So Jacob was left alone and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. Genesis 32:25
When the kids were little, most nights included a “wrestling match” between them and their Dad. Sometimes it was one on one and sometimes it was Three Little Wohlferts against Dad. It was always just for fun and included lots of tickling, laughing and “not so epic” moves. The wrestling in our living room was very unlike the wrestling described in Jacob’s story in the book of Genesis. If you don’t remember the story, take a peek at Genesis 32 and give it a look; it’s a powerful story. This story happened to be one of the daily mass readings this week and it really got me to thinking about the things I’m wrestling with.
If you noticed in my wrestling story I mentioned it was always Dave and the kids; I was never a part of the event. As I look back on that I’m left wondering, why? Part of me thinks it was because I wanted it to be Dad’s thing. Part of me wonders if I was just afraid to look silly or do it wrong and part of me wonders if I didn’t jump in because the kids wouldn’t think I was as much fun at it as Dad was. Either way, I realize I missed out on something. I didn’t jump in and get involved for a few pretty lame reasons. The bottom line; I got in my own way. Unlike me, Jacob fought ferociously and with a steadfast spirit. He didn’t let up, he didn’t give in and he certainly didn’t cower from the challenge out of fear or shame or doubt; he entered in and stood his ground with determination and in the end, the Angel gave him a new name. As I let these two stories weave together in my mind, I wonder what new name I’d be given based on the way I wrestle my way through my journey to heaven. Some days I’m sure it wouldn’t be a name I’d like on a T-Shirt!
There are plenty of things to wrestle with these days. I say I want a greater understanding of Scripture and I want to draw deeper into prayer but do I wrestle with the demands of the day and the distractions of my own mind in order to make that “want” a reality? Do I carve out that time and do the study consistently and wholeheartedly or do I water it down when distractions and disruptions come along?
Sometimes the things we’re called to wrestle with aren’t so big or scary but we run from the fight. I’ve asked God to help me live mercy and love more automatically but I’m not always willing to slug my way through it. I walked 500 extra steps at the grocery store today because I saw someone I know who is in great need of love and mercy but I was in a hurry so I walked past that aisle to avoid what would have been a lengthy, difficult conversation. I didn’t just loose the the wrestling match; I completely left the mat! I remembered Jacobs story and felt awful so I trotted up and down several aisles looking for this person so I could do what I should have done in the first place; be present to someone in need.
Very often I let public opinion determine the intensity of my wrestling. I have to stop and ask myself if I’m willing to be Jacob and wrestle out the tough issues that need a voice of discipleship even if it isn’t the fancy way to think. I have to wonder who the people are who need me to wrestle for them; the unborn, the underemployed, the poor. If these things are really important to Christ, they should be important to me and if I’m gonna call myself a disciple of Jesus I’d better get ready to rumble. I should probably take a lesson from the living room matches of long ago…yup, others may be lots better at it than me but God’s not calling me to be the BEST wrestler, I think he’s just calling me to hop on the mat and give it all I’ve got. So, pardon me while I say a few prayers and figure out how to get myself out of his way so I can get ready to wrestle!
A Seed To Plant: What are the things, big or small you need to wrestle intently with?
Blessings on your day!