Lesson Developed by
Jill Olds, Victoria Crook and Zachary Ludwig
Wrestling with God, as seen in the story of Jacob
Tips to Prepare
- If in person, set the room with chairs or around a table for a small group conversation
- If virtually, schedule in your preferred video platform
- Bibles or copies of the focal scripture
- Several boxes of uncooked spaghetti
- A bag of marshmellows
- Several yards/feet of tape
- Several yards/feet of yarn
- Load the clip from The Lion King in which Simba faces who he is
Genesis 31:1-7a, 21-30
Now Jacob heard that the sons of Laban were saying, “Jacob has taken all that was our father’s; he has gained all this wealth from what belonged to our father.” 2And Jacob saw that Laban did not regard him as favorably as he did before. 3Then the Lord said to Jacob, “Return to the land of your ancestors and to your kindred, and I will be with you.” 4So Jacob sent and called Rachel and Leah into the field where his flock was, 5and said to them, “I see that your father does not regard me as favorably as he did before. But the God of my father has been with me. 6You know that I have served your father with all my strength; 7yet your father has cheated me and changed my wages ten times, but God did not permit him to harm me. 21So he fled with all that he had; starting out he crossed the Euphrates, and set his face toward the hill country of Gilead. 22On the third day Laban was told that Jacob had fled. 23So he took his kinsfolk with him and pursued him for seven days until he caught up with him in the hill country of Gilead. 24But God came to Laban the Aramean in a dream by night, and said to him, “Take heed that you say not a word to Jacob, either good or bad.”
25Laban overtook Jacob. Now Jacob had pitched his tent in the hill country, and Laban with his kinsfolk camped in the hill country of Gilead. 26Laban said to Jacob, “What have you done? You have deceived me, and carried away my daughters like captives of the sword. 27Why did you flee secretly and deceive me and not tell me? I would have sent you away with mirth and songs, with tambourine and lyre. 28And why did you not permit me to kiss my sons and my daughters farewell? What you have done is foolish. 29It is in my power to do you harm; but the God of your father spoke to me last night, saying, ‘Take heed that you speak to Jacob neither good nor bad.’ 30Even though you had to go because you longed greatly for your father’s house, why did you steal my gods?”
Introduction for Leaders
- Begin with a check in with members
- Read the focal scripture with each person reading a few verses
- Open with prayer
Exercise 1: Spaghetti and Marshmellow Tower
- Divide the group into teams of 3-4 (Game can be done individually as well if needed – either due to group size or if meeting virtually)
- Give each team about 20 sticks of spaghetti, one marshmallow, one yard/foot of tape, and one yard/foot of yarn (can be changed).
- Allow teams 10-15 minutes to try to build a tower as tall as they can to support the marshmallow.
- Measure the height of each team/person’s tower.
- Debrief afterward to see the kind of challenges they encountered, whether it was with the supplies, themselves, or their teammates in creating the tower.
Watch together the scene from The Lion King in which Simba faces who he is
Reflect Together on the Following Questions:
- With whom is Jacob wrestling: another man, God, himself?
- What happens when we wrestle with who we are? What role does God have in that?
- Jacob walks away a new man, but with a limp. Do we always emerge from our struggles unscathed, or do we carry scars? (Invite those who feel safe to share possible examples.)
- Do we also emerge from our wrestling with a new sense of who we are, and with a new purpose?
- If God lives in us, just as Mufasa lived in Simba, how can discovering who we are help us learn about who God is?
Close the lesson in prayer (either the leader or a group member)