Let us face the fact that none of us has a perfect life. Each one of us has an imperfection or two that with which we must accept or resist. If we constantly resist this imperfection that we’ll call a “limp” then we can find ourselves becoming a very bitter person, never realizing the reason God brought the limp into our lives and never seeing it as a means of blessing.
2 Corinthians 12:7–10 (ESV) — 7 So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
There’s a man in the Bible who walked with a limp, a limp that God used to remind him and others of His grace. Grace?, you may be asking, let’s take a journey to see what went on behind the scenes when Jacob was about to meet his brother Esau. Jacob who was known for taking things in his own hands and even scheming was about to meet up with his brother Esau who had proclaimed years before his intention to kill Jacob. Therefore, Jacob made all kinds of provisions to protect his family and pacify his brother. After everything about his plan was in place, he prepared to spend the night seeking God which is where we pick up the narrative:
Genesis 32:24–32 (ESV) — 24 And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. 25 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. 26 Then he said, “Let me go, for the day has broken.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” 27 And he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” 28 Then he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.” 29 Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him. 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.” 31 The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip. 32 Therefore to this day the people of Israel do not eat the sinew of the thigh that is on the hip socket, because he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip on the sinew of the thigh.
So, Jacob left his encounter having been blessed by God but went on his way limping because of his hip. What a change in Jacob who had been known for his deception would now be known for his weakness in his limp! With every step, he would experience pain but be reminded of that night in which he felt so desperate that he would not let go until God blessed him. And God did bless him, marking the occasion by changing his name from Jacob (schemer) to Israel (prince with God) and by allowing him to experience the humility of the limp the rest of his life.
What is your limp? We all have one, whether it be an actual limp, or some other form of weakness, pain, or deficiency. Whatever it is, you experience a reminder of your constant need of God’s provision and help as well as what God has given you in the past. So, are you grateful for the limp? Do you allow the limp to move you to greater spiritual growth and maturity in your dependency upon the Lord, or does it move you to bitterness through complaining?
Having a limp was rather embarrassing for me, especially as I carried the weight of finishing 19 Ironman triathlons. In my 2005 “one breath from death – look what God can do” experience, I was bombarded with heavy doses of medicine that caused deterioration of my bones, muscle, and skin. As a result of taking the course of these life-saving medicines, my already damaged knees from an old injury, subsequent surgery, and many miles of training and racing began bothering me to the point where I really needed both knees replaced. My doctor at the time recommended I put it off for as long as I can, so I walked with a very crooked gate and a significant limp. Having a severe limp, although annoying and sometimes embarrassing, really served as a constant reminder of God’s grace in sparing my life in 2005. Thankfully, I have since had both knees replaced but I will never forget how God spared my life in 2005. (You can see the “One Breath From Death – Look What God Can Do” story on my website: www.bobbrubaker.com)
What is your limp? Have you ever considered how God is using that imperfection as a reminder or as an opportunity for greater blessing?
The next scene for Jacob was when he met his brother face to face. It had been years since they had seen one-another, and their departure was after Esau had declared his desire to kill Jacob. Now Jacob walks to meet his brother, but this time he walks forward not with the confidence of a conniver who is about to pull off a trick on his brother, rather he walks humbly with a significant limp reminded of God’s promise with every painful step. What happened?
Genesis 33:4 (ESV) — 4 But Esau ran to meet him and embraced him and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept.
We know that God used the limp as a reminder to Jacob, but no doubt God used it to tender the heart of Esau or to assure him that his brother had been humbled.
Look what God can do with a limp! Instead of fighting the limp, hiding the limp, or despising the limp, consider what God is doing in you and through you as you limp to His glory.