I have been thinking a lot about wrestling with God. It has been a rough few years and I have spent a great deal of time wrestling with God. It has been a struggle as I have fleshed out my faith, walked a hard path, and asked many questions. I have been like Jacob, wrestling with God, locked in a battle with God himself. This difficult season has brought me close to God. One must be close to wrestle; you can not wrestle from a distance. It is intimate activity, one that requires you to bare yourself and come face to face with another.
Sometimes I think people confuse wrestling with God with running from God, seeking God, or simply defying God. Running from God leaves you further from God, at least in your own heart. Seeking God is an activity in which we, in our own wisdom and strength are tying to understand or find God. Defying God is living a life in opposition to God and trying to make it appear somehow alright. I have been guilty of all of these things at times in my life, but these are not what I am talking about. This was face to face, deeply intimate, sweat and flesh wrestling. I have been locked in a contest that I never really thought I would prevail, one in which I did not hope to win. If I could win this struggle against God, than God would not be God and in the end I would have been the loser. It was a struggle not of obedience, but of the heart within, so it was my heart that agonized, exerted it’s strength, and bore the scars. As I drew deeper into the embrace of the Godhead: battled, screamed, fought, I was truly in constant communion, relation, prayer.
But an amazing thing happens as you find yourself wrapped in a contest of strength. Once you find your strength gone, your heart submits, and your will subsides, you find yourself being held by God. There is really not so much difference in being held in the embrace of God on God’s side, simply on ours. Like a child struggling to free themselves from a parents loving embrace, who does not see the restraining force as protection but deprivation, I found myself pulling and fighting. It wasn’t to be free, to run, to defy; simply to understand and be understood, to find my path, and to be held on my terms. I wonder how things would be different without the wrestling? I carry scars, like Jacob, scars I would not wish to have healed. I have been in the loving arms of God, a place that many who have not wrestled have not found. But, what if I gave up my strength earlier? What if I refused to fight at all? Can we be called to enter into the struggle because we are called to greater depth? I do not wish to give off a false impression of great spiritually or intimate relationship with God that I do not possess. I am simply closer to God than I had been, feel his embrace in a deeper way, see the work of God in my life in ways I could not see before. This is a journey, one that is long and far from over, but I am walking daily. I stay closer now, there are no pretenses anymore, I do not feel the need to come before God with my best foot forward, my church face, the image of the me I have created for the world. I come as I am, having already born my soul there is no need to show the illusion. Sometimes you can see the limp as I walk, and still I will follow.