By continuing your visit to this site, you accept the use of cookies. These ensure the smooth running of our services. Learn more.

Limping in the light of the LORD

I have been re-reading the accounts of Jacob's two dreams/visions/encounters with God in readiness for the act of worship I'm due to lead next week.  What struck me was the end of the encounter at Peniel where Jacob-Israel walked into the future with a permanent limp a reminder that he had wrestled with God.  I found this unexpectedly helpful! 

To wrestle with God - if not literally - seems to me to be a fairly normal part of Christian dicipleship: what is God saying?  Must it really mean this or that, am I strong enough to face this or that challenge, and so  on and so on.  Jacob emerged from his encounter both stronger and weaker: as a person he grew (let's face it, he probably needed to!) yet he was permanently weakened by his injury.  There have been times when I've argued with God a lot, and times when I've thought 'hey, you'll win anyway, I'll just give in now."  Both can, at times, be the right response, I think.  But I am attracted by the image of the wounded disiciple, the person whose encounter with God leaves them with a limp.  I'm not quite sure what to do with this image, but it does seem a helpful one as I think about the various challenges facing my little congregation at this time.  



  • I think most of us bear the wounds - something Paul wrote about a fair bit. In the light of the scars that are borne in heaven ('those wounds yet visible above'), Jacob makes an appropriate ancestor in the faith.

    After you've preached, you could always break out the Green Hymn Books and sing 767 to the tune 'Wrestling Jacob'. See the last verse.

  • Good job I have some green books then...

    How come you even know this one?! Obviously missed out somewhere in my education. Not entirely sure how 'upon my thigh [to] halt' though. At eight verses it's maybe a tad long for 21st century congregations...

  • A tad long even for Dibley+1 (no stamina these youngsters!). And it is marked for personal use, so I never chose it - though in extensive searches for suitable green book material the page often fell temptingly open at this section. Being one of Mr Wesley's original compositions I suspect this is the edited version.

    'Halt' I think is Cockney rhyming slang going back to the days of the Blitz: 'halt the blimp' = 'limp'. Halt presumably as in halter. Just issue the congregation with a glossary of difficult terms and teach them to exegete the hymns as they work out the tune; they'll be fine.

  • halt - to walk with a crippled gait; limp; hobble.
    It goes back to pre Tudor times. Those of us elderly folk who were nurtured on the King James Version learned in Sunday School the verse in 1 Kings 18:21 "And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word."
    I remember my late father preaching on this text and explaining that people who don't choose properly between 2 opinions end up hobbling along not really making very much progress. [cf the Anglican Synod!]

  • You see, it's pre-tudor. It's real English, none of this modern pc estuary stuff! (Oh dear, I'm turning into a reader of the Daily Mail.... It's too late, the regeneration has started!)

    You wouldn't catch G Kendrick using proper words like halt, now would you?

The comments are closed.