I’m wrestling with God! To offer some context I’m not fighting with Him, it’s not rebellion but there is a tension. I’m resigned to be beaten and feel comfortable at the inevitable prospect of losing—but still I wrestle since it seems this conflict is a default position. I’m not trying to heavy hand God in order to overcome Him, how could I? I’m just struggling to reach His thinking and instruction; and so I resist. For certain His ways are not my ways (Isaiah 55:8). As I consider my plight I’m confident that God doesn’t mind this exchange. I’m comforted knowing He knows my frame (Psalm 103:14) and the mere presence of reverence and fear mixed with my humanity and frustration gives me license to speak honestly, to vent as He bends His ear to listen. In this truth there is a freedom to protest and navigate. So I shout. The Gospel of John calls us to decrease so that He may become greater. He doesn’t need my surrender to feel superior for after all He is God. I doubt He has ever felt insecure. The truth is my life only declares Him great when I step back and allow Him to step in. My will belongs in the shadows so my life can shine His light.
Dietrich Bonheoffer said “When Christ calls a man He bid’s him to come and die.” Frederick Burcher talks about a divine encounter as a “magnificent defeat of the human soul at the hands of God.” And so, I am working towards letting go.
Is this how Jacob felt?
A man who was no stranger to conflict, he led the field in this arena. He knew how to run, in an attempt to escape his problems he bolted. I’m familiar with this strategy, I appreciate the sentiment. Yet his wrestle with himself and God proved profound and worthwhile. Genesis 32 tells the story. We see Jacob caught in the dark, ‘that same night Jacob arose…’ the deep things we wrestle with usually speak loudest in the quiet. I think our heart whispers truth in those moments when we are alone; listening is when the magic happens.
Jacob teaches us that a genuine assessment of self only happens when it’s you and God; as God bids us to take a close look in the mirror, stripping away and decreasing. We know that as Jacob wrestled with God He came out of the encounter with a limp and a blessing. As we lose to God we always win. It’s a fair fight!