November 26, 2006


So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man.

Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.”

But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.

The man asked him, “What is your name?”

“Jacob,” he answered.

Then the man answered, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel (meaning “he struggles with God” --- teci), because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.

Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.”

But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there.

So Jacob called the place Peniel (meaning “face of God” --- teci), saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.”
--- Genesis 32:24-30

i don’t know if i’ve overcome =) Though i have definitely struggled with men and women, seeking to bring God’s Truth while showing God’s Love (never an easy task, which is why it should be God working through me instead of my ego, my ideas and my personality).

In wrestling with God, we all know who’s more powerful =) Maybe i don’t even need to overcome him. =) It’s just that i still have many issues and questions, problems and failures, and what better way to confront them than to bring them before God Himself =) i don’t need to assert my way over His (assuming that were even possible) (wait; it is possible; He answers our prayers and grants our requests but still, that’s all part of “His way”). i just need to talk to Him and be reassured why things have to be as they are.

Maybe i'll lose, but that’s ok; He is, after all, Lord Almighty and i'm honored He even gave me the dignity of confronting Him face to face. Maybe i'll win; then i'll realize sometimes “struggling with God” means He was on my side the entire time.


When the LORD began to speak to Hosea, the LORD said to him, “Go, take to yourself an adulterous wife and children of unfaithfulness, because the land is guilty of the vilest adultery in departing from the LORD.
--- Hosea 1:2

For a long time i was against this particular couple because i felt the sheer unfairness of it all --- and also because i had an agenda of my own (tsk, tsk, really wrong of me). Anyway, i kept on bombarding God with “Why?!?!” until He (gently as always) simply said, “Hosea”.

Hosea and Gomer’s marriage literally, physically reflected God’s (terribly one-sided) love for Israel. Basically, God loved Israel to overflowing, keeping His part of their promise to one another (Exodus 24:3-8) despite Israel’s constant unfaithfulness in worshipping other gods. God is love (1 John 4:16) --- and true enough, it has gone beyond rationality, beyond common sense. “Why would i love someone who doesn’t love me back?” my selfishness would assert. But realizing that i'm the unfaithful one, the one being loved despite all reasons to the contrary; and that it’s God Almighty, Creator and Ruler of All, that’s seeking to bring me back to Himself…wow. That revelation, directly connected to my personal circumstances at the time, immediately stopped all my questions in mid-sentence.


i find David very…interesting. Paradoxical. Here he was, “a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22)”, yet he was an adulterer and a murderer. Unfaithful. Killer. Tsk, tsk, goes my self-righteousness clicking its tongue. What he did was so wrong, i constantly repeated to myself.

There was a Benjamite, a man of standing…he had a son named Saul, an impressive young man without equal among the Israelites --- a head taller than any of the others…Samuel said to the people, “Do you see the man the LORD has chosen? There is no one like him among all the people.” Then the people shouted, “Long live the king!”
--- 1 Samuel 9:1, 2, 10:24

One of our pastors mentioned that the Israelites immediately welcomed Saul as king because he was so tall and handsome. Ouch, ouch, ouch! i suddenly realized how shallow i was. (Well, i've been shallow my whole life, but God still has to spell it out for me to finally get it. =) )

For those not familiar with the story in 1 Samuel, Saul was the first king of Israel. The people wanted to have a king like the other nations around them. (Talk about not getting it! Their king was GOD already! It was the other nations that should be envying them!!) Saul’s physical attractiveness was a big plus. And yet he was eventually disgraced because he did things His own way --- even with the best of intentions --- instead of obeying God’s clear instructions. 1 Samuel 15 narrates the tragic turning point of how Saul was rejected as king.

Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD?
To obey is better than sacrifice,
and to heed is better than the fat of rams.
For rebellion is like the sin of divination,
and arrogance is like the evil of idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the LORD,
He has rejected you as king.
--- 1 Samuel 15:22-23

(By the way, i’m still being convicted by all these words, so much that in the midst of writing i destroyed the CD’s of pirated Christian songs i copied just days ago, and i finally resolved to destroy the (original) comics i recently bought as well as my old (pirated) DVD’s of practically all the X-Men comics ever printed. (The ancient Hebrew word corresponding to “destroy” actually refers to offering to the Lord irrevocably --- no turning back! --- which often meant physically destroying.) No more giving/lending to friends --- they might stumble in sin just as i have, and/or i can always get/borrow back from them and stumble all over again; no more considering selling for the sake of charity --- there would be a considerable amount of time that the comics are still with me, and again i might make someone stumble, not to mention i can also be tempted to not give the income to charity; no more justifying that i'm already ok --- yes, i'm forgiven, yes, i'm saved, but i'm still prone to temptation and the comics approach is already a “tried and tested” weak area for me.)

Enough of good intentions and mere shallow pretensions in going through the motions of obeying God. Am i really, from my heart of hearts going outward to words and deeds, seeking and following Him?

Here’s where David comes in. Actually, he didn’t “come in” at first; his own father overlooked him in having David’s brothers appear before Samuel-anointer-of-kings (1 Samuel 16:5-13). But God reminded Samuel then as He reminds me now: “The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7b) (Ok, Lord! Help me look at the heart too! --- teci)

David was a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22). He sought the Lord in matters big (what to do with the ark of God, 2 Samuel 7) and small (which town to go to, in 2 Samuel 2:1). Even when he sinned gravely, affecting many including the generations after him, his first act of repentance and regret was towards God. Did he even apologize to anyone else? “Against You, You only, have I sinned and done what is evil in Your sight.” (Psalm 51:4a)

God looks at the heart. He is not after a superficial obedience of His rules, but a sincere commitment to follow His ways.


i have come to realize how much i was like the nation of Israel --- superficial, unfaithful, selfishly pestering God until He gives out His blessing. Add to all these their shortsightedness in their exodus from Egypt, where they whined about trivial things right after witnessing the plagues and crossing a sea.

It’s a realization that’s humbling and humiliating. Fortunately, He can handle all of it --- all of us --- and He loves us despite ourselves. Wow. Moreover, He enables us to be perfect as He is perfect. How hope-filled is that!

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is but part of the ongoing saga that is the love story between me and my God.


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