It all started in the airport in Minot, N.D. My flight to Phoenix was leaving at 9:30 p.m., but I arrived five hours early (long story). I had my MacBook Pro with me, so I had something to do during my wait. Check-in staff assured me I'd find a snack shop in the gate area, so I went through customs clearance, found a quiet spot for myself and settled in.
A couple hours later, my MacBook was running out of battery, there was nowhere to plug it in and I was hungry. I was dismayed to discover the snack shop closed precisely fifteen minutes earlier. Surely I'd find a vending machine, I thought, but no, there was only a drink machine which would not accept my U.S. bills. I gave my most pleading expression to the customs officer to request change, or maybe a quick return to the check-in area where I could see machines brimming with sandwiches and chips, but that was not going to happen. Okay, I thought, this is a First World problem. I will survive. Water will be served on the flight. I finally got up to board the delayed flight at 11:00 p.m., and it was then I saw the plug-in for my MacBook, a few hours too late.
I'm learning that what once were expectations, should now be considered wishes or better, prayer requests. The flight attendant said, "Two dollars." With my eyes fixed on the water bottle, I handed her my U.S. bills. "We don't accept cash," she responded, so I decided to thirst and hunger another three and half hours, because my debit/credit card was in the overhead compartment. After finally arriving in warm beautiful Phoenix, I recovered with a light snack, water and sleeping, but perhaps from the hours of sitting or the twenty hours of sleeping, I now had a severe stabbing pain in my hip.
Okay, Lord, I think you're trying to get my attention, I thought. I took my green juice out to the patio, and relaxed into the embrace of my heavenly Father. What's going on, I asked? The first thought that came to me was Jacob in Genesis 32:22-32. Jacob, who wrestled with an angel, Jacob whose hip was badly wrenched. In verse 31, he received a new walk. As Edward K. Pousson says in his article Bethel to Peniel
, "Nobody struts into the Kingdom." In verse 28, Jacob received a new name, a new identity. He was transformed from Jacob to Israel, from "just me" to "commUNITY." Also in verse 31, when the sun rose upon him, he received a new day, a new beginning. All this newness in a time of loneliness and discomfort, and Jacob named the place of his transformation "Peniel," which means "face to face with God."
Jacob Wrestling with the Angel, Eugene Delacroix
The following Sunday, I found a wonderful church near our home in Phoenix. It's called "New Life!" I love how God works, don't you?
It's hard to put into words how much these thoughts meant to me. It wasn't because of my unfortunate airport and flight experience, or because of my painful hip. Those were only preparatory for my encouraging Peniel encounter. The significance was that my spirit was longing to hear from the One who makes all the difference in my life. My spirit was longing for fresh revelation, for transformation. I've written before about my long dark journey, a time of introspection, reflection and spiritual bewilderment. The emerging process seems long too, but it's so rich and valuable. It's essential.
Reading about Jacob in Bethel to Peniel by Edward K. Pousson
gave me incredible comfort, inspiration and hope. I hope you'll read it too.