In A Lifetime Never Met A Clever Rival

My cleverness no match had met
In Esau, Isaac of the past;
But now it’s life or death, and yet
I still in self would place my trust.
My hands are tied — submitting not,
I still would struggle, scheme and plot.
It seems one comes to rob my home;
Afraid, yet stubborn, I persist,
I fear my final day has come—
With every ounce of strength, resist.
He comes to wrestle; I defend:
I’ll fight Him to the bitter end.
How strange! Though every wile I’ve used,
For one whole night, yet still He stands.
I see my strength has been reduced,
And yet revenge is not His plan.
How strange! Although I can’t get free,
My courage grows exceedingly.
I’ve never met with such a foe,
And even if He states His name,
Of this opponent naught I know,
But that from Him reward I’d gain.
I’d force Him blessing to bestow,
And, blessing, His surrender own.
’Tis dawn, yet have I won, or He?
It’s still impossible to see.
My Rival, forced, now blesses me,
To me concedes the victory .
Says “Israel” is my new name;
But when I rise, my thigh is lame.
The faintest light in darkened heart
Begins to shine — I realize:  
If I’m so strong, why grasp the heel?
If victor, why the crippled thigh?
‘Twas He who won and left this sign,
          From folly warning me thereby.
A flood of light: This heart of mine,
As breaks the dike by swelling tide,
At once in radiance divine
Must worship, and in shame must hide.
So great my sin, I must confess:
I’m lawless, full of filthiness.
Alas! To think: I overcame
Creator God Omnipotent!
Ridiculous! Oh, woe is me!
Death is my fitting punishment.
That these, mine own two hands, rebelled
The mighty God to stop and held!
Thou, God, dost shine so gloriously;
Thou, Lord of hosts, resplendent, bright,
At once, at recognizing Thee,
And realizing who Thou art,
I cry aloud, and tearfully
I must repent and bow the knee.
How can it be that I could see
Him face to face and hand to hand?
If only earth would swallow me,
My shame to hide, my life to end.
Why did I not, at life’s first start,
Pass on, from earth in sleep depart?
I hate myself; my heart was dim,
For blinded were mine eyes by pride;
Now, at the thought of conquering Him,
I tremble and am terrified.
Not just my thigh, but all my strength
I’ve lost; I’m broken, paralyzed.
As I look back at all my life,
I see that it’s corrupt entire.
For self, my God I sacrificed;
My foolish heart knew but desire.
What then I thought that “blessing” be
Was forcing God to grant my plea.
“I wish: the heav’n must fall in line.
I plan: my Lord must coincide.
I want: my God should step aside.
I work: my God must be my guide.
When I am rushed, He must not stay,
For once, His victory to display.”
There’s one so evil here below,
So proud, deceitful, obstinate;
Lord, that I’m Jacob Thou dost know:
One Thou should’st but detest and hate;
No hope have I but mercy Thine
Upon this wretched heart of mine.
I grope — at once His mercy find.
At first lame step — His grace is mine!
If I forget, my wounded thigh
Reminds: on naught can I rely.
Though Israel I’m named by Thee,
Yet Jacob ever lame shall be.
O Lord, ‘twas Thou that overcame;
In Thy defeat, defeat I’d claim;
To Thee I yield my victory;
Thy weakness drops me to my knees.
In fear and trembling all my days
Thy will I’d do, Thy name I’d praise.

Copyright Living Stream Ministry. Used by permission.

Zach Vernon

Bothell, WA