I don’t know about you all, but this wrestling match between Jacob and God has been heavy on my heart. I remember hearing about this wrestling match when I was young, thinking how dare a mere mortal wrestle with God. However, this time around I am trying to deepen my understanding a bit and invite you along as I “wrestle” with the text. So, with that said, we return to our original question.: What does it mean to truly wrestle with God?
Round 1: “These words were carefully constructed”
My mind takes me back to pledging the greatest Greek organization I’ve ever encountered. I remember being required to regurgitate poem after poem, definition after definition, and story after story, more times than not under extreme duress in a hostile environment. However, through the chaos I remember hearing the words of one of my big brothers. ” It’s not enough to spit a poem or two. Real Kappa Men write these words on their heart and simply bare their souls when asked to recall.” Later that night, when the “learning period” had ended, I thought about what he said. These words were written by great men, none of which with blatant disregard for the power behind words. These words were carefully constructed to mean much more than what they appear on the surface… some more transparent than others. Only recently did I think to apply this lesson learned to God’s word. We must learn to wrestle with the word of God, writing these words on our hearts, so that we can look inward rather than outward for God’s will (Wow, think about that for a second) come triumph or tribulation. I learned in grade-school that the word of God is a living and breathing organism that has the ability to remain relevant through the ages. Being such, we must learn to wrestle with it and uncover its deeper meanings and life applications.
Round 2: “my weakness, not my strength that dictates”
I wrestled in high school and I remember very well the feeling of walking out on the mat alone… nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. I remember practicing with my coach, an Ex- Professional Football player, and at 40 still the best athlete I’d ever been around. I remember the process of getting better… knowing that I faced my biggest challenge in practice every day (Please get that. If we wrestle with God in our daily lives, what trial or tribulation can we not be prepared for?) My coach knew my strengths, and together we made those strengths even stronger. However, more importantly, my coach knew my weaknesses and knew that the painful process of exploiting those weaknesses would be the only way I would truly be great. (Don’t miss this next part) You see my coach knew that if he could see my weaknesses then so could my opponent (the enemy), and though painful, it was my weaknesses, not my strengths that dictated how good of a wrestler (Christian/man) I would be. We are only as strong as our weakest link.
Round 3: “A beautiful struggle”
I’m reminded of Paul’s words in the 7th chapter of Romans. In it he talks about this sinful nature… our desire as children of God to do what is right, coupled with the innate craving to do what is wrong. It is becoming painfully clear that wrestling with God entails an internal battle with self… a beautiful struggle… beautiful because the battle is won…we just have to keep fighting. (Who else is excited about fighting a winning battle?!?!?!?!) One of my life’s fondest memories is homecoming my senior year. A lot of you were there. I was just a couple of yards away from eclipsing 1,000 yards for the season, and we were playing a team that was terribly overmatched. I remember the excitement going into the game. I knew we would win and that I would surpass 1,000 yards, but the “how” was equally as important as the “what.” I twisted my ankle in the second quarter just short of hitting my goal. However, I hit my goal in the third quarter, and it was the internal battle to push through the pain that meant the most to me. Beating the other team was a mere constellation to the real battle… I beat myself. How many of us are putting the focus on constellation rewards, and not on the prize? How many of us are losing the battles to ourselves?
So I’ll leave you with this:
A lot of times we put so much emphasis on the outcome. Who won, who lost, and what was the score? As we return to the text we see that God blessed Jacob because he “struggled with God and with men and [had] overcome.” God blessed the process and the outcome. Quite frankly, failing to wrestle with God is missing out on part of the blessing.
God bless you all family, and if even one of you were blessed by these words, I count it a victory, because it was truly a blessing sharing!
Peace and Love,
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