I would like to thank my friend Richard Teasdale for giving me a chance to write this guest blog for the 15 Habits of Great Writers. This post fulfills: Day 4 – Practice, as I practice the craft of writing in public. My usual blog is The Bountiful Reaper.
Wrestling With God – When Intimacy Gets Personal!
We all go through seasons in the Christian life where we experience different things.
There are times when intimacy with God is easy, our life and faith are amazing, and we just don’t seem to need to work at it as everything just happens. There are other times when no matter what we do we just don’t seem to hear anything from God, it seems like we are in a desert and reading the Bible (and the rest of Christian life for that matter) is just about as exciting as chewing sand or watching paint dry!
There is a third season, where we are striving to move on, but we seem to have hit a roadblock. This is where Jacob was when he wrestled with God at the ford of the Jabbok river. Before I go any further and share my own personal experience, let’s see what scripture says:
‘The same night he got up and took his two wives, his two maids, and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. He took them and sent them across the stream, and likewise everything he had. Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he struck him on the hip socket; and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. Then he said, ‘Let me go, for the day is breaking.’ But Jacob said, ‘I will not let you go, unless you bless me.’ So he said to him, ‘What is your name?’ And he said, ‘Jacob.’ Then the man said, ‘You shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with humans, and have prevailed.’ Then Jacob asked him, ‘Please tell me your name.’ But he said, ‘Why is it that you ask my name?’ And there he blessed him. So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, ‘For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life is preserved.’ The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip. Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the thigh muscle that is on the hip socket, because he struck Jacob on the hip socket at the thigh muscle.’ Genesis 32:22-32 (NRSV).
Firstly, God will get you alone with him.
If you still keep the trapping of life, and those things you are rightly responsible for, close to you they will just get in the way of moving to deeper intimacy with God. For Jacob it meant one night wrestling alone with God. For me it meant many nights alone in prayer for an hour or so, after the rest of the household had gone to bed. If you avoid solitude with God in this season, then you will get no further.
Secondly, you need to be persistent – no matter what it takes.
Until now Jacob had got things by his wit and his guile, he had truly lived up to his name which means ‘he deceives’, but this is when things changed. He couldn’t get the better of God by cheating, all he could do was to hang on and wrestle.
Now wrestling over the years has had fair rules and foul, and often with the only rule being that anything goes. I guess that this was how Jacob was wrestling with the angel of God, this was no holds barred, and all he had to do was to hang on. Actually, it sounds like Jacob was a good wrestler, because God only got the better of him by weakening him.
Jacob was persistent, even after he had been weakened he still hung on. Why? Because he recognised that he was wrestling with someone greater than himself, in fact with God alone. He hung on in the fight, then he hung on for a blessing. This says a lot to us, there are times when we hang on through a fight, but don’t keep hanging on for the blessing. We need to be like Jacob and do both.
In my own personal journey, I think that I have hung on, and persisted past being weakened by God and on into the blessing, as God is now beginning to fulfil things in my life that were promised many years ago.
Thirdly, God will mark you for life!
This is the one that hurts, when you fight with God. This is where it gets really personal, and really uncomfortable.
When Jacob’s hip-joint was touched by God, it wasn’t just a short-term thing. That injury was never corrected or healed, Jacob limped for the rest of his life because of that encounter with God.
I think that there are three reasons for this:
- It was a reminder of the futility of his own strength.
- It was a reminder of the fragility of his humanity.
- It was a reminder that God is all he needed.
Encounters like this one are as life changing for us today as, as the Jabbok was for Jacob. God leaves a mark on those he touches like this, on those who choose the adventure of this level of intimacy with him. And, like Jacob, those marks are permanent, there for all to see. They may be external, physical marks, or they may be marks of the spirit or soul, but they will always be there. It is the only way that we do not forget, something external we may forget, but a reminder we carry with us always we cannot forget!
For me the thing God put his finger on related to when I was unwell with ME and various neurological problems for about 6½ years. I knew God could heal me, but in my heart I was afraid that he would not. I doubted his goodness and power, even though I theoretically knew them – I did not know them experientially even though I had seen God move in my life and the lives of others in the past.
God did heal me, although over about 1½ years slowly when I held onto a word I had been given. Could he have healed me sooner? I don’t know, God alone knows. I now do not limit God in any way, personally as well as for others and I look forward to seeing what he is going to do in and through me in the future!
When Intimacy Gets Personal!
Wrestling with God in this way is personal. No longer can you come to God with the right words and phrases, they no longer mean anything. There is a cost, and that cost is to yourself. But what you gain far outweighs what it costs. Yes, it gets personal, but isn’t that what our walk with God should be about anyway? It is a walk, a relationship. So let’s stop running like Jacob and face God head on. You know what – it’ll be worth it!
Lord Jesus, help me to seek a greater level of intimacy with you whatever the cost. You paid the price for me to come to know you, so whatever price I pay to know you more is nothing in comparison. In your name, Amen.