Monday, August 1, 2011

A Boxer Reads Genesis 32

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 as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” --Genesis 32


We take what we read and hold it up against what we know. Wrestling with God--yes, we say, I've done that, I've questioned God when life didn't go as I hoped, prayed hard, shed some tears. A story is taken as metaphor and lessons are applied as appropriate.

The story of Jacob and the angel is one that can be read that way. Or you could take it at face value.

The man saw that he could not overpower him.

It's dark, Jacob doesn't know who he's fighting, but doggone it if he's going to let go. He's a good match for whomever it is, so much so that his opponent has to resort to unorthodox tactics.

When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man.


In boxing, it's allowable to punch opponents in the shoulder, I recently learned. It'll slow them down and wear them out. There are other moves that accomplish the same ends, but they're a bit dirty. Low blows.


That's what Jacob's opponent pulled out of his hat when nothing else worked.


Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”


And all Jacob wanted was a little respect.


Boxing is violent, people say, and they're left perplexed when the guys punching each other end a sparring round with hugs. I've experienced it; in my first and only sparring session, my girl, after trying to lay me out, threw her arms around me as thanks for a good fight.


It's about the respect. And gratitude for something hard won.


Opponents test each other; they're the only ones in the world who felt what happened in that ring. Boxing, like wrestling, is one on one, and it gets very personal.


Which is why I don't like that this man, soon to be revealed as God or an angel, betrays that intimacy. He purposefully injures his opponent and begrudgingly gives him respect. Wrestle with God and get not a hug, but a torqued out hip?


Jacob limped out of there, satisfied with the blessing he procured. The Amplified Bible translates the new name he was given as "Contender with God."


He passed the test, got the respect, but his hip was never the same because once the sun came up, the rules changed.


Over our twenty years together, my husband has learned that if it ever appears I'm picking a fight, it does not necessarily follow that I'm angry. I like sparring, and I'll fight to the end to defend my point, a person, an idea. Until you beat me. Until you convince me that you're right, you're stronger, at which point I'll concede the win and cheer you on. But before then, I'll hold on for all I'm worth.


For a while there I'd offer to have a friendly go round with God, but he stopped showing up, so I left the ring. Came back to church yesterday and the preacher preached on Jacob's match. He got it all wrong.


I coulda been a contender. But there's no one fighting fair.

2 comments:

  1. i was surprised by how this ended. glad i read it all the way through. thanks for taking me on that journey with you.

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  2. I was surprised where it went, too. Sometimes you sit down to write and the unexpected happens.

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