angels, Bible, Christian, Encouragement, Faith, God, grace, Jesus, Spiritual, Uncategorized, worship

When meeting with God leaves you limping


I’ve had a great deal on my mind lately. Nothing particularly eventful has occurred but my mind has been full of almost more than I can handle. I’ve written blogs on a couple of ideas that are whirling around in there, but one seems a little lame and the other a bit angry…neither of which has prompted me to hit “publish”.

Truth is, I’ve been wrestling a bit. Not the kind of faith-in-crisis wrestling that I’ve done in the past, but more of a faith-in-expansion kind of wrestling. The more I press into God, the more questions I have and the more answers I await. And while I would much prefer that God and I have a simple I ask a question and He answers kind of dialogue, this uncomfortable reaching and stretching and waiting is good. I am daring to exercise my faith in areas previously believed to be off-limits.

We are exhorted to come boldly before the throne of God and I feel as if there is nothing bolder to present in His presence than the questions we have. Especially the really hard questions. He has no fear or irritation at our asking. He holds every answer and is a good Father Who is patient and kind. But perhaps you feel as I did that our questioning presents a lack of faith. I now believe it to be the very opposite – to go fearlessly to our Father with great expectations that He will answer is to have great faith.

My thoughts have settled on Jacob this week and His wrestling with God. Different translations mention a Man or an Angel of the Lord.  Not to get ahead of myself but the new name he was given has a meaning of God-wrestler.  

This passage in Genesis 32 is so interesting. Jacob had done his brother wrong. They parted on bad terms and this chapter of the story picks up where Jacob is attempting to reconcile with Esau. Now Jacob was a God follower, a God worshiper. He’s heard the voice of God Who told him to return to his people and He would do him good. But Jacob is afraid. He’s afraid that Esau is still angry and will try to kill him. So He prays for God’s deliverance. He plans to offer gifts in a sequence of droves in order to gain favor with his brother. Finally he sends his family and all that he had across the brook and he stays behind. Alone.

It is then the Man comes and wrestles with Jacob. Now, perhaps Jacob thought it was a robber or an enemy from another camp. The text doesn’t reveal his thoughts, only that he gave this Man a run for his money! He didn’t back down and when the Man did not prevail over him, He touched the hollow of his thigh, putting it out of joint. Sometime in the midst of this struggle that lasted all night the realization set in that this was no ordinary man because when He told Jacob to let Him go, Jacob refused unless He would declare a blessing on him. Talk about bold!

Then the man asked him “What is your name?”  Obviously God already knew his name but the Amplified Bible gives insight into why He wanted Jacob to say it:

The Man asked him, What is your name?  And in shock of realization, whispering, he said, Jacob – supplanter, schemer, trickster, swindler! (v. 27)

It was in the presence of God that Jacob came face-to-face with himself. He would have known the meaning of his name for many years now, but for the first time he truly saw his character. It is in this moment that God gives him a new name, Israel, changing his identity and drawing him into the plan for his life that had been there all along.

Something had been working in the wrestling. There was a reason the Man came and forced Jacob to contend with Him, forced him to engage in a surprising and confusing and exhausting exchange. And this meeting with God left him limping.

When we press in for more of God and refuse to let go it is certain that He will bring us face-to-face with ourselves. It is in these moments that pretense falls away and we see who we really are and how desperately we need Him. It is then we are ready to surrender to live out the plans He has for our lives in our new identity – the righteous, redeemed, forgiven children of God. When we examine our motives and the whys of our beliefs, stepping away from empty religious acts can be uncomfortable…kind of like limping. It is then we find that we can no longer walk the same as we did before.

He named the place of this meeting Peniel – the face of God, and was thankful that his life had been spared, so I don’t think he minded the limp. I think every time he took a cautious step, even if it hurt a bit, he remembered that he had been in the presence of God and the limp that to others may have looked like a handicap was actually evidence of his strength. Whether he had the limp for the rest of his life or not, it was sure that he never walked the same again.

When meeting with God leaves you limping” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on

Painting:  Jacob Wrestling with the Angel (detail) Eugène DELACROIX (1798-1863)


angels, Bible, Christian, Encouragement, Faith, family, friends, God, grace, grief, Jesus, loss, love, mothers, sorrow, Spiritual, tears, Uncategorized, worship

Do you see what I see?


It was a good service.  I think.  I have to admit I was more than a little distracted.  It’s almost Christmas and deadlines are pressing.  I have orders to fill and it will take working every day this week to get them done on time, even working this afternoon.  Focus is easier as we lift voices and hands in praise but once my body is still the after effects of a rushed-because-my-alarm-didn’t-go-off-morning set in and my eyes long to close for just a few more minutes of sleep.

All is completed in the order of service except for the final act of passing the offering plates.  It was in the stillness of waiting our turn that I saw them.  Just a few rows in front of me I could see a father holding his young son.  The boy looked into his father’s face as he quietly stroked his beard and patted his cheeks.  It was a precious moment, one that caught me off-guard as sorrow engulfed me without warning and I began to weep.  It would not be stopped and it took every measure of self-control I had not to give it full reign and wail loudly as I imagine our forefathers did when they ripped their garments and donned sackcloth and ashes.  My mind quickly assesses how this must look, a very odd time to be overcome with emotion, but the heart would have its way whether understood or not.  It would be hard to explain how in that moment I felt small hands on my face.  I suppose it’s something a mother never forgets.

She was just a young girl when the angel came and proclaimed to her and over her that she was one blessed and highly favored.  It must have been wonderful in that moment to know that God’s plan for her life was so important that He sent an angel to announce it.  I wonder if she expected that to happen again.  I wonder as she walked down the streets where her friends and neighbors turned away, embarrassed at her shame, did she look for another word from God?  I wonder as she and Joseph struggled with the newness of married life complicated by her “situation” if she spent time alone waiting for another angel to tell her they would make it through the learning how to love each other?  I wonder as she waved goodbye to her mother, climbed upon a donkey, and journeyed farther from home than she had ever been, was she watching the sky for a sign as the homesickness quickly set in?  I wonder as she cried from the pain of childbirth and fear of the unknown, did she beg Him to speak, to reassure her that this is exactly where He had planned for her to be?  I wonder if the angel’s words rang in her ears as she wept at the foot of the cross?  Sometimes this is what blessed and highly favored looks like.  Do you see?


Sometimes blessed and highly favored looks like the one who sacrifices time with her children and grandchildren, friends and activities, as she tenderly cares for her elderly mother, wondering where she will find the energy for tomorrow.  

Sometimes blessed and highly favored looks like the one who rises every day with new resolve to stay clean, determined to rebuild what was torn down, resisting the constant temptation to give up, wondering when God will bring complete deliverance. 

Sometimes blessed and highly favored looks like the one with no new goals or plans as she sits in the discomfort of the stillness, wondering why God is silent.

Sometimes blessed and highly favored looks like the young mother with toddlers at her feet, another baby on the way, trying not to be completely overwhelmed in this life she dearly loves and wondering how she will get it all done.

Sometimes blessed and highly favored looks like a woman crying as she touches her own cheeks, enveloped in memories that overwhelm with both joy and pain, wondering what it will be like to see him again.

Sometimes blessed and highly favored looks more like dark, thunderous, lightning-filled skies than sunshine and rainbows.

It’s tempting to believe the message that to be blessed and highly favored is evidenced by our positions, our promotions, and our pocketbooks.  To proclaim it often to ourselves and over ourselves in hopes that our lives will be easier and more secure through our loud and upbeat proclamations of faith.  And as that may happen to some, it is still the least of it.  As I consider Mary and what it meant that she was blessed and highly favored above all women, I believe we have trivialized it and made it something it is not.

It’s been a year of getting real with God.  It’s been a year of examining faith and finding again the simplicity of the solid foundation and ridding myself of self-imposed boundaries and unrealistic expectations and mechanical worship.  I am not blessed and highly favored because all has gone well and my life has been spared the dark nights and the weeping and the difficulties and the pain.  I am blessed and highly favored because I have loved deeply enough for my heart to be broken.  I am blessed and highly favored because I have risked my heart and given my energies and failed miserably. I am blessed and highly favored because He has noticed my sorrow and saved my tears.  I am blessed and highly favored because He lowered Himself to be housed in me, never to leave me or forsake me, especially in the dark moments.  I am blessed and highly favored because I am no longer dependent on outward circumstances, people, or events to determine if I am blessed and highly favored.

Do you see what I see?


Do you see what I see?” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on

angels, Christian, death, Encouragement, Faith, family, friends, God, grief, Jesus, love, praise, sorrow, Spiritual, Uncategorized

Two angels in an airport

The memories come at such odd times, completely unrelated to anything I’m busy with at any given time. Some are old and faded, others as fresh and clear as if they had been my yesterday.  I hold these snapshots of my life close to my heart as if by doing so I am protecting them, keeping them exactly as they are, like old photographs that cannot be edited, rarely shared.  Perhaps it is because words fail me as I attempt to replay for you those voices and paint the picture in your mind of those faces as vividly as they are held in my soul. Perhaps it is because I fear that even if I share with you only the good and beautiful ones it will uncover the bad and ugly ones, too, as they are all mixed together, stored away in the same album of my past.  Perhaps it is because they will provoke questions that I do not want to answer or judgments I cannot bear.  Perhaps they are so precious to me that they are meant to be just for me.  Or perhaps I’m simply being selfish.

It was 5 am and we were at the small Mexican airport before it was open for business.  Friends had worked through the night to make the arrangements for me to return home.  I remember the impatience I felt at how slowly the employees were working to receive those standing and waiting, oblivious to the fact that my life had been irrevocably altered only hours before.  I can see so clearly the older gentleman who took his position at the ticket counter as he was putting on his red vest.  The travel agent who had delivered me to the airport presented my documents to him and obtained my boarding pass.  We were not friends as we had only met the day before, but I could tell she felt bad that she had to leave me alone.  I stumbled through my thank yous for her help and numbly walked through security.

It was only a short walk to the gate where I would wait for several hours before departure.  The waiting area was nice and attractive with beautiful potted plants scattered among the seats;  I watched the same gentleman who wore the red vest walk to the gate and change into a blue vest in preparation for receiving boarding passes; I remember thinking that was funny even though it was impossible for me to smile or laugh. What strange things to remember.  Most of the seats were empty as few had scheduled such early flights.  It had only been a few short years that I had been given the opportunity to travel but I had quickly learned how to nap in-flight and in even the most uncomfortable of airport seating and I was desperate to sleep here.  I wanted to close my eyes and not think or feel, but sleep would not come.

The shock of the news and the busy-ness of preparing to go home had kept the wave of grief from crashing over me.  Until then.  I sat alone with nothing but my memories and my body literally began to shake.  I was alone and cold and heartbroken and guilty and afraid.  My sorrow poured out with such vengeance it would not be quieted.   Regret came hard with its accusations and I believed every word.   I groaned and sobbed with every fiber of my being.  There was no room for embarrassment or self-consciousness for it would not be stopped, this exposure of my pain in a Mexican airport.

They approached me ever so gently.  They quietly took the seats next to me, tenderly reaching out hands of comfort before ever speaking.  One walked away and returned with a blanket, hoping to stop the harsh rhythm of my tremors.  The other stroked my back and waited with me, not knowing me or the reason for my pain.  I don’t remember if they asked or I just needed to tell someone, but I remember the sound of my voice as the agony poured out.  “My son is dead.”  They held me and cried with me and stayed with me until it was time to board.

I don’t know what sparked this memory today.  I don’t remember their names or their faces.  I remember their hands.  I remember that two complete strangers were willing to be uncomfortable so that they would be used by God that day, whether they were aware of Him or not.   They were probably on vacation and this was not on the list of memories they planned to take home.  But they noticed me and rather than ignore or offer a quick bottle of water and simplistic words of comfort that are really no comfort at all, they stopped and they stayed with me.  They stepped into my world of grief and reminded me that God was with me.  Not with their words for they said very little, but with their actions.  With their love and their arms and their inability to remove my anguish, they sat with me.

The bible is clear on the existence of angels, and charges us to always be hospitable should we entertain them unaware.  Were these angels that sat beside me?  Perhaps.   If angels do walk this earth with us in the form of humans, I strongly suspect this is exactly the kind of thing they are busy about doing.  But I rather believe that these women were just two ordinary souls like you and I who believed that people matter. Women who understood that people matter above schedules and itineraries and appearances and personal comfort. Women who knew from experience that lives can be painful and messy and inconvenient and uncomfortable, but they matter enough to approach a stranger.

I want to live a life that is unafraid to step into another’s circle and stay with them for a while.  To look upon the ugliness of their pain and suffering, even when it is out of my reach to affect it, and stay with them.  To hold back my tongue from quick words as I cover them with a blanket of love.  To notice them.  To cry with them.  I want to be willing to be uncomfortable in order to bring comfort.  I want to be His love and His presence and His hands.   Just like two “angels” in a Mexican airport.