I Give Up

If there is one thing we all share, it’s the will to win. No one, in the history of competitive sports, enjoys losing. I mean, isn’t winning the point to playing the game? This time of year, competition is in the air. Whether it’s your alma mater, or your hometown heroes fighting it out on your turf, we all enjoy watching a good game.

When it comes to life, I think it’s the same way. We want to win. We want things to go as planned. We want to run the play, and for that play to put points on the board. Unfortunately, you win some and you lose some. Or some seasons, you win a few but you lose most. Or, when you’re really having a bad year, you don’t get to enjoy any wins at all!

Insert Jacob. Jacob was an underdog, but he had the will to win. He would do whatever it took. He had a womb mate, named Esau (his maternal twin). During childbirth, Jacob grabbed the heel of his brother, Esau, trying to come out first. Later in life, he took advantage of his brothers weakness and traded him a bowl of soup for Esau's birthright. To make things worse, he tricked his Dad, Issac, into giving him the family inheritance instead of his brother. Jacob was not a very nice person. Honestly, he lived up to his name… deceiver. He was going to find a way, or make a way to win. No matter what. Do you know anyone like that?

One day, Jacob’s winning streak ran out. He tricked and deceived his way to decades of nonstop wins, but it caught up with him. You know, I think God wants us to win. He wants you to win. Unfortunately, how we win is very important. For Jacob, he won by deceiving, lying, and taking life into his own hands… and this worked, for a while. But this night in Genesis 32, it all changed. The sins of his past caught up with him, and his brother Esau showed up with 400 men and was looking for blood. Jacob in a panic, splits his family up, and prepares for his funeral. He thought this was the end of the road… but God had a plan.

That night, someone showed up in his crisis. We don’t know if it was God himself, an Angel, or who it was. But Jacob wrestled all night with this person. He fought, he struggled, and he incurred some battle wounds. Somewhere in the night, in the wrestling, Jacob made one key decision. This one decision, changed his name from "Deceiver" to "God is Victorious." This one key decision saved his life. He surrendered. He gave up. He stopped striving, and just gave up…not on the win, but on the internal war. The war we all fight of trying to figure this life out on our own. The war of trying to make sense of things, of how life turned out. The war of sins from our past, and mistakes that keep trying to define us. He waved the white flag, and that’s exactly what God was waiting for.

Friend, if you are reading this, the best thing you can do with the life you have is to lose it. I know this sounds like an oxymoron, but I’m reminded of the words of Jesus, in Mark 8:35. "If you try to hang onto your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it." Sometimes in life, we win by losing. It takes humility, it takes trust, but every now and then, we need to tell God "I give up."