“Your name will no longer be Jacob . . . From now on you will be called Israel” (Genesis 32:28 NLT).
You don’t have to stay the same! In a conversion, we’re given a new identity. Once Jacob confesses his need to be in control, God’s loving and gracious response is to give him a new identity.
Now the transformation begins! Notice three things happen:
• God gives Jacob a brand new identity. God says, “Jacob--manipulator. That’s the old you. We’re not going to call you that anymore. We’re going to change your name to Israel, which means Prince with God.” Essentially, God says, “I know you’ve blown it; I know you’re conniving, but I see in you a prince. Beneath all your emotional hang-ups, all your insecurities, all the stuff you don’t want anybody else to know, I see a prince.” God is saying that today to many of us, “Beneath all of your hang-ups, I see a princess/prince. Beneath all the sins, all the things you’ve done wrong in life, I really see the potential in you. You can be something great. You can be what I made you to be. Not what you are now, but what I made you to be.”
• God blesses Jacob/Israel. “Then he blessed Jacob there” (Genesis 32:29 NLT). If we want God’s blessing, we’ve got to take the steps God requires of us.
• God gave Jacob/Israel a limp. Remember when they wrestled, God dislocated Jacob’s. The Bible says for the rest of his life, Jacob walked with a limp (Genesis 32:31 NLT). It served as a daily reminder to depend upon God. From that point on, Jacob was going to have to stand in God’s power, not his own. Jacob leaves the encounter both stronger and weaker--stronger in that he’s not the same person any more, but weaker because now he must depend on God for his daily walk.
God does His deepest work in your life when He deals with your identity: who you are, the way you see yourself, your self-perception. You will always tend to act according to the way you think about yourself. So God does His deepest changes in your life by changing the way you see yourself.
He says, “Let me show you how I see you.” When you see yourself the way God sees you, it’s going to change your life. And you can start acting in a whole new way. You don’t have to stay the same: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV).