I bought an electric chainsaw to trim trees in our back yard while Judy and I lived in Sturgeon Bay, WI. After reading the instructions, I realized I had to avoid the risk of having the chainsaw kick-back. I thought good night, this could be dangerous! Then, on page 19 of the manual was this warning sign: Seek professional help if facing conditions beyond your ability. Hmmm, interesting.
Fortunately, that wasn’t necessary. I submitted to the instructions in the manual—although I did have thoughts of climbing trees with the chainsaw to cut limbs that weren’t on the ground.
You know, as good as getting some professional help may be, for anything in life, I believe God has the manual for living life well.
I’ve been addressing the need for me (you) to have a healthy respect for our depravity described in the book of James, but without Submitting to God, it’s useless. That’s what the Bible teaches and I believe it’s true, particularly when resisting the devil and any evil.
Who are we kidding? No one has the power to make the devil run away in fear and trepidation, except God. What James says is, Choose God. Be on His team and let Him champion the fight we have with our own depravity and the devil (my emphasis).
In James 4:8 the writer guarantees that in this fight, coming near to God means God will come near to us. He doesn’t like distance.
This can be seen in the life of Jacob and his struggle in the night (Genesis 32:22-32). Returning to what will become the Promised Land; Jacob must first face his twin brother Esau, who had sworn to kill him in retaliation for swindling him out of their father’s blessing. Jacob had a long history of devious behavior.
On his way back, Jacob was approached by a man in the night and wrestled with him until daybreak. We find that the identity of the man is God himself. The story shows how the man wouldn’t overpower Jacob until he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip, to cripple him.
I’m told the hip bone is the strongest bone in the body. And it represents everything Jacob had to offer in his own strength. To preserve Jacob from death, God resorts to this expression of his supernatural capabilities, and it’s at this point that Jacob finally recognizes the man. He then says he will not let God go, until he’s blessed by Him.
What a wonderful passage to demonstrate what James is saying!
The story affirms God’s divine commitment to stay with Jacob in his struggles. In fact, God chooses to be caught up in the struggle. His promise to Jacob involves not a passive presence but an active, engaged relationship. It also teaches us that God welcomes tenacity on our part rather than passivity when pursuing Him.
James is saying a deep change becomes evident in who we are when we continue to draw near to God. That’s a promise.