My testimony of fighting with God and learning God fought with me.
|Fighting has never come easy for me. I have learned the art of falling and getting back up again. At a little over 6 foot people tended to leave me alone. Yet I have known many who saw me as a big enough target to make a name for themselves. The only thing I know to do is try to get up and try again.
One of my favorite Bible stories is Jacob wrestling with an angel. Jacob was a heel grabber literally. He found ways to trick is older brother Esau out of a blessing and lived to tell the tale. I think what made Jacob a good fighter was that he was not afraid to lose. He did his best to learn from his battles. Laban tried to find ways to win against Jacob. He gave him Leah instead of Rachel and over the course of the relationship had more children with Leah who was not his first choice. Laban also tried to take advantage of Jacob with livestock. God showed Jacob that there was a way to win. Then he meets his brother Esau who could have very easily wanted him dead.
It is in the midst of meeting with his brother Esau we discover what makes him strong. Jacob gets into a wrestling match with an angel who is sent of God. Jacob is crippled and must go through life limping and yet the lesson to be learned is that Jacob is to become Israel, which means someone who wrestles and fights with God. Even if Jacob has our attention as a sly trickster Israel is the name that survives today and for all generations and gives us a way to model our own journey as fighting with God to show forth love and compassion even if it means that I may get crippled in the process.
I think Jesus embodied this as the Word made flesh. He fought with the devil in the wilderness and we see is sweat drops of blood at Gethsemane, ultimately dying on a cross to show us how God fights with us as much as we learned in the Jacob story how man learns to fight with God.
This has been my own prayer thru my own life. I know I am vulnerable. I can be beaten and yet I also know that in the end God has the last word. There are many times I have been close to death and God found a way to lift me up. I recall a vision after I had gone through depression for several months. I was defeated. I recall talking to my Uncle Irving that let me enter the fight. He let me know I was not alone and need never get myself in that position. He could have told me how strong he was, instead he entered into my woundedness and let me know there was a way out. He gave credit to his wife Lydia for getting him out his funk. His learning was that it was not up to him to save the world. God doesn't mean for any of us to be alone. Even Jesus talked about sending the Holy Spirit after he was gone to breathe life back into us after he was dead. The last words of my uncle were not that I needed to snap out of it and he in no way made me feel inferior, even though I felt that way. His last words were hang on for the ride. Another words I would get thru this and in a subtle way saying we would get thru this. The reason was that I was not alone.
Things did not get better immediatel. As a matter of fact my family was giving up on me. They were frustrated. Then around Easter of that same year, God gave me a vision of Christ dying on the cross and the essence of that message was that God understood all my grief and bitterness and that I was broken and the last part of the vision was being reminded about the resurrection and just like that the impenetrable fog lifted. It has lasted for months. I could easily of given up. I was studying for ministry at the time of my depression people were wondering if I was even saved. A few years I had given a message that I wrote. I knew it to be from God. People saw potential in me being a minister and yet the message I received from God was that I might let others down and yet as I did God's will, God would never give up on me. I was not alone and never will be. I fight the good fight. I hang on for the ride. Others may question me and yet God is with me always trying to show me a better way. God will never tempt me beyond what I am able.
I have needed to remember this as I went thru a painful divorce, when I heard words from my denomination that I was not called to preach, but instead plant corn, whatever that meant. And then as moved into the arena of caregiving, God showed me over and over he was there for me and would never give up on me. And now I am in Erie with a wife who has dementia. I at this very moment fight shingles and God keeps finding ways to say I am not alone. There is always someone there to support me. I am not alone. The words of Uncle Irving "hang on for the ride" and the excitement Irving had in his voice let me know I would not be disappointed. I could sense my Uncle was even excited for me. My best days were ahead. And it is so true God is fighting with and for me as much as I too slowly at times learn like Jacob how to fight with God. Hang in for the ride is the message that God sent thru my Uncle, so I guess the best I can do is graciously and lovingly offer them back to others who feel like the end is near. The best is yet to come..