Sunday, January 13, 2013

On wrestling

Genesis 32: 22 That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two female servants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23 After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. 24 So Jacob was left alone,and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. 25 When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. 26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.”
But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”
27 The man asked him, “What is your name?”
“Jacob,” he answered.
28 Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel,[f] because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”
29 Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.”
But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there.
30 So Jacob called the place Peniel,[g] saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.”
31 The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel,[h] and he was limping because of his hip. 32 Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the tendon attached to the socket of the hip, because the socket of Jacob’s hip was touched near the tendon.

This passage of Genesis has fascinated me for a long time.  I've read it with different lenses, first reading in awe of a God who would come to earth and wrestle with Jacob.  Another in awe of Jacob who doesn't back down but continues to wrestle and demand a blessing.  Another reading had me shaking my head at a God who needs to "cheat" in order to make a point.  I don't fully understand this story in many ways and yet, on a soul level, this story brings me hope.

The wrestling part of the story is what brings me hope.  I have a hard time with the belief that questioning, wrestling, doubting and struggling with God is a bad thing.  As I have grown in my faith and my belief in God, I have gone through many, many moments of questioning, of doubting of struggling and wrestling.  My faith not only has remained, in most cases it has gotten stronger.  I need to know that God not only honors my struggles of faith but meets me right where I am and loves me anyway.
This last week, I sat talking with a friend...okay, honestly it was more like I walked in the door, he said "how are you?" and for the next 1/2 hour I shared way more than that one little question warranted...and had a few things pointed out to me, by my friend and by God.  Things I needed to hear, that needed to be realized and now that they are out in the open (what? you think I'm going to tell you what they are??  Sorry, this space used to be a safe is no longer.) I can clearly see that I've been wrestling with God.  Not willing to back down but demanding the blessing while I'm wrestling...and I am going to have a limp for awhile because, well, sometimes God "cheats".

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