Sunday, November 24, 2013

Wrestling with God

A week or so ago I posted how I had some thoughts surging, untamed, in my mind.

It started after I read a simple statement on a blog.

'Jacob wrestling God–refusing to let go, unless he was blessed.'   

The author went on to write more.  Briefly describing  how this story spoke to her in her circumstance. 

I couldn't shake the idea that God was speaking to me through this.  It brought on an avalanche of thoughts. I knew the story of Jacob wrestling the angel.  I felt I knew the story well.  But until I dug into The Word, I didn't realize how much of the meat of the story I was lacking.  I knew the story.  I thought I knew it well.  I was mistaken.   I knew Jacob wrestled an angel, or God, or some spiritual being.  But he refused to let go until he was blessed?  That part I did not remember. 

I sat staring at the words:

"I will not let thee go, except thou bless me." 

I stared into the stillness of the words, my mind  racing intensely.  How does this correlate to my life?  How does Jacob mirror my circumstance and how can I find comfort in this story?  What does it all mean? 

For days I wrestled with these thoughts.  I read the entire story of Jacob, I Googled questions, wanting to read different perspectives.  I read. I thought.  I read some more.  I pondered.  Trying to make sense of the confusion in my mind.  I knew God was telling me something.  Just exactly what? 

I almost laid it to rest.  

I know my mind works overtime and I think too deeply on things.  It would be easier at times to let these thoughts go.  My mind just works in rapid speed and I can't help but analyze.  Such a simple Bible story we read as a child; but what does it really mean?  

I want ~I need~ to figure it out. 
I have been wrestling some emotions the past few months.  

Anger, bitterness, loneliness, frustration.  

Or was I really wrestling God?  Was I really 
wrestling God about the timing of His plans for my life?  

While reading through the story of Jacob, I realized something:  Jacob had a messy life.

Some of the difficulties in his life were brought on by poor decisions that he made.  Many were decisions thrust upon him.

In his youth, God had it planned that he would receive the blessing from Issac.  But Jacob's mom wanted to make sure, in her way, that Jacob was the recipient.  She made poor decisions that was a catalyst for Jacob to make poor decisions later on.

After the deceit of obtaining Esau's blessing from Issac, Jacob had to run for fear of his life.  This was the beginning of struggles for Jacob.  While his mom made the decision for him, he made the decision to go through with it.

He worked seven years for Rachel.  But his father-in-law chose to deceive him and give him Leah.  This was not Jacob's decision; but thrown on him.  After he worked for Rachel, and family relations fell, he snuck away from his father-in-law in a tricky way.  Again, some of his problems were decisions made by other people and some were made on his own.

Where I am going with this?

I compared this to my life.  I've been told at times that I am living the consequences of my bad decisions.   Which is absolutely true.  But some of my bad decisions were by-products of other people's bad decisions.  {Not making excuses, simply mirroring Jacob's story}.

At the point of one of Jacob's lowest time {I would assume} is the moment he wrestled God.

He was running from his father-in-law, his wives/children hated each other, and he was headed towards Esau. He was surrounded by enemies, and his family was crumbling from the inside.

That is what I feel.

Not that I have enemies surrounding or that my family is crumbling.

But that I am surrounded by hard things.

And I am crumbling on the inside.

And through it I am wrestling God.

The part of the story that made tears stream down my face, was when Jacob said:

"I won't let go.  Not until you bless me."

My shoulders shook with exhaustion as I read the rest of the chapter witnessing how God responded and blessed him.  It wasn't a pat on the head and a small gift.

It was: "Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed." 

Can you imagine?  God telling you that you prevailed.

Not just stuck it out for a little bit.

Not just 'good did great, little one, while He pats you on the head.'

But that you prevailed. 

You stuck it out, through the darkness of the night.

You prevailed. 
Getting back to the story, I realized that moments before God blessed Jacob, He touched his hip socket and shortened the ligament which caused Jacob to walk with a limp the rest of his life.

Why?  Why would God permanently wound someone just before handing them a blessing that was indescribable?

That was one key part that I thought on.  I compared to my life.  I pondered on for days.

Then I realized this:

Jacob didn't walk away freely from his mistakes.  I can't walk away from my mistakes.  He had to live through them. I have to limp through them.

He didn't walk away blessed without boundaries without any cares.  He had a limp to remind him how powerful God was.

He had that limp to remind him of his weakness and God's strength.

I have a proverbial limp that reminds me how strong God is.

Maybe even going as far as stubborn, strong-willed, personalities such as Jacob and myself need a bit of a limp to slow us down a bit. To remind us that God is in control and we are nothing.
I've talked to very few about my thoughts.

As in the past when I talk about how I think, some respond staring blankly, many don't respond, several tell me to stop thinking about things I don't need to think about.

And then there is the one that says "Julie, Julie, make me smile...I like your thinking. Keep it up."

After all my reading, after all my studying, after all my exhausting thoughts, and in all my asking others their thoughts I have come to one conclusion:

I am allowed to ask God to bless me.  God desires us to hang on tightly and say "Bless me!!"

What I had to accept, in reading Jacob's story, was that while he became the Father of Israel it didn't mean he walked on easy street.   What one told me was we must then walk in God's ways.  We can't give stipulations for our blessings.

We can't go to God and say:

"Bless me...and THIS way...NOW."

We must simply hang on to God and trust in His blessing.
I came to know, through Jacob, that I can be blessed and am worthy to be blessed in spite of my past.

I came to understand, through Jacob, that I may still walk away wounded.  But I can be blessed.

I came to realize, through Jacob, that I can be blessed greatly, but life will still bring sorrows.

I came to appreciate my temperament, through Jacob, that being strong-willed doesn't necessarily mean a curse, it could be part of the blessing.

Because of it, I won't give up.

I will prevail. 

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