Light to Live By

"The unfolding of your words gives light ..." (Psalm 119:130a)

Category: Genesis

Which is it?

Of late I have been memorizing and praying back to God the great prayer of Habakkuk 3:17-19. But during much of that time I’ve also had in my Bible a 3×5 card upon which I wrote, some time ago, the text of Genesis 32:26b. Recently, as I was praying back the former to God, I happened upon the card in my Bible. In an instant, seeing them side by side, I realized the contrast between the faith of Jacob and that of Habakkuk.

“I will not let you go unless you bless me.” (Genesis 32:26b). These are, of course, Jacob’s words while wrestling with “the angel” through the night. He says, “I’m not letting go of you, Lord, until you bless me.”

“Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. GOD, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places. To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments” (Habakkuk 3:17-19). This is the prophet’s prayer of faith as he surrendered to God’s sovereignty over the nations and over his own life. This is Habakkuk saying, “I will not let you go even if you don’t bless me.”

See them side by side:

  • I will not let you go unless you bless me.
  • I will not let you go even if you don’t bless me.

So which one is it?

Or, is it both?

Yes, both.

For the blessing for which Jacob holds out is God’s own presence with him. And that of which Habakkuk will not let go, no matter his earthly state of blessedness, is the presence of God with him.

Bless me or bless me not, you, O Lord, are the one essential. You are the one thing I cannot live without. Amen.

My Reward and Portion

“I am . . . your reward.” (Genesis 15:1)  “The Lord is my portion.” (Lam. 3:24a)

These two seemingly distant passages of Scripture came together in my mind this morning.

To Abraham (to whom God had just given what is perhaps the largest promise ever given – to make of him a great nation through which He would bless all the nations of the world) God said, “I am . . . your reward” (Gen. 15:1). 

Many years later God guided Jeremiah (who had just lost everything he ever counted dear, everything he ever believed God for) to pray, “The Lord is my portion” (Lam. 3:24a).

On either end of the spectrum – whether God has offered me everything or He seems to have taken everything from me – He alone is my reward and portion (inheritance).  Even when I have it all, I have nothing more than God.  And when I have lost everything, I have nothing less than God.

He who has everything, including an intimate relationship to God, has nothing more than God alone.  In fact he has nothing more than him who has nothing and yet still enjoys an intimate relationship to God.  He who has lost everything, but still has God, has nothing less than he who has God and everything else.  Either way, God is my inheritance, portion, and reward. 

Heavenly Father, let me count You to be my only and greatest inheritance and reward in this life and in the next.  Be my portion.  With You I have all things.  Without You I have nothing.  Enable me to treasure You, O Lord, my God above all things.  I pray this in Jesus’ Name, amen.

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