“As the hart panteth after the waterbrooks, so pantheth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God…”
Psalm 42:1,2 (KJV)
“I will not let You go unless You bless me!”
Jacob, Genesis 32:26
“I pray You, show me Your glory!”
Moses, Exodus 33:18
It has rightly been assessed that the life of a true follower of Christ is a journey of subtraction. The mission statement of John the Baptizer was, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30) Paul declared that he was “always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus” (2 Corinthians 4:10) and were it not a real story, the narrative of Yaweh’s whittling down of Gideon’s army would almost seem humorous.
And what can we make of that which transpired in the Valley of Elah during Israel’s first monarchy? Saul, head and shoulders above all the fighting men of Judah was too giant of a man to face Goliath. So we take the stepladder down man by man through Eliab, Abinadab and Shammah. Nope, nope and nope. Joab? Nah. Abner? Guess again. What about brave Jonathan? Close, but no cigar. Israel’s greatest enemy was felled not by a Samsonian brute but a diminutive shepherd boy not yet out of his teens.
Show me a reduced man and I will show you a glorious result.
Jacob, the trickster and usurper, met God on a wrestling mat. A man of exhausted resources and no way out cried aloud for Divine intervention and got more than he bargained for. All night long he wrestled with Yaweh saying “I will not let you go!” This is a desperate man. He was at the end of his rope and knew he would not live to see another sunrise if all he had were old tricks and sleight of hand. He wasn’t using legwhips and sleeper holds on the Lord of Creation but was hanging on to Him for dear life lest the Lord leave him to himself. Don’t think Jacob made a good go of things for the scripture says that the Lord simply “touched” him and disabled him for life. The picture is of the Holy One pinning Jacob and grinding him into the dust from whence came man and recreating him into a new, serving, holy and set apart man. When Yaweh focused on the pillar of man’s strength—his thighbone—and it fell free from the socket, the Lord of Hosts demonstrated that the weakness of man is the glory of God. Jacob could only be said to ‘prevail’ or ‘overcome’ after he was weakened and conquered by the Lord Christ.
The hollow of his thigh socket brings to mind another ‘hollow’. Moses, moved by desperation to move in the presence and power of Jehovah, cried aloud, “Show me Thy glory!” and the Lord put Moses inside a hollow in the mountainside and let ALL His goodness and virtue pass by him while shielded in the cleft of the rock. Moses, once the prince of Egypt and tutored in the courts of Pharaoh, was next reduced and numbered among the Hebrew slaves, and now becomes the permanent bondslave of the Almighty. And when he came down from the mountain, the mark of ownership upon Moses was a face glowing with the glory of the Presence who is a Jealous God (Exodus 34:14,30).
See a pattern here?
We will not cry out for God in desperation until we come to the end of ourselves and leave done with all that hinders and seduces us on our journey. The glory will not come to those who want Jesus AND their trinkets, Jesus AND their comforts, Jesus AND their treasure-laden hands. No, it is with empty hands, hanging on to the last thread of the rope, that we will enter into His fullness.
God needed Hannah to be barren before He could fill her womb with the one who would rest near Yaweh at Shiloh and hear His Voice then subsequently anoint the shepherd boy who would slay the Giant, become the model king and bring forth from his line the Messiah. Lest we forget, God bypassed all the well-pedigreed women of Jerusalem save one poor virgin girl from the country to be the holy habitation of the long awaited and Expected One. And to shore up His eternal mission, the Lord made it so that lowly, dirty, blue-collar watchers of the paschal lambs would announce His arrival to earth.
It is for us to remember: God wants us to come thirsty, depleted of self-strength and desperate for the Living Waters before He will fill us. He wants us barren, limping, blinded by Light, stinking of sheep and not perfumed with unguents of Egypt. He wants the odds stacked against us. He wants us to become earthen vessels—common peanut butter jars—so the treasure of Heaven may abide within.
I say again: show me a reduced man or woman and I will show you a glorious result.