From the time I was young, I’ve always been somewhat of a fighter. It was not uncommon to find me arguing with my siblings or even with my parents, and while these aren’t very redeeming qualities that I’m sharing with you, I hope to be able to shed some good light on this for you in just a minute.
I’ve been reading through the book of Genesis for the past few months now, and if there’s ever a storyline that is filled with everything from excitement to intrigue to crazy, this is it. My reading today landed me right in the middle of Genesis 32 and Jacob’s wrestling with God. If you’re not familiar with the story, it goes something like this. Jacob was the younger of two sons born to Isaac. While all the blessing and birthright belonged to his older brother Esau, Jacob figured out a way to take both from him. He fled his home in fear of Esau and what might be done to him, found extended family a ways away, and married (a few too many women, I might add). In his years spent away from home, God greatly blessed Jacob with many children, much livestock, servants, money, and more. When he finally decided to head home, he came to find out that he is only days away from meeting up with his long-lost older brother, Esau, the one from whom he took everything. So, Jacob sends a large peace offering ahead of him to meet Esau on his way, and Jacob retreats for the night with those dearest to him – his wives and children.
We pick up the story in Genesis 32:22-32 where Jacob sends his family across the stream and remains alone on the other side. Scripture goes on to tell us that for the remainder of the night, Jacob wrestled with God. I don’t know about you, but I LOVE this passage. Can you imagine? Physically wrestling with God? And coming out alive and well? Jacob saw God face to face this night, wrestled with him all night, and walked away with nothing more than a limp. Don’t get me wrong – I imagine that limp hurt quite a bit, but it served as a reminder of the closeness that Jacob shared with God.
This brings me back to my own story. As I already shared, I’ve always been somewhat of a fighter. I never wanted to take no for an answer. I always had to know “why.” This determined stubbornness in me got me into quite a bit of trouble in my early years, but it reveals something, too. The one who is willing to ask the hard questions, whether they ever get answered or not, is the one who gets to dialogue with those who set the rules. Because I took the time to understand the “why” behind the “what”, I often was able to get to the heart of the issue at hand.
In my relationship with the Lord, I’ve had quite a few wrestlings. Some, I can remember so clearly, it’s as if they occurred yesterday. They were hard fights. They were painful. I, too, walked away with a limp of my own. But it was these times of wrestling with the Lord that I was the closest to Him, because in order to wrestle, you must lean in. You must press into the one with whom you wrestle. I’ll never be one to say that I always understand why God does what He does or allows what He allows, but I have come to find that it is in my willingness to wrestle with Him through these things that I’ve grown to know and understand His heart for me as His dearly loved child.
Have you ever been asked, “What keeps you from being as close to God as you desire to be?” Well, now you have. Perhaps, it’s your refusal to wrestle. Maybe it’s your fear of asking the hard questions, knowing that the answer you receive might not be the one you want. I encourage you to lean into Him today. Press in. Ask God the difficult questions that you face today in your own life. Do so with reverence, but ask nonetheless. Because there is no way to wrestle with the Lord and not be close to His side.