Thursday, September 8, 2011

Refusing to Let Go

I'm sitting here in my softly-lit apartment, my Bible beside me, quiet with the exception of simple piano music gently playing and subtle taps of my fingers against the keyboard. It is a time of peace, a time of stillness. Yet all I can think about is wrestling.

I have long been fascinated by the account recorded in Genesis 32 in which Jacob wrestles with God. The New Testament is full of God physically interacting with humanity through Jesus, but as I too often forget, God doesn't change. The God of the Old Testament is the same God of the New Testament. He has always sought relationship with His creation. He will always seek relationship with me, with you.

To set the scene for this story, remember that Jacob's twin Esau wasn't too happy with Jacob after due to some inheritance issues back in their younger years. (Read this for a full account) Now Jacob must pass through his brother's land and therefore face the past he had since avoided.

I feel it is important to note that before Jacob wrestles God, he is afraid, very afraid. But not of his God. He is afraid of the unknown, afraid of his perception of his wronged brother, afraid of facing the consequences of his actions. He is so afraid that he splits up his belongings and family so if one is attacked, the other will have more time to escape. He sends wave after wave of gifts to meet his brother in hopes of gaining favor before they actually meet face to face.

When he has sent everyone ahead of him, when he is finally alone, Jacob wrestles God who is on earth as a man. (Sound familiar?) This scuffle lasts through the night and ends with the Lord dislocating Jacob's hip after Jacob refuses to let Him go without a blessing. Refuses to let Him go. Can you imagine the audacity of this action? the courage? the seeming stupidity? And yet, the Lord blesses Jacob.

It appears so black and white, so straightforward when read on the page of scripture. This event is recorded without any hint of strangeness. Yet when you let your mind invade the page, there is nothing normal about it. Our perfect Lord and Savior walking on this earth, entangled with one He created, rolling in the dust, sweating while locked in an enduring struggle. Upon seeing the sun rise, He ends their match with a blessing Jacob doesn't seem to deserve, a name change. Israel. He strives with God.

I find such comfort in these odd 11 verses tucked in the Old Testament. I know that when I sit in a place of apparent peace and yet don't find any, when I lay awake on the night before a day I fear, that it's ok to wrestle with my God, that's it's worth it. In that struggle, I can't hold on to anything besides my God, the One I don't always understand. And eventually my resistant hands will give into His everlasting arms, my tense face will rest in His chest, and in that embrace I will stay, refusing to let go.