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Happy Trails

The surprising power of God's grace
This sermon is part of the sermon series "A Messy, Blessed Life". See series.


The prospect of wrestling with God is not all that pleasant. Consider the man who knows God is calling him out on his abrupt and unfeeling ways at home, and he does not want to face him. Then there's the woman who knows her simmering resentment has gone as far as God will allow. Or what about the man who has moved heaven and earth to control his life, and now God has added the back-breaking last straw? Consider also the woman who knows God has a different agenda for her future than the one she's nourished, and now it is high noon. And then there's the student who knows the sinning must stop, and God has now summoned him to his office.

I repeat: the prospect of wrestling with God is not all that pleasant. We've thought about that the last two sermons in our study of Jacob. Sooner or later God comes after us aggressively, just like he did with Jacob in that dark night. If Jacob's wrestling with God is any model for our own—and it surely is—for a while we wrestle to get free of God, and then we wrestle to hang on to him. God wounds us, if he must, till we can fight him no longer. Then, from deep within, we give voice to the same yearning Jacob uttered: "God, I will not let you go unless you bless me!" Finally, after what seems like a lifetime of striving with God and man, we receive the blessing

Jacob named the site of his wrestling Peniel—"Face of God"—because, as he said, "I saw God face to face and my life was delivered." He didn't mean that in spite of seeing God up close and personal, he lived, but rather because of seeing God's face, his life was saved. And it wasn't the physical face of the other wrestler that he meant, either. Jacob saw the shining face of God's blessing, spoken of ...

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Lee Eclov recently retired after 40 years of local pastoral ministry and now focuses on ministry among pastors. He writes a weekly devotional for preachers on Preaching Today.

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Sermon Outline:


I. God's grace gives us faith to face our fears.

II. God's grace runs to embrace you.

III. Grace will lead us home.

IV. We must establish hold landmarks to remember God's grace.