Wrestling With God Round 3

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ONE: Wrestle with all your strength.

Half-hearted wrestling doesn't work. In college I was in really good shape. I lifted weights, worked out all the time, weighed in at about 185, lean and mean. Well, that may be an exaggeration.

I had a Christian friend who weighed in at a slightly soft 160. He was shorter than me, not nearly as much muscle, and a bit round at the waist. I'll never forget the first time he asked if I wanted to wrestle. I scoffed a bit about not wanting to hurt him. He had a quirky little smile and said not to worry, he would let me know if I was hurting him.

We started to grapple, and the next thing I knew I was the one on the floor of my dorm room (not carpeted by the way), tied up like a pretzel, and feeling the pain.

I found out my friend had been a wrestler all through high school. I had to wrestle with all my strength just to keep him from hurting me too much.

God doesn't want to hurt you, but he is going to go at it with you, to test you, to make you strong, and to grow you into spiritual maturity.

Don't hold back. Go at it!

TWO: Wrestle with all your doubts.

At the core of the story of Jacob wrestling with God, Jacob had serious doubts (and fears and anxieties) about his future. His life had been one of non-stop scheming, which gained little and cost him much--including the enmity and antagonism of his family. In particular, his much stronger brother Esau, who had an impressive army, and who was surely out for revenge to take back what Jacob had schemed/stolen from him.

Jacob was wrestling with doubts about his identity, his people, his purpose, his nature, his history, his future.

God showed up and they went at it.

When God shows up, you don't hide your doubts. They are why you need to wrestle with God.

THREE: Wrestle with honesty.

There is no place for pretend spirituality. You don't hide things from God as you wrestle. You don't paint them over, cover them up, minimize them, spin doctor what is going on. Wrestling requires honesty and wrestling is for the purpose of finding honesty.

Another word is self-awareness. We spend so much of our lives NOT BEING HONEST or very self-aware. That is why we have to wrestle with God. Time to find out who you really are, what you can be, and why there is the gap between the two.

And what do you want to do about it?

FOUR: Wrestle with humility.

Humility and honesty are closely connected. I probably could have combined these two into one statement.

God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble. Humble yourself before the Lord and he will lift you up. That is why you are wrestling. One way God opposes our pride is by wrestling it out of us.

The wrestling outcome desired by God is humility that can receive his grace, and his wisdom, and love, and power, and redemption, and promises.

FIVE: Wrestle with faith.

The Christian life is often summed up as a life of faith, hope, and love all centered on Jesus.

The entire Christian life is a life of faith.
Including wrestling.

We wrestle in faith, faith that God is skilled enough (like my friend was) to pound what needs pounding, to humble what needs to be humbled, to ease up when the hurt seems to much, and that God (like an expert wrestler-coach) knows exactly what I need.

God ALWYS HAS YOUR BACK. Even when it is on the mat or hard floor.

SIX: Wrestle with hope.

Jacob wrestled all night. Why did he go so long? Why not give up and get it over with? Why not just admit defeat and be done with it?

Because of HOPE. Because Jacob knew there was nothing else in life and nowhere else in life that he could find a future worth living.

Premature surrender doesn't accomplish much. In fact, it leaves you in the same condition you started. Don't walk away and don't quit.

HOPE is that powerful mindset that believes God is not yet done with me. That evil and suffering does not have the final word. That God will bring to completion the good work he has started. That all things will work together for my good because of the deep, deep love of Jesus.

When I use my Zwift software program for indoor bike riding, riders will often encourage one another with the words RIDE ON. There is a destination, you have a goal, it is up there ahead, keep going, RIDE ON.

When it comes to God, WRESTLE ON.

SEVEN: Wrestle with love.

That sounds strange, doesn't it?

In college, my university had a nationwide championship team. I knew a number of them. They didn't all wrestle with love. Some of them wrestled with anger. Not only did they want to win, they wanted to win overwhelmingly, and if that meant hurting the opponent somewhat, no problem.

God wrestles in love. Not to defeat you, but to strengthen you, to change you, to save you, to redirect you, to give you a future.

You might start wrestling with God because you are ticked off at God. Anger rarely makes for good wrestling. It makes you careless.

Wrestle hard but wrestle knowing your opponent loves you. And if you wrestle in love, you will find you learn faster, get stronger more quickly, and the night turns to day. And you receive the blessing you truly needed.

Learning how to wrestle along with you,
Pastor Brian Rice