Lent Photo-A-Day (February 10 – March 27, 2016)

Day 15 — Wrestle

wrestling with God

I had to put the picture first just for the shock value! That is exactly how I feel when I’m wrestling with God. (I’m the little guy, btw.)

Probably the most famous wrestling story I know comes from the Bible. It’s about Jacob and Esau, twin brothers who were BORN locked into a sibling rivalry. Their story can be found in Genesis 25-33 (or you can watch The Red Tent with Minnie Driver and an all-star cast — it blew me away). Suffice it to say the bottom fell out of their lives and Jacob had to get out of Dodge to save his keister.

Then years later God sent Jacob back to their home to make peace with Esau. To say Jacob was a bit scared of this confrontation would be putting it mildly. In fact, the night before the big meet-up Jacob had a set to with an angel. He was determined to have God bless this family reunion, so to speak. They wrestled all night and the angel couldn’t overcome Jacob. Finally the angel touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so it was wrenched out of joint figuring Jacob would have to let him go then. But Jacob held on. He insisted he wouldn’t let go until God had given him (and essentially his tribe) a blessing. (Jacob was good at winkling blessings out of folks — just sayin’. You’ll have to read the story to figure that out.)

And God not only blessed Jacob, he gave him a new name, Israel, AND left Jacob with a souvenir from the wrestling match — a limp. My friend Plato (the younger!) from Plato’s Groove and I were talking about it yesterday. Plato said:

Jacob wrestled with God because he wanted to be blessed. He wrestled because he thought he was not. He tried all his life to hide his feelings of being second rate. He wrestled but it was as much with himself as anything.  It was only when he learned to limp that he became Israel, (which means) …blessed of God. He had always been wounded. He could have stopped wrestling with God and man years before if he could have accepted that he was blessed from the start. Wounded and blessed at once.  He thought he needed to be different or better or smarter or stronger or or or……. he only needed to limp.

I’ve BEEN in that place where Jacob was. I’ve wrestled with God through the Epistle of James (sort of the etiquette book for believers) a couple times a dozen times so many times I’ve lost count.


If it were a better picture you could probably tell from the different kinds of ink, pencils, and markers that I keep forgetting what I’ve read and have to underline stuff again and again. One verse in particular is an old friend and so marked up you can barely read it! “Anyone who says he is a Christian but doesn’t control his sharp tongue is just fooling himself, and his religion isn’t worth much.” (James 1:26, TLB) Sooo caught! But try as hard as I can, I am far too wounded to ever get it right.

Is it any wonder, then, my faith became a burden after years of not measuring up? And sometimes even felt like a prison? Why in the bloomin’ world is it so hard to “Let go and let God,” as the saying goes… Especially when the plain fact is, as Plato so simply pointed out, all I had to do was realize I would always have a limp. And that was ok because God loves me and blesses me everyday anyway…

It often takes an experience of crippling weakness for us to finally discover it (the blessing). That is why so many of the most God-blessed people limp as they dance for joy. (Timothy Keller)


Picture Credits: 

Wrestlers —
Bible — yours truly’s