Random and not so random musings from a 5th generation NE Missourian who became a 1st generation Episcopalian. Let the good times roll!

For some reason today, I was thinking about how Jacob wrestled with God in Genesis 32. Jacob wrestled all night with “a man” until his foe dislocated Jacob’s hip. The “man” turned out to be the face of God.

Of course for me, “wrestling” carries a slightly different perspective. Whether it is the present gaudy, slick TV wrestling entertainment of today, or the far campier and lower budget TV wrestling I used to watch as a child, another word pops up: Scripted.

I won’t use the word “fake” in this instance, because it negates the athleticism it takes to be in the wrestling entertainment world. But “scripted” is a great word for it.

When I was a kid, like most kids in NE Missouri, we were all hooked on “All Star Wrestling”, the TV show from the old Central States Wrestling circuit. It was great schmaltz. You had good guys like Handsome Harley Race, Omar Atlas, and Danny Littlebear. You had bad guys like Bulldog Bob Brown, The Interns, and Black Angus. You had stuff that would be terribly politically incorrect now, like Black Angus’ foppish manager Percival A. Friend (who would hit the opponents with his briefcase) and one of my favorites, Rufus R. Jones (a black wrestler whose trademark was a sledgehammer of a head butt…because in those days people didn’t think it was offensive to call attention to how hard a black man’s head allegedly was.)

No matter how much we enjoyed it or how much we rooted for our favorites, even as little kids we knew it was scripted. My dad, when he was laid off from laying brick in the winter, tended bar, and it happened to be the bar that all the wrestlers hung out in when they would come to put on matches in the Macon high school gym. I used to sneak in for their autographs. Mortal enemies were drinking beer together. It wasn’t rocket science to know these matches were already decided for the most part.

But back to my task at hand. When I think of Jacob and his wrestling match, I realize in a way, it too was “scripted.” You know from the onset that Jacob won’t possibly win. Jacob had to realize at least at the point he got his hip dislocated that this was a done deal. As the reader, you know God is going to eventually win even before that moment in the story.

Then the thought crossed my mind: Perhaps MY mental wrestling matches with God are scripted, too. God already knows He is going to win. I may return time and time again for the grudge match, the steel cage match or even a tag-team match, but in my heart at times I can feel God is going to win and I am “pinned”, then exhaustingly submit—but not until I’ve lived through a bunch of rounds in the ring first. The weird part is I don’t feel I’m “losing” when that happens. But I definitely feel myself “giving in”.

I have noticed when praying during times of turmoil, that in the beginning of my praying, I can feel that sense of “wrestling.” It is energy mixed with fight/flight/fright and confusion. It is only over time that I can feel my body and my mind “give” to the pressure of God’s will. It turns from this confusing sense of turmoil to a sense that my shoulder is chafing against the rough canvas and I am lying on my back, looking up, the weight of it all pressing upon me. When that happens, the energy alone is left—warm and radiant, and only then can I bring myself to accept that energy.

Now it would seem one of those “Duh” moments would be, “Why don’t I just accept this gift and go with it?” I think I have figured out why. The gift would make no sense if you don’t wrestle first.

To submit to it would simply be blind obedience, like a dog. To just accept from the get-go means you only get a tiny quick glimpse of the face of God. But the sheer act of wrestling prolongs the encounter. To wrestle with God means you can see Him from all sides, all angles, in many positions. You can feel His sweat soaking through you. If you resist, he presses harder. Jacob’s wrestling match not only got him a dislocated hip, it got him a blessing. He would not have gotten the blessing had he not bothered to wrestle.



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Kirksville, Missouri, United States
I'm a longtime area resident of that quirky and wonderful place called Kirksville, MO and am wondering what God has hiding round the next corner in my life.

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