Wrestling With God

Life Notes—May 16, 2013 

“Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak.  Then he said, ‘Let me go, for the day is breaking.’  But Jacob said, ‘I will not let you go, unless you bless me’…and there he blessed him.”  Genesis 32:24,26,29b

I wrestled in Junior High school and it was hard work!  Of all the sports I participated in throughout my life, nothing was more completely exhausting than wrestling.  I would come home from practice with (seemingly) every part of my mind and body aching.  It is an interesting sport, at least the non-‘professional’ variety, in that success requires more than strength and athletic ability.  It requires learning to utilize leverage; so there is a mental aspect to the sport that is often overlooked.  A smaller and relatively weaker wrestler can defeat a bigger and stronger opponent by wrestling smarter.

The Genesis story above is about Jacob wrestling with God—God in the form of a man.  Jacob and his brother, Esau, were the sons of Abraham, the father of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.  In the story above, Jacob and God wrestle all night.  As day is breaking God tells Jacob to let him go, but Jacob refuses to quit until he receives a blessing.  At daybreak, Jacob receives his blessing and God departs.  But the blessing did not come cheaply to Jacob. During the wrestling Jacob’s hip was knocked out of joint.  He walked with a limp the rest of his life, the mark of his having wrestled with God.

This story is meaningful to me because I believe those of us wishing to receive a blessing from God must often work for it—wrestle with God, if you will.  And just like the sport of wrestling, our success is dependent as much or more on our determination and persistence than it is on our inherent biblical knowledge.  In fact, I believe to be blessed by the Bible we must wrestle with it, too.  Wrestling with the Bible involves taking a passage or a concept and working it over and over in our mind, and perhaps discussing it with others, possibly studying other similar passages.  Wrestling with God requires prayer—not the two minute variety before falling asleep at night, but a continual prayer that may go on for days or weeks where our communion with God is never completely broken.  It is the kind of prayer than consumes every conscious moment not committed to other daily needs.  It is a haunting, obsessive need to know—an insistent demand to be blessed.  Blessed with knowledge or understanding or comfort.  Blessed by God’s presence in whatever form it manifests.  Evidence we are not alone in our wondering or our wandering or our suffering.  It can be exhausting; and it may leave a mark…

This Sunday is Pentecost Sunday, the birthday of the church. Life worship downtown is at 10:00 in Brady Hall, with traditional worship at 8:30 and 11:00 in the sanctuary.  Worship at the west campus is at 9 and 11.

Come home to church this Sunday.  Wrestling practice is held every week…

Greg Hildenbrand, Life Music Coordinator

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