Genesis Day 52: Removing Your Outer Shell - The Layers of Our Lives
“I used to think you were arrogant.” Ouch! That is how a conversation began, the end-result of which was the peeling-away of a layer of protection I had wrapped myself in.
We are in a world where we must protect ourselves. We often use layers.
Some layers are good. Live in the cold weather—put on layers of clothes. Exposed to the sun—lather up with UV protection. Affected by sarcastic stinging words—we have all sorts of mechanisms.
Forget your protection, and you can get injured with a lingering scar.
I had wrapped myself in layers of distance. I began applying these layers when I was young. The words kids speak to each can be so cruel. So, too adults. All these layers kept me protected, yet isolated. The result was the appearance of arrogance.
Just to be clear: we need protection. There are times violence is done to us and we get wounded. If that has happened to you, I am sorry. Today, as you continue reading, I am talking about the layers we build up on ourselves.
Sometimes those layers of protection are not always good—sometimes we need to have a layer ripped off, so that we can grow and change.
For three successive posts, I have reflected on change, both systematic, and personal. Today I want to focus on the personal.
I don’t want to rush out of chapter 32 without intentionally staring at Jacob wrestling with God.
For years, I viewed Jacob in a narrow light. I had him pigeon-holed. He was a conniver, a liar. Today, I see him as a work in progress. Today, I see his life paralleling my life.
Jacob has several encounters with God. Two of them stand out to me. The first is in Genesis 28, beginning at verse 10. It ends with Jacob pledging his loyalty to God. The second is this chapter, Genesis 32, as he wrestles with God.
I think of these moments in Jacob’s life as I consider my own life—as I have become of follower of Jesus. There was a moment, a moment I could see Jesus. He, of course, had been there all along. Yet, at just the right time, God revealed himself to me—and I pledged my loyalty.
Many Christians describe this as the moment we were “saved” or “justified”.
Yet, even though we boldly profess our loyalty, our faith in God, there is still much work to do.
I envision myself covered with layers of “self”. They must be peeled away, so that I can become the man-of-God that He intends me to become.
Thankfully God sticks with us—He has much work to do.
Christians use different words and phrases to describe this lifelong process of de-layering: “walking with God” or “being sanctified”.
That’s why Jacob wrestling with God is powerful. It visually communicates how much Jacob wants to change, and yet, how his old self still clings to him. Only God can free Jacob from himself—and Jacob must want to be free.
What price will Jacob pay? The answer is a visual deformity, a limp. We limp when we have pain. With each step, Jacob is given the reminder that He is God’s—and the Good News is, he wants to be God’s.
Which is why those scars I mentioned at the beginning, those scars left over from the peeling away of your old self, can be viewed in a few different ways—with pity or purpose.
There is Someone else who carries scars—on His hands, and feet, and side. Does He view them as a reminder of His unjust punishment from the hands of those He loves—or does He see them as a reminder of His love for those whose punishment He bore?