WHEN I WAS about 10 or so, I spent most of one family vacation playing Spider Man. Leaping out of hiding places, I would jump on my unsuspecting father and try to wrestle him to the ground. It became one of those family stories everyone smiles about.
But later in life it brought me sadness too. You see, Dad was a decent but distant man. He gave me a love for books, showed me a worth ethic and showed devotion to my mom. But beyond that, I hardly knew him.
He worked five nights a week as a newspaper editor and picked up a day shift on Saturdays to fund our annual vacation. So, I rarely saw much of him except for a few hours at the weekend.
While that holiday-fund Saturday gig was well-meaning, in retrospect I’d have traded the vacation for more regular contact. A day a week with someone I knew was preferable to two weeks with somewhat of a stranger.
Because I realized that there was more to my Spider Man antics than mere boyishness. I was also saying, “Notice me!” “Engage with me!” In one way, it was like when Jacob wrestled all night with God, whom he told, “I will not let you go unless you bless me” (Gen. 32:26).
Jacob had, of course, taken the blessing due his brother Esau from their father, Isaac, by disguising himself as his sibling. But he knew that it didn’t really belong to him. Indeed, he had to become someone else to get it. The stay-at-home momma’s boy pretended to be the outdoorsy type his father preferred.
How many of us try to become people we really aren’t to win our father’s blessing, to become the people they would prefer us to be, rather than our true selves?
Interestingly, only after Jacob had wrestled with God did he get the true blessing he desired and deserved. And the change wasn’t something he had to tell people about.
Because God put Jacob’s hip out while they wrestled, causing him ever after to limp. Everyone could see that he walked differently—as do we when we have experienced God as our true Father.