“…a man wrestled with him till daybreak.” (Genesis 32: 24)
I can smile now, Friend, but I assure you that nothing at all was amusing at the time. I thought I knew God. Isn’t that such an arrogantly human thing to say? It’s true, though. I thought I knew Him. But I found more about who He really is on the other side of a fight He picked with me!
Has God ever shown up to do battle with you? Yes, we all take comfort in and swell our chests at the thought of God fighting for us, but have you ever found yourself all alone with no one and nothing to come to your defense in a battle with the one and only God? Has God ever given you that look from across the classroom before looking over at the clock, letting you know that as soon as the bell rings, there is no running anymore, no more hiding, you are going to come to blows? Has God ever laughed in your face as you threw down your books and steeled your jaw? Has God looked at the line you drew in the sand, the one you dared Him to cross, and boldly and definitively stepped across it, knocking hot fire from you in the process?
Yes, Friend, that God showed up, not the one I like to think about giving me mercy after mercy, not the one I like to remember calms the storm. Nah, not Him. I’m talking about the Old Testament God, the one we like to pretend no longer exists now that Jesus died on the cross. I’m talking about the God that Paul says we have no excuse to ignore, “For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead” (Romans 1: 20, KJV).
You see, I had been pushing the envelope. I didn’t realize it at the time, of course, for I was praying more and studying the Bible more, but I was taking advantage in small little doses of God’s grace. I had been relying on my own design and thinking and planning. I had been erecting my own idol bit by bit under a cover that was so dark, I didn’t even realize what I was doing. But God saw me, Friend, and everything I was doing. I never saw Him or the fight coming until I was there in it.
“For the time is come that judgement must begin at the house of God…” (1 Peter 4: 17)
Today, I can honestly say that I love that God wrestled me. I pray that He wrestles me each and every time I get too big for my britches. I would rather He defeat me on this side of the grave than for eternity. I don’t want to be that rich man begging from hell, “…send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue” (Luke 16: 24, NIV) or pleading for loved ones on the same destructive path: “Let [Lazarus] warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment” (Luke 16: 28, NIV). Wrestle me, God, please!
“It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.” (Psalm 119: 71, NIV)