Wrestling

photo by Fritz Bielmeier

photo by Fritz Bielmeier

The story of Jacob wrestling with God has always been a haunting favorite of mine. Ten short verses, a tiny story so short you’d miss it if you were skimming pages in the early morning before the coffee in your mug had time to work it’s magic. It is short, and yet it is a persistent story in my heart. 

Perhaps I can credit that to the strangeness of it, and it is strange. After the shock of the story wears off, though, there’s this part of me that feels the story in myself. It’s a story that troubles me, and I can trace the trouble to my own heart. I think that is why it is a story I so consistently visit, sitting in the middle of the page with the words, reading them slowly, letting my mind work its way around the idea. 

If I were to get really honest with you, I would tell you every shard of faith I have mustered in my life has been fought over, wrestled with like Jacob. I can trace the years of my walk with Christ by the different suspicions and uncertainties I mulled over in my heart. I am a doubter, and easy faith has never been my gift, though I pray for it earnestly and regularly. I long for faith like sight, for the simplicity of taking God’s word at face value because I trust his character. I ache for faith like that. And yet I still wrestle. 

I am a perfectionist, and it is the cruelest vice I can imagine because it plays itself off as virtue. And I, for so long, read this story as a wrestling match and a blessing won because Jacob refused to let go of God until he was blessed by him. I, for so long, figured that if I could just wrestle with doubt long enough and hard enough and consistently enough and perfectly enough, that God would have to bless me. I figured that after enough reading and praying and mulling, that I could cash in my hours and God would owe me perfect faith. 

And I think I missed the point, as I often do. 

He doesn’t submit to my wrestling, he initiates it in order to show himself greater, to gain more of my heart, to strengthen our relationship. Frederick Buechner writes “before giving us everything, he demands of us everything: before giving us life, he demands our lives - our selves, our wills, our treasure.” Hebrews 12:2 calls Jesus the “author and perfecter of our faith.” My faith is his to perfect, in his perfect ways and in his perfect timing and through his perfect love. 

-Morgan Jackson // @morgantea

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