characters were going somewhere else, we would have removed some of our best Bible stories, and we would have neutered some of our best Bible characters, like Moses and the burning bush. If Moses had had data on his phone, he wouldn't have seen the bush burning. All he was doing was trying to go to Horeb with the sheep for his father-in-law Jethro, and then he was going to go back to Midian.

In between, this bush catches on fire, and God says, "By the way, you're about to lead a nation out of slavery". That happened as he was going to do something else. If that had been me, I'm very sure I wouldn't have looked at the bush, because I would have been right here looking at something else. The Enemy is good at filling the in-between spaces so you don't even see God. I see this in the life of Moses. I was thinking about (I guess it's my favorite Bible story, because it's the first one I ever preached) how Peter walked on water to Jesus. You know that happened just as they were trying to get from… Jesus didn't set up a water-walking seminar that day. All they were trying to do was get from the eastern shore to the western shore, and they were going to the western shore to do miracles, but they had to leave the eastern shore to go to the western shore. Along the way, here comes a storm.

In the middle of the storm, here comes Jesus, and as Jesus comes toward Peter, Peter is like, "I want to come toward you". Peter comes toward Jesus, and he falls down. Jesus picks him up and takes him back to the boat, and they say, "Truly you are the Son of God". We love that story, but it happened in between. Do you think Mary wanted to give birth to Jesus in Bethlehem? Do you want to give birth to Jesus away from your doctors, away from your hometown? They were there for a census, and the Savior of the world was born. I'm just trying to say that some of the best stuff happens in between. I want to remind you of that.

Some of the best things in your life, while you're so focused on "Oh, when I get through this… When I get through that… Oh, I just want to get to the end of 2022". You've been saying that for the last 47 years. About this time every year, you start thinking, "If I could just get through this year. I'm just waiting for a new year". Here it is fall. "Oh, okay, just a few more months. If I could just get through 2022…" If you could just get through 2022, you are going to take 2020 you into 2023, and 2022 isn't going to kill 2020 you. I got stuck in a trap at one point in my life of just surviving between Sundays as a preacher. At that time, we were doing Saturday night services. (I haven't forgotten about Jacob. I'm setting this up. I haven't forgotten about it, but I'm going to tell you something in between. I read my Scripture. Now I'm going to illustrate. Then I'm going to go back to Jacob.)

I used to think, "If I could just get to Sunday and get another sermon…" Study, pray, beg, plead, offer my children on the altar. "What do you want"? It's a scary thing. Y'all's expectations are really high. Y'all really do have high expectations. "Be serious. Be funny. Be youthful. Be wise". You want a lot. "Speak for God. Keep it real". I'm so torn. If you could see me right now… I mean, I might be holding it together on the outside, but on the inside… So I'd just try to get to Sunday, and then I'd think, "If I could just get through Sunday…" So wait a minute. Your whole life is getting to and getting through, and you are missing so many things in between. "Oh, if I can get this degree…"

What do you think that degree is going to do? What do you think that degree is really going to do? It's going to open doors. What's on the other side of a door? What do you think is on the other side of the door? A massage table? Do you think it's a beach on the other side of the door? The degree will open a door. Then you have to do the stuff they taught you to do that isn't really what you have to do, because they don't really teach you in school what you have to do. What do you think that degree is going to do for you? Somebody shout, "I'm in between"! You didn't shout it convincingly, because it's not sexy. Watch this. Somebody shout, "I made it"! Do you see how much better you did that? Shout this: "I'm going to do it"!

Come on. Shout it from your chest. But that "in between" thing… You didn't say that too good. We don't practice that. We don't practice that in between. We don't really know how to be in between. We really don't know how to be in between. Oh, we definitely know how to think about the future. We know how to, in our minds… I picture Jacob. He's going to meet with Esau. He's like, "Okay. Now, when you get there, give him a first gift, and then you give him a second gift so he won't kill me. You give him a third". He's out there in the future. He's really good at sending stuff ahead. He's sending everything ahead, so he thinks it'll be all right when he gets there. He's sending everything ahead.

By the way, he has come a long way. He just got back from Mahanaim where the angels of God met him, where the angels of God attended to him, where the angels of God showed up. So, he has seen a lot of wonderful things behind him, but now we see Jacob in a very interesting place. He's not in Shechem yet where he's going, but he can't go back to Laban's house either. That's his uncle who he has been living with for 20 years. An angel of God tells him, "You have to get up. You have to go. You have to move right now. You don't have time to think about it. You don't have time to strategize it". The only problem is if he leaves Laban, he has to deal with Esau, and the last time he saw Esau, Esau had blood in his eyes.

Now we meet Jacob in Genesis, chapter 32, and the Bible says the angel of God begins to wrestle with him at night and wrestles with him all night. All night long, Jacob is struggling with something that he doesn't know what it is. This is nothing new to Jacob, you see. He has been practicing this since the womb. He has been manipulating situations since he was old enough to calculate. He has been moving here and moving there and doing this and doing that and scheming things and plotting things. Not only did he steal his brother's birthright, but he stole his blessing too by pretending to be his brother. Now he has to face the one he pretended to be who wanted to kill him the last time he saw him. "I can't stay with Laban, but I can't deal with Esau. I'm standing here needing the help of God".

So God comes not to help him, but to wrestle with him. It's interesting to me that the fight didn't happen when he got to Esau. Esau gave him a hug, and God gave him a broken hip. I'm confused. I thought you asked God to bless you, Jacob. He said, "Bless me. I'm not letting go until you bless me". Let's read the text again. Wow! This is just unbelievable. For everybody who's in between right now, for everybody who's torn between what you believe God has spoken that you really are and what you feel like from time to time… How many of you are in a seasonal shift in your life where it's very difficult for you to comprehend where you're at? I'm 42. How many of y'all think that's young? How many of y'all think that's old? I'm torn. Graham's hand went up so high when I said "old," and half this section… I don't know what's going on over here in this section. Y'all said it was really young. I'm torn. I don't know which one to believe.

Life is tricky because life will intersect in-betweens. So, you raise teenagers, but you're also a tweenager. He's about to turn 15. I'm close to turning 50. Both of us are in the middle of something. I don't know what I'm in the middle of, and he doesn't know what he's in the middle of. So now I'm trying to raise somebody as I walk through something I haven't seen the end of yet myself, and look back at what he's in the middle of while I'm in the middle of mine and tell him about the middle of his and bring him safely through it and not get him killed. And he's stubborn, so when he wants to learn how to drive, he doesn't have enough money to afford a car, but he doesn't have enough humility to listen to me when I'm teaching him how to drive it. (I'm just kidding, Graham. You're so perfect.) He's going to be a great driver. I prophesy it. I declare it. I decree it. I plead the blood.

That's what I mean by "in between". It's Jacob knowing, "I can't stay with Laban," where he met his wife Leah and his other wife Rachel. He married one and thought he was marrying the other. This dude has a lot of problems at night. Jacob needs to put a 9:00 p.m. curfew on himself, because he gets in trouble at night. He went and slept with the wrong sister at night. The Bible is so funny. The Bible says he thought he laid down with Rachel. That's who he wanted to marry. He commits to her father, "I'm going to work seven years so I can marry Rachel". Okay. At the end of seven years, the father Laban slips in Leah, the other sister, who has, what we say, the good personality. Leah has a good personality. Jacob goes to bed thinking it's Rachel, wakes up, and the Bible says, "There was Leah".

It's so funny. This is kind of like that. Everything in the text… Watch. This is what drew me to the text when I was thinking about being in between things. Nobody is calling me the "young pastor" anymore, but nobody thinks I'm an old sage either. O God, what am I? I am not a spiritual, Bible-quoting, tongue-talking Christian all the time, but I'm not trying to cuss people out either and start fights, because I've learned too much to be ugly all the time and know I'm going to have to clean up messes after I make them. So, I'm too saved to be angry and too fleshly to be perfect. I'm stuck in the middle feeling like, "Argh"! If I had the self-control to just pray for people, that would be one thing. If I was just worldly and knew jujitsu, I could handle it that way, but it's the in between.

So, it's nighttime. Jacob is heading to what he thinks is his appointment. He's leaving what has been his refuge, and God meets him in between. The Lord said to tell you today he's trying to meet you in between, and he's got you in between for a reason. Jacob never could have known when he was sending his wives and his servants and his donkeys and his camels and his gifts across the Jabbok to meet with his brother Esau that God was leaving him there, stripped of all of his appointments and accomplishments and affiliations, so he could show him something. He never could have known that. He never could have known while he was wrestling who he was wrestling with. He never could have known while he was wrestling what the outcome would be, but he wouldn't let go. He held on for dear life, and when the angel, the Angel of God, who theologians would say is a preincarnate revelation of Jesus Christ himself…

When Jesus came to wrestle with Jacob, Jacob held on so tightly the angel said, Boop! "I'm going to put your hip out of joint so you can see who I am". That's not very nice. That's not very Christlike, but it's Christ. I'm torn. This doesn't seem like something God would do. Usually, when we hear about God touching someone, something good happens after. God touched the blind man. His eyes were opened. Holly preached about that Friday night. Well, what about poor Jacob? Jacob's eyes didn't open. He didn't get a testosterone boost. He didn't grow hair back in a bald patch. None of this happened. When God touched him… The Bible says something interesting. It says, "He touched the socket of Jacob's hip so that his hip was wrenched while he wrestled with the man".

Go all the way down to verse 29. "Jacob said, 'Please tell me your name.' But he replied, 'Why do you ask my name?' Then he blessed him there". That's important. "He blessed him there". Where? In the place in between where Jacob had left and where he was going. I'm trying to get you to see that God puts the blessing in the in-between moments of your life, and if you are so focused on Esau in the future or Laban in the past, you will not receive what you need to receive in between that will strengthen you for what's ahead. The Bible says all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, but the Bible also says that all things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose.

Now, at certain points in your life, that verse will be tested as to whether you believe it's true. You will experience moments in your life where Romans 8:28 appears to be a flat-out lie. So now you're trying to hold on to a truth you read in the Bible, that all things work together for the good, and you're being held by something in your life that is dragging you into a place of doubt. You're being dragged all around, standing there in between, but in these moments, God wants you to know that in the in-between moments of your life, the truth you've heard, the truth you've received, the truth you've believed, and the tearing you've experienced… These are not always bad places. These are not always moments God wants to deliver you from. Sometimes the in-between place is the blessed place. If all your focus is on getting through and getting to, you will miss the blessing God has in a place called there.

By the time he got to Esau, it was already done. "You can keep your camels. You can keep your gifts". He doesn't need any of it, because that's not where God met Jacob to reveal himself. He met him in between. This is a word… I said I wouldn't do it, but come here, Chunks. Come here, Buck. I have to show you. Now don't pull me too hard. I'm going to hold you. You go that way. You go that way. Not too hard. My shoulder. I'm 42, man. You can't pull too hard. This is a word when you feel torn. This is how you've been feeling lately. Not always. This is a word not only when you feel torn between good things and bad things, because that happens. "Oh, the Devil is telling me to do this, but God is saying do that".

Have you ever been torn between two things that are both good? People make stuff sound so simple when they tell you advice. "Oh man, just focus on your kids". Which one? They don't really get along together, so now I have to be with one of them at a time. Which one? Somebody told me one time (just great parenting advice), "Don't miss any of your kids' games". But then guess what happened. Graham had a game and Abbey had a game, both on Saturday, and the coach didn't call me and say, "Will it be okay? I know you have to preach on Sunday". How many of y'all expect when you come to church that I studied the Word of God and prepared something to say to you? Would you be cool if I got up here and just winged it? Would you feel good about that, if I said, "Speak, Holy Spirit," and that's the first time I looked at my Bible? No. You expect me to be a good pastor.

So, here comes the pull every week. "All right, Lord. I need to study and get something ready". But guess what? My kids expect some things too, and they should. They're my priority. So now I feel pulled… I'm not torn between "Do I abandon my family or abandon my church"? I'm trying to do both of them well, and I'm torn. (Just move a little bit.) Argh! I don't know which one. If I knew which one… Do you know there's a simple solution to this? It's right there in the text. It's what the angel said to Jacob after he wrestled all night. He said, "Let go". Now this is simple. (Did you ever think we'd be holding hands in front of thousands of people? We've been through a lot together.) The angel said, "Let go". It's that simple. Just let go.

So now I'm going to illustrate that and show you why it's not that simple. Which one do I let go of? I'm torn. "Just trust God. Trust in the Lord". "How"? "With all your heart". "That's not what I'm talking about! I'm asking, 'Do I give money to my church or put money in my kids' college fund?' because I think God wants me to do both". I'm torn. (Walk just a little bit.) I'm torn like this. If I let go, something is going to fall apart. I've been preaching to somebody all week in my spirit. I don't know who you are, but the Lord showed me you've been torn, and not because you don't love the Lord, and not because you don't believe all things work together.

The thing about it is you are between two things, and you don't know which one to let go of, which one to grab hold of. You're torn, so you're stressed, so you can't sleep, and you can't ask people for advice because they oversimplify. They say, "Oh, just trust the Lord". I'm trusting the Lord, but I'm torn. I don't know which one. "Let go and let God". Which one is God? Jacob doesn't know who he's wrestling with. It's happening at night. Why did the angel wrestle with him until the break of day? Why until the dawn? Because the dawn is not exactly night, but it's not exactly morning either, is it? He's not exactly in a nighttime. He's not exactly in a morning time. God blessed him there. He's not home yet. He hasn't made it to Shechem yet. He's not back in his family's covering yet. He's in between in the Transjordan. It's not a holy place. It's not an unholy place. It's somewhere in between.

The Bible says that God blessed him there. He's not in Laban's house anymore. He's not in his father's house either. He's somewhere in between. You haven't graduated from it yet. You haven't quite beat the addiction yet. You haven't quite got it behind you yet. You haven't quite deleted it yet. It hasn't quite left you alone yet. You don't quite have it under control yet. You don't quite have it mastered yet. You don't quite have it down yet, and you are torn. I'm free, but I still like it. I'm beating it, but it's still breathing down my neck. I'm torn! He blessed him there at dawn. It's not day, but it's not night. It's not home, but it's not Haran. It's not where he came from. It's not where he's going. It's in between. Jacob held on. He said, "You're not going anywhere". The angel said, "Oh yeah"? Boop!

Watch. I got this revelation out of this verse. I can't believe I never preached this before. Forgive me for never preaching this before, y'all. This is so tender, so powerful, but it slips right by you. It says that after God blessed him there… Okay. "Clean up your life; I'll bless you. Get your act together; I'll bless you. Figure it all out; I'll bless you. Get smarter; I'll bless you. Read three books; I'll bless you. Memorize a couple of verses; I'll bless you. Get to the place you're going; I'll bless you. Get through the hard time; I'll bless you. Get through 2022; I'll bless you. If you make it to 2023, you shall be… It shall be in 2023". That's a stupid New Year's sermon. I won't preach it. The Bible said he blessed him there. Now watch what I never saw in verse 32. It says, "Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the tendon attached to the socket of the hip, because the socket of Jacob's hip was touched near the tendon".

Put your hand on your tendon. I'm not doing this illustration. He used to be a physical therapist. Which tendon did the angel touch? I've been thinking about it all week, y'all. I thought, "Was it the IT band? Was it the gluteus tendon"? I mean, all that tissue it could have been, and the Bible says he touched near the tendon. Do you know what that spoke to me? That sometimes God will touch a place… Anybody can tell you, if the ball came all the way out of the socket of Jacob's hip, he wouldn't have ever walked again. But if the ball came out of the socket of Jacob's hip and the tendon tore, he could still walk, but he would walk differently from then on. I love preaching to y'all. Do you know why y'all are shouting over an anatomy lesson? Because God has been touching your tendon. He touched your tendon. When he touched Jacob's tendon, it didn't mean Jacob wouldn't get there. It just meant he would get there limping.

Somebody in this room today has been torn by life's challenges, and it wasn't always what the Enemy did. The Bible says the angel saw the only way to overpower Jacob was to touch near the tendon. God has had us in a season of our lives where he had to touch the tendon. The tendon is the tissue that holds it all together. The tendon is what connects the muscle to the bone. If the tendon is torn, it may not have any strength to it, but God said you can still get there. You will have to limp from now on. That's not a bad thing. See, Jacob's tendency was to run. His tendency was to run. Oh! I want to retitle the message. I want to call this message "A Trickster Learns to Trust," because Jacob tricked his way all the way to this place in his life. "Oh, bless me. I'll pretend to be Esau. Oh, bless me. I'll give you some beans. Oh, if you're mad at me, I'll run and start all over".

That has been some of you all your life. You have been running from you all your life. Not Esau…you. For the Bible said that when God blessed him, he renamed him. His name was Jacob, but his name was Israel. Which one was it? He's torn. One means trickster. One means prince. Jacob means heel-grabber, because when he was born he was grabbing his brother's heel, trying to get out first. He's not grabbing heels anymore. Now his hip has been touched, and God said, "I'm going to make you Israel, a prince". Israel means prince, y'all. He's going to be a prince. Tell somebody next to you, "You're going to be a prince". (Or princess. Modify it. Be inclusive, everybody. It's 2022.) You're going to be a limping prince, because you're going to be reminded for the rest of your life that you can't outrun God's plan. You can't outrun God's purpose.

If you make your bed in hell, he's there. If you make your bed in the depths of the sea, even there his hand will lead you and his right hand will hold you up. "I'm Jacob. I'm Israel. Which one will I be"? That's what you're deciding every day you wake up. That's what you're deciding every situation you walk into. "Am I going to walk according to my new nature or my old name"? I'm standing up here holding hands with two big, grown, strong men just to illustrate how you have felt in this season of your life…torn but trusting. Jacob lived with this limp the rest of his life. Do you know how I know?

Look at Hebrews 11:21. The Bible says, "By faith Jacob…" That in itself is a miracle. The one who spent his whole life trying to figure it out, the one who spent his whole life running from stuff he couldn't bear to face, the one who spent his whole life trying to pretend to be something else, by the end of his life… The Bible says, "By faith Jacob…" Jacob isn't running anymore. Jacob can't run from himself anymore. Jacob can't run from his calling anymore. Neither can you. God has brought you to this place, and he has put you in between. He stuck you where you are, and he's not letting you go until he blesses you. Do you hear me? He won't let go! It's not you holding on to God; it's God holding on to you. God is going to give some of you a little "boop" blessing this week. He blessed him with a "boop". He said, "Don't run from this. You stay right here. You receive your calling. You receive your inheritance".

You are a joint heir with Jesus. You are that thing. I'm telling you what. Jacob, by faith… Hebrews 11:21: "By faith Jacob, when he was dying…" What? He's standing in between life and death, and watch what he did in between his life and his death. He blessed. Do you see the transformation? He's saying, "Bless me," but by the end of his life, he's saying, "Be blessed". That's why God touched his tendon: so he could walk differently, think differently, talk differently. Can I keep going? Just a few more words. "By faith, Jacob…" He's standing between the portals of eternity and the time-bound frame of his humanity, and he starts blessing Joseph's sons. Who's Joseph? The son who was thrown into a pit, the son he thought he'd never see again, the son he thought was as good as dead. His heart was torn. His coat was torn, but God wasn't through with Joseph. I came to declare: It's not over! You're just in between!

By faith Jacob blessed Joseph's boys, who he never thought he'd see again. This is a miracle. "…and worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff". He never quit limping, but he never stopped walking. You're going to get there. You're going to get there limping. Everybody's tissue is torn. Everybody's hip is out of socket. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Everybody who's leaving this church today is limping in some area of their life. Everybody is torn. This is a fragmented world. This is a fallen world. We are dust, but in these earthen vessels, we have the treasure of God's glory. I want to leave you with this. Even in his dying breaths, his name was still Jacob. He never quit limping. Even as he blessed the grandsons of the boys who would be the nation of Israel, he never stopped being Jacob.

So, do you know what the Lord told me we have to do? We have to trust through the tearing. When life feels like it's pulling you in two different directions and you're not doing very good at either… How many have said this week in your life, "Man, I don't feel like I'm doing good in any of these areas of my life. I'm not doing good at home. I'm not doing good at work. I'm spread so thin. I've been so busy. Oh, if I could just have one thing, I could just hold on to that one thing. I could just be that one thing". Yet the reality of life is not that, is it? It's this. So, the Lord said you have to learn how to lean in the places that you're weak. By faith he blessed while leaning on his staff.

Lord, we lean on you today, not our own understanding or our predictions, not our own pictures, not our own preferences, but by faith Jacob and by faith we. I speak to everybody who has felt kind of distracted this week, and I speak the peace of God over your life to know that God allows these tearings in our lives sometimes, whether it's the tearing of your tendon, whether it's the tearing of a relationship. We use physical analogies, but we're dealing with spiritual realities. The tearing usually isn't limited to the physical. The fact of the matter is some of you are learning how to trust God down a path you've never traversed yourself before. God said that's why he gave you a staff to lean on and a word to hold to.

This is how it feels to be between. It's not quite fall; it's not quite summer. I'm not quite here; I'm not quite there. I'm not quite holy, but I really want to be. God said, "I've got you in between". You're going to get there. You're going to do it. Come on. I'm speaking to you. I don't know who you are, but you've been on my heart. You're going to get there, but you won't be strutting. You're going to be a limping prince. You're going to have to learn how to submit these things to the Holy Spirit. I'm not saying God won't give you victory. I'm not saying some things won't leave your life. I'm not saying you're always going to deal with depression on this level, but there will always be the mark from where he touched your tendon. So when you get there, you will know it was him. It wasn't me; it was him. It was him who did it. It was him. It was grace. It was by faith.
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