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In one of the most puzzling encounters in the Bible, the patriarch Jacob wrestles with a mysterious man all night. Near the end of the struggle, the stranger touches his hip and puts it out of joint.

He has been wrestling with God. And after God hurts and calls and blesses him, He changes Jacob’s name to Israel. And Israel now walks with a limp.

We often think that getting more religious means we will turn over a new leaf, and that we can, by sheer will power, change our hearts. We’re told that We Have The Power, that we just need to drum up enough faith, enough of the greatness within. And that we can do it all by ourselves.

But it’s just window dressing. All that does is turn us into proud, self-righteous fools. We can modify externals, but what of the very core of who we are? Lasting, inside-out change only comes from God’s direct work on us, and that often comes only as our trials break our hearts and humble us. It’s then, when we give our train-wrecked lives to Him in trust and surrender that we are remade in practical fact.

These trials may leave scars and even permanent damage. But they also become the marks of His ownership of our hearts. We now need to lean on Him to make our way – we always did, but now we know it. We will walk with a limp, just like Jacob. But it’s hardly a bad thing when we finally lay down our own attempts to justify ourselves and our proud self-sufficiency.

This is what humility looks like. Not that we hate ourselves, but that we’ve learned to look for our supply from Someone outside ourselves.

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