“Grandpa, do I have to go tell Mr. Wyman right now?” Edward asked. “I didn’t mean to break that old mirror. I was just trying to hide from Sammy in the shed.”
“It is best to tell him right away,” said Grandpa.
“But he’ll be so angry, because he said that shed has real valuable stuff in it. I don’t want to go. Can’t Mom just tell him when she buys honey again?”
“So you are scared?” Grandpa asked, sitting down. “Let me tell you a story about—
(From Genesis 32)
Jacob was going home, and he was scared. “Your brother, Esau, is coming to meet you with four hundred men,” a servant had told him just that morning. Jacob knew why his brother was coming. Twenty years ago he had tricked his brother out of his inheritance and had to flee home because Esau wanted to kill him. Life hadn’t been easy for tricky Jacob, but God had given him a large family and much wealth. How could he face his brother now? “O God of my father Isaac,” Jacob prayed. “You told me to return home and that You would bless me. Deliver me, I pray, from the hand of my brother: for I fear him.”
Darkness was coming on as Jacob looked out over his flocks and herds. He called one of the shepherds to him. “Take two hundred ewes and twenty rams and go to meet Esau. Tell them that they are a gift from his brother, Jacob, who is coming on behind.” Next he spoke to the goat herder, and the servants who cared for the camels, the cattle, and the donkeys. Out of each he sent out a group as a present for Esau. “Oh, if only my brother could understand that I want peace with him!” Jacob told himself.
But he still didn’t feel peaceful. He gathered his family, his servants, and his belongings, and sent them over a brook. Fear clutched at his heart as he faced the night alone—yet not alone, for strong arms clutched him in the dark! Jacob set his feet and threw himself at the stranger, struggling for his life. Hours passed. “Let me go, for it is getting light,” the stranger whispered as he bent close. Jacob felt a sudden shrinking in his leg. “I will not let you go,” Jacob cried in desperation, “unless you bless me!”
“What is your name?” the stranger asked.
“Jacob: the trickster,” Jacob whispered.
“You will not be a trickster any longer, but shall be called Israel, which means a prince with God,” the stranger said, and looked straight into his face. It was a look that knew everything, and could make the future different than the past had been.
“I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved,” Jacob said as the sun rose, and he limped toward the camp.
“Did Jacob really wrestle with God?” Edward asked, in disbelief.
“It might have been an angel,” said Grandpa. “He wouldn’t tell Jacob who he was, but he was able to bless him and help him face his brother right.”
“And did Esau try to fight him?”
“No, Jacob’s gifts were accepted and his brother was willing to forgive him.” Grandpa looked at his grandson. “But Jacob had to make the effort to show he was sorry and that he wanted peace.”
Edward knew what Grandpa meant. “But Mr. Wyman will be mad,” he whispered. “I’m scared.”
“Making things right is a hard thing, but if you want it as much as Jacob did, God will help you. You know, wrestling with an angel is like getting on your knees and praying until you know God has answered.”
“Will you pray with me?” Edward asked, in a small voice.
“Yes, indeed,” Grandpa said with a smile.