Understanding Scripture

He Will Keep You

An excerpt from "The God Who Is With Us: A 25-Day Advent Devotional."

“Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you” (Genesis 28:15). 

Jacob the Wrestler is the story of another man who confirms to us that the lives of our biblical heroes were nothing short of blotchy, muddled messes. Over and over again, we are reminded of how surprisingly human they were. Of how uncomfortably comfortable we cozy on up alongside them.  

And by the way, if you’re anything like me, you find it oddly comforting that these are the kind of suspiciously odd specimens God used to reveal His plans and keep His promises.  

Who is this God who not only calls crazy people to carry out his will, but stays with them when it looks like they’re doing everything in their will to try and thwart it? Who is this God? This is the God of Christmas past, present and future. The God who is with you, who keeps you and who brings you back, full stop. The God who will not leave you with any of His promises unkept, even when it seems like they’re hanging precariously in suspenseful unfulfillment.  

But the reason for Jacob’s fears, and for our own, is that the future cannot be grasped, controlled, maintained or called to do what we command of it. Because of this, we worry about what we cannot see.

Jacob was a man chocked full of life’s rational and irrational fears. Fear of the future, fear for the safety of his family, fear of an unresolved relationship with his ruggedly aggressive twin brother Esau, who gave Jacob some good reasons to tremble a bit. Maybe Jacob had some rational fears after all? But the reason for Jacob’s fears, and for our own, is that the future cannot be grasped, controlled, maintained or called to do what we command of it. Because of this, we worry about what we cannot see. We try to control that which is impossible to have any firmness of grip on. We are so much like Jacob, wrestling with God over things we try to maneuver or manipulate, but in actuality cannot, because of our flesh-and-blood inability to perform the supernatural, as much as this tendency bleeds from our natural self.  

So we, like Jacob, need someone to be with us, to keep us, to bring us back and to never leave us with unkept promises. We need a God who will never forsake us, so we can confidently, and even cowardly say, 

“The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” (Heb. 13:6).

I wonder what thoughts might be traveling through your mind today as the past year fades into memory, and the new year looms on the horizon with all of its hoped-for peaks and potentially harrowing valleys? If you’re like Jacob, you might be tempted to spend this season wandering through a series of unsettled wonderings, unable to grasp the presence of God that has been all-pervasive but not always perceived.   

“Behold, I am with you and will keep you.”

“Behold, I am with you and will keep you.”  

Maybe those words feel like distant echoes in the chambers of your mind and it turns out that you have way more in common with this Old Testament wrestler than you care to admit. You desperately want to hear God bless you while you make another futile attempt to gain control of a life that you will never master on your own. Christmastime has a way of reminding us of these less-than-Christmassy realities.  

Because, in the burst of a moment, the world will come to a halt, and you will be left with a limp like Jacob. Your encounter with God on the wrestling mat has altered you physically, but it has also changed you internally, and spiritually. These sleepless hours of transcendent toil have given you a glimpse of your Creator’s fathomless care. You have found someone who exposes your vainglorious scheming and fruitless manipulations but will never lose you as you lose your way. You will be kept, like a treasured possession, secured and preserved from all the wicked devices that threaten to lure you away on both the inside and the outside.  

Behold the One who will undo you in order to do this characteristic work of His heart and hands within you. Behold the One who calms your fears, upholds your arms and stays by your side as unfailingly as the morning light appears as a welcoming friend at the dawn of every new day.  

“For I will not leave you…”  

Enter this uncharted new year with uncharted and newfound courage.  

You have never been less alone. 


Excerpt taken from "The God Who Is With Us: A 25-Day Devotional for Advent" (B&H Publishing)

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