Once upon a time, there was a mom with a dirty van. She took that dirty van to a car wash, a narrow room unmanned by human employees but armed with brushes and sprayers attached to robotic limbs. Flashing lights notified the driver when to stop and when to go. It all seemed so simple but evil intent lurked in the shadowy corners.
According to the design of the facility, if the vehicle was not positioned exactly right within the crowded confines of the car wash, a sign would flash with instructions. On this particular occasion when the mom pulled in a bit on a diagonal angle, the sensors did not flash, nor did the mechanisms give her time to correct her parking, instead, all hell broke loose.
Brushes began swiveling and spinning in a mad dance. The front and back windshields were pummeled with water and soap. The woman pounded on the window, crying out to be released, but the cleansing rained on until the beating finally stopped. The woman left the car wash drenched in sweat with a side mirror dangling in defeat.
As it is so often seen with car damage incidents, there were calls to be made and claims to be filed. But no one wanted to pay for the repairs. No one wanted to take the blame for the dangling mirror. Still, the woman would not give up.
She followed the trail of calls to an executive of the company who owned the car wash. He showed little care or remorse but he did ultimately reveal that he had seen “the video of the incident” and this video was fairly irrefutable in the car wash’s liability. He also acknowledged woman’s persistence so he begrudging agreed to pay to fix the mirror.
(Though she was relieved to receive payment for the repairs, she would always be haunted with the thought of a video of the most frightening three minutes of her life floating around and possibly available for viewing. She would often scan episodes of America’s Funniest Videos looking for it.)
In spite of the frustrations, the woman persevered. But persistence isn’t always considered an admirable trait. Sometimes it’s right up there with stubbornness. Anyone with a toddler can tell you that the persistent call of “Momma, momma, momma…” can get a little old.
When Jacob, the grandson of Abraham and one of the patriarchs of the Old Testament, got the chance to meet up with God he did the unexpected in one of the more confusing episodes of the Bible—he took part in a wrestling match. Jacob wrestled God (in human form) and refused to let go. Even when the God/Man asked for release and Jacob’s hip was pulled out of place, Jacob held fast. His reason for persisting in the struggle was to receive a blessing.
The thing Jacob wanted most was the thing he had tricked from his brother with the help of some goat hair and a pot of stew. He wanted something he probably didn’t consider himself worthy of but that didn’t stop him. Years of guilt had weighed down on him. He was about to see his brother for the first time in twenty years and he was afraid of the future.
Like Jacob, sometimes we are in a place where we will wrestle with God. It may not look like Jacob’s experience—a nighttime kickboxing match. But we are called to be persistent as we wrestle for God’s blessing and understanding of His teachings. And “we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”