Have you ever heard someone tell you to “be true to yourself?’ Or “follow your dreams?” Or “follow your heart?” Where have you heard this?
Do you remember why we were created by God? We were created to image God – to look like him and his love. We do this by trusting him, and by receiving grace from him.
In the Bible this grace is called “blessing.” A blessing comes when someone tells us that they love us no matter what, or that they will be our friend no matter what, or that they will help us become the kind and loving person that we are meant to be.
But here’s what you need to know as you are growing up – you can’t bless yourself.
Here’s why – because as soon as you try to bless yourself you just become more selfish. And when others tell you to “follow your heart” they are asking you to be your own blesser. They are asking you to tell yourself how great you are. And then you have to try to be great.
But the problem is that without Jesus none of us is as great as we think we are. In fact, we are the opposite of great. We are sinners.
Jacob (do you remember Jacob?) knew this too. He had spent most of his life trying to be great but failing. He had spent most of his life running away from his family and from God. When Jacob “followed his heart” it only took him further away from loving God and loving others.
Finally, after many years, Jacob’s brother Esau caught up with him. Do you remember what Jacob did to Esau when they were younger? He stole Esau’s inheritance by tricking their father, Isaac. Now Esau has finally found Jacob and is surely going to kill him.
And then the Bible says that the night before Jacob was supposed to meet Esau, when he was all alone, and very afraid, a man came and wrestled with him all night. Listen to how the Bible describes it:
Genesis 32:24-26. 24 And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. 25 When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. 26 Then he said, “Let me go, for the day has broken.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”
Now here’s the tricky part. The “man” that wrestled with Jacob was not just a regular man. It was God himself. It was Jesus. Jesus left heaven and came down to wrestle with Jacob as a man. And he even let Jacob hold on to him all through the night until Jacob asked to be blessed by God.
You see Jacob needed to learn that he could not bless himself, just like you and I need to learn that lesson too. We need God to tell us how to live instead of following our own dreams. And we need God to tell us we are his and that he loves us.
How do we know that he loves us? Because 2000 years after Jacob, Jesus came down to earth again. And again he would let himself be grabbed and held on to. He would let himself die for our sins. Jesus came to bless us like he did Jacob. He came to call us his own. He came to give us his dream to follow. A dream that will never make us selfish, but kind and caring instead.
(Oh, and Esau didn’t kill Jacob. They actually forgave each other and became friends again – yay!)
Because of Jesus we are blessed by God with his love and grace.
With Jesus we can follow God’ heart and be kind.
DO SOMETHING TOGETHER
If you have time watch the movie Moana together. This movie does a great job of placing the “follow your heart” story (Moana has the sea inside of her, calling her to journey away from her people on her own – like Jacob) next to the need to overcome her fear and doubt with a greater identity given to her from outside of her (her grandmother, Tala’s spirit reminding Moana who she is).
Or just watch this scene: again when plagued by fear and doubt Moana is reminded of who she by her grandmother.
You can also talk about how Moana’s did not just follow her own selfish dream, but a dream to help her people.
Thank you for blessing me with your love. Help me to share your heart and bravely be kind to everyone.
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