Yesterday I was disciplining a newer believer in my home, when she asked me to further explain about Jacob wrestling with God from Genesis 32: 22-32. Now, I have wrestled intensely with God many times and was able to share with her my experiences and how those times changed me. But, it was the point my 17-year-old son, who had been listening in on our conversation (the benefit and detriment of disciplining in your home with kids around), made that gave me a new perspective on how God really works when we take the time to wrestle with Him over issues that are pressing in on us.
My son made the point that as a wrestler there is a certain amount of respect that each of the wrestlers bring to the match, which allows both of them to go through the experience with a certain sense of gain, whether they win or lose. In thinking about that after my guest left, I realized that if two wrestlers were to just meet on the mat and one was to tell the other the outcome of the match before they wrestled, and it was that the one giving the results was going to have the upper hand, that it would be much more difficult to accept the results as the other wrestler. Basically, the second wrestler would have been given no chance to put forth his best effort to change the results to be better in his favor. The contest itself was the necessary component in which to confirm the final results of the match.
Jacob was going to face his brother Esau, from whom he had stolen his birthright and barely escaped his wrath of when he had last seen him. This issue was pressing in on his heart and bringing up all kinds of fears and worries, and yet God was calling Jacob to return and make peace with Esau. It was then that Jacob sent forth his family and spent the entire night alone wrestling with God. The circumstances of God’s call on Jacob’s life did not change in the end, God still won the fight and Jacob was sent forth to make peace with his brother. But, throughout the events that took place that night, Jacob came to understand God from a whole new perspective. In that wrestling match, Jacob further learned to respect God’s authority, and thus he was willing afterwards to submit to what God was calling him to do. The wrestling match showed Jacob clearly he had done all he could to work against God, and God did not relent to any of his moves. But also, God's will became part of who Jacob was because Jacob took the time and energy to allow God to work it into his own will through facing God head on.
Often times we teach in our “good Christian” theology that we just need to be a robot doing all that God commands us to do without interacting with Him, talking things through with Him, and even wrestling with Him. This type of teaching is such a lie. The fact is, the bible is full of stories of people like Jacob who lived contrary to his type of theology. Instead, God wants us to be obedient to His will, but not until that will becomes so much of our fiber that we desire to do His will above our own instead of just doing it because it is expected of us as a Christian.
This makes me think of 2 Corinthians 9:7 “So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly; for God loves a cheerful giver.” Cheerfulness is not happiness, but deep down satisfaction in doing what you know is purposed in your life. A purpose that God has given me the most understanding of as I have sorted out His truth for myself and in the unique ways He has worked over the years to reveal Himself to me as I have pressed into Him and wrestled with His truth and His commands.
I am thankful for the times God has pressed me into places that have forced me to wrestle with Him. I am even more thankful for the ways He has changed me during those times to be willing to accept all the purposes and plans He has put before me. From those experiences, I have come forth stronger and all the more willing to follow Him and fight for His purposes without fear. Because, in wresting, I have seen God intimately working in my life and reconfirming the fact He is walking before me and working everything out ahead of me to His perfect victorious will. A will that no longer is just His will, but one that has become part of my own will for His glory.