When I was in junior/senior high, I was part of a Christian singing group that traveled around the east coast performing evangelistic folk musicals. We also included a small medley from the popular Godspell that had “By My Side” as one of the songs.
I never really understood the words “I’ll put a pebble in my shoe and walk” when I was young. Who would make themselves uncomfortable when they walk? As an adult these words take on more meaning when facing struggles in my life from miscarriages to persecutions from other believers. I always knew that Yeshua was ‘by my side,’ and I would sing praises to him to encourage myself through the struggles. Eventually with time the pebble would wear down or it would be shaken out of my shoe.
When reading about the encounter between Jacob and the ‘angel of the LORD,’ that pebble took on a more intense purpose. During their wrestling match, the ‘man’ touched Jacob’s hip which caused him to limp (Genesis 32).
The ‘pebble in his shoe’ was never removed nor did it wear down, it caused him to limp for the rest of his life! It was this ‘pebble’ that changed him from being a carnal man to a spiritual man. It was this pebble that revealed his ‘walk with Elohim‘ to the world in which he lived. He could never hide his faith nor the the personal encounter he had with the man of ‘salvation’. It was obvious to everyone he met from that moment on –– he limped.
He limped when he met Esau the next day. He limped when he met with Shechem to discuss the rape of his daughter, Dinah. He limped to Beth-el with his family where he received the blessing of faith from Elohim. He limped when he grieved the loss of his beloved Rachel. He limped when his sons brought him the bloodied garment of his son, Joseph. He limped all his days in Canaan. He limped to Egypt. He met his ‘resurrected’ son Joseph and his grandsons with a limp. When he entered the presence of the Pharaoh of Egypt as the patriarch of a nation called Isra’el, he limped. With that limp no one who met him would ever forget the God of Abraham and Isaac was ‘by Jacob’s side.’
“Therefore, to keep me from becoming overly proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from the Adversary to pound away at me, so that I wouldn’t grow conceited. Three times I begged the Lord to take this thing away from me; but he told me, “My grace is enough for you, for my power is brought to perfection in weakness.” Therefore, I am very happy to boast about my weaknesses, in order that the Messiah’s power will rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:7-9).
Sha’ul too had a ‘pebble in his shoe.’ He called it a ‘thorn in his flesh.’ It was given to him by the Adversary to keep him from becoming arrogant. Though there are many speculations about what that thorn was, it was a thorn, a pebble that challenged him every day of his life. As would be common for any man or woman, he prayed for its removal, but Elohim told him that ‘His power is brought to perfection in weakness.”
The Scriptures do not suggest that the limp that Jacob received was from the Adversary, but Jacob, whose name means ‘may God protect,’ struggled with the Adversary against the plans of Elohim for his life. It was only through his years of struggle and God’s protection that the truth of the Messiah became real and vibrant in his life.
Through Sha’ul, the message of Messiah Yeshua came to the nations. Through Jacob, Isra’el became the nation from whom salvation comes. The next time Elohim puts a ‘pebble in my shoe,’ I’m not going to pray for the day it is removed or wears down, but stop and give thanks for the blessing that He sees me as a vessel for His purpose and gave me a powerful reminder in the pebble that Yeshua is ‘by my side.’
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