Tuesday, October 23, 2007

wrestling and God's will

Jacob was renamed "Israel" because he wrestled with God and man and overcame. I believe Jesus wrestled with God and his will in the garden of Gethsemane, and understandably so in what he was about to do and accomplish as a human being as well as being of God.

Wrestling and God's will may seem insignificant to bystanders if they knew what we are going through. It may seem rather insignificant to ourselves at times. But we must remember that God takes the "little" matters in our lives and as we seek to find his will with reference to them, this can turn the hinge for much larger matters. Really this is about learning this as a part of our lives.

Why do we have to wrestle to find and live in God's will? Part of it is that we're prone to wander away from God and his will as sinners. And part of it is that we're completely dependent on God as human beings, even apart from being sinners. God wants us to learn to be satisfied with nothing less than finding his will and then learning to live in it.

This wrestling also involves learning a new way in our lives and that means unlearning our old ways. No wonder it involves wrestling, because often the old seems better and the new being new, is untested and untried by us. This movement of faith is accompanied with fear and that is a part of this wrestling that I think has to be a part of our experience in learning to walk in the way of the Lord in our lives.

What have you found in your own life about wrestling and God's will that you would like to share with us?


Rachel Pacer said...

I have found out that God won't let go. Sometimes I just want to be left alone, I don't want to be on this path; but God won't let go! As a new christian, (ex- catholic)I have been struggling with the phrase "Spirit put this on my heart" and then the person goes on to say what they feel God wants them to learn/do/say/experience. I didn't understand, so I prayed for guidance. I received it, but nobody explained to me how persistent God could be! Seriously, I am in a huge life change, and my world was tipped upside down. I am wrestling with God to make sense of everything, and to learn to forgive someone. I have been blessed to have found a new church where the pastor graciously has allowed me to write/muse to him on his sermons and my journey. Pastor tells me to learn from the wrestling, and I think I am.

odysseus said...

Maybe the wrestling is mostly our part. That is, perhaps, like Jacob, we won't let go of the old ways of doing things. However, God needs us to change them and move on to new things. So, maybe, the wrestling is not so much of us wrestling with new ways of being human as they are with letting go of the old ways of being human. At least that has been my experience. I know the Way to be act for I have seen it in our Lord, however, I really don't want to let go of what I have always done. I mean, I read what they did to Jesus (and I understand that he is calling me to follow in his footsteps) but I don't know if I want to go that route. So, for me, my struggle isn't so much of wrestling with God (I know what God wants) my struggle is wrestling to get free from the old way of being human so I can be free to embrace true humanity found in Jesus.

Peace be with you.

+ OD

Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

I think we wrestle because we don't have a clue who God really is and we are clueless that we are clueless. Only in wrestling do we become weak enough to become still enough for God to really speak and tell us who He is.

Once again, we are thinking along the same lines Ted!

Rachel, if you see this comment, you might enjoy reading, "The God I thought I Knew". If you were raised Catholic, it will show you how the theology you were raised with actually matches up with correct theology. The author (sorry I can't come up with that name right now) does this in a very easy and funny manner - in fact, even though I didn't grow up Catholic, I rolled with laughter as he used his experiences in Catholic grade school to present the gopel - both as he learned and as it truly is in scripture.

L.L. Barkat said...

I've definitely used this terminology before, but sometimes I wonder if I truly understand it. I have, actually, never literally wrestled. I bet there are nuances that would be fascinating, and far beyond my simple understanding of it. And that maybe I'd use the term differently, if I only knew.

Anonymous said...

speaking of overcoming...

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

1 John 5:6-12

Anonymous said...

I have used this term "wrestling" to describe my own journey lately - and I like the picture because in wrestling, I see a lot of twisting and turning, and I've never really been able to tell how one keeps score or really how one wins. The difference in wrestling with God is that we are no where near the same weight class. The only way I can keep engaging him is that he condescends and graciously holds back so as not to consume me.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Sounds like you have a good pastor.

I've noticed too that if I can just wrestle through difficulties or new challenges with God, this can give me a sense that this is helping in my growth in grace. Although you really don't notice growth except maybe in five year increments; maybe sometimes you notice some changes over a year.

I don't think wrestling with God is necessarily a sign of lacking faith; in fact I think it would normally be an indication of faith.

Blessings on you on your journey and what you're working through now.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Good words. I think I've surely done much of the same.

I do notice in Scripture as you well know that as we put off the old we're to put on the new- in Christ. I think some of my wrestling involves seeking to do this. But usually it's just over an issue. Often it's a trust issue: am I willing to trust God in his word and what I sense is his leading, or not?

Of course as we learn to trust God in what seem to be little things, I believe it will become more in our nature to be obedient in the weightier matters of God's will in Jesus.

Ted M. Gossard said...

I keep hitting this key and in this case lost nearly a full comment. I'll try again!:

Great thought. I agree, though I do think there are other hues and colors in this wrestling.

I like your thought about being weakened enough to finally let God have his way in our lives. Like Rich Mullins wrote, something like, "lost enough to let myself be led."

I do want to better understand God revealing who he is to us. I understand alot conceptually but I would think that God wants to bring home alot more to me, even in this present time of knowing in part and seeing in a glass darkly.

Whew, I made it!

Ted M. Gossard said...

I agree. I think wrestling spiritually is multi-faceted in meaning. Jesus wrestled, I believe, as did Jacob, Jeremiah, David (look at the psalms) and many others in Scripture.

It's not easy living in this present time and existence with all the things that are thrown our way. If we're not in some kind of wrestling mode at times, then I wonder if our faith is really active or if we're in some kind of trance of unfaith.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Yes. This passage tells us that our faith in Jesus enables us to scale the heights and obey freely from the heart, free as a bird, I think.

But I'm not sure were always there. This is part of our growth that the words of this passage would more and more characterize our lives, as well as more and more be experienced as true in them, daily or more regularly, as well.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Yes, I love the thought of God condescending so we can wrestle with him over issues and troubles like you're facing.

And we need to wrestle with God for each other. I like Paul's words about a prayer warrior in his day:12 Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured. 13 I vouch for him that he is working hard for you and for those at Laodicea and Hierapolis. (Colossians 4)

This is surely one way of praying in the Spirit (Ephesians 6).

Yes, wrestling is not easy; it's tough stuff, and needed at times, I think. Often just to get me where I need to be before God so that I'm actually really present before the One who is always present with us.

Anonymous said...

wrestle? of course i have had times of wrestling, but, more than that i would call it a coming to faith, it feels more like a striping away of my skin, or other times like someone is pulling my heart out, i think it is more of a process of continually being brought to a place of face-down-on-the-floor humbleness and need so that i can be renewed in God.

Ted M. Gossard said...

I like your words in describing this. So very true, and well spoken.

Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

My daughter says yes, Rich Mullins - from the last CD - the one that was just trial tracks laid down with a recorder before he died - that's where the words came from.

today, having suffered "defeat" at the hands of a loving God, I'm just too stunned yet to do any wrestling at all - lying very still and hoping to sleep is the best I can muster.

Ted M. Gossard said...

I knew it was from that album and also remembered it's the first of the nine songs on the demo tape they were able to retrieve and clean up good enough to share with us.

Hope you were able to get your rest and have a good sense of renewal today. I needed the same and seem to have received it this morning.