Saturday, February 17, 2007

God wrestler

I had a chance to speak with my 12 step sponsor over the phone this week-we usually get together on Wednesday, but the snow was so bad we weren't able to do that. One thing I like about talking to my friend is that she helps me slow down and reflect. When things are troubling me, we are able to lay out the issues side by side so they aren't flying around in my brain like a pinball, whacking into everything that hurts me and causes me to be unsettled. I need to learn to do this on my own.

So I'm really doing that right now. This week, starting even before Sunday, I was unsettled. Actually, it started with Friday, and it all boiled down to one thing-what do I have to commend myself as a Christian if things don't apparently work out in my life like they should? Do I have the right to tell other people you can find hope in Christ if I have serious issues in my life and family? I thought about that while Phyllis and I were in the prison on Saturday, listening to women desperately in need of hope. Then I heard the sermon on Sunday, which basically crushed my confidence into powder. All week long was this tug of war in my spirit and heart. One important friendship that I really thought was toast came roaring back to life on Tuesday with a beautiful card and very heart-felt letter in the mail from the person. I thought to myself, if I cannot be faithful through the best and the worst, I have no right at all to tell anyone God is good.

But He is, and He is faithful. And that is the nut. We as humans generally tend to have microwave expectations for everything. It all has to happen in a few pre-set minutes, life works out in 30 minute increments according to sitcoms and tv, everything falls into place according to self-help books and inspirational novels. It takes Thursday of this week my hope was being pumped back up again, and last night I went to Celebrate Recovery. That meeting basically turned out to be a meeting of the "old guard", people who are now serving in leadership all over the Valley, who have conquered addictions and bruising personal issues, or at least are on a firm road-the valiant warriors the scriptures talk about. One man said of himself regarding a struggle he was having, I was just a guy with a plumbing problem needing to get to work. Ordinary people-yet not!! These folks, varying in age from 20's to middle and beyond, have hung in there.

And that was the lesson I needed-do not give up. Never give in, never quit. If everything around me is a hurricane level disaster, if the most important person in my life walks away, if the message I need the most is one that crushes me-don't stay on the ground. God is there, all the time. My scripture reading for this morning was about Jacob, Isaac's son and Abraham's grandson. He was nicknamed "trickster". Jacob married into his uncle's family, and Laban (the uncle), stuck it to him over and over and over again. He tricked Jacob into marrying his older daughter, when Jake loved the younger. He changed his wages ten times. Whatever Jacob did in his former life, it was nothing to deserve this. And that wasn't the point. It all ended up with Jacob leaving his uncle's home with a huge family, vast wealth and the blessing of God. The climax of the story is Jacob wrestling with the Angel of God. Jacob told the angel, I'm not letting go of you until you bless me. The angel had to put his hip out of joint to be free, but after that happened Jacob's name was changed to Israel, the God-wrestler. The point is, he never gave up. Never stop loving, never stop trying, never quit. When the going gets tough, you are held up by the arms of those who love you back, and kept forever by the Everlasting ones, even if sometimes it's in a half-nelson.


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