Most people really hate exams. I hated exams, but there was one part I used to enjoy. It was that moment when you’d done all you possibly could, you’d looked over your paper, and there was still a little time to go before the end. So there you are, all work done, and silence. Total silence. And nobody can disturb you. What do you do with that space?
That’s the sort of space Jacob was entering in Genesis 32:22-24. He’d made all the plans he could to meet up with his brother Esau. There was nothing more he could do but wait, there, all alone. It’s that sort of a space that God can enter.
And then we get the strange story of the man who came and wrestled with Jacob, which is generally understood to be a theophany, God appearing in human form.
We often complain that it’s hard to seek out the presence of God. But do I make that space where he can come? Do I have to wait until my situation is dire, like Jacob’s before I am desperate enough? And of course Jesus promised that where two or three are gathered in his name, he would be amongst them. But there is a different dynamic where God comes to us, one to one, and deals more directly with us as individuals. And the best is, that it can happen in a moment. It can happen in the midst of others, though more easily when you are alone. It can happen at joyful times but also in difficult times. It just takes for us to turn aside from what is going on around us, and seek his face, and him alone. We just need to still ourselves, and make that space, and invite him. He loves to come.