Have you ever been to a wrestling match? I used to go to them when I was in high school. The wrestlers would strive against one another on the floor until someone won- or someone gave up. I found myself in a similar situation this morning. As I was praying and seeking God for help, He spoke to me and said, “Stop fighting against me.” I knew immediately that He was right, I was fighting against Him, and I was striving with Him about some very specific areas in my life. He is asking me to let go, and I am holding onto them for dear life. He reminded me of the story of Jacob, as he too wrestled with God.
“And he arose that night and took his two wives, his two female servants, and his eleven sons, and crossed over the ford of Jabbok. He took them, sent them over the brook, and sent over what he had. Then Jacob was left alone, and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day.” Genesis 32:22-24
As I read these passages, the Lord God showed me how I have let so many things go in my life. I have handed over many areas of my life into His keeping, and sent my “baggage” across the river to Him, but I am still standing on the bank of the river, not willing to cross over just yet. Instead of letting go of my own self, I stand on the river bank, and I wrestle with Him about it. “I am not ready to go,” I tell Him. His response to me is “Trust me, take my hand and we will cross together.” We had a whole conversation this morning about how I am scared to let go completely, for fear of what will happen on the way across. Then the Lord gave me a visual this morning of what the crossing will look like if I just take a step of faith and trust Him.
He showed me a raging river, rushing and crashing all around me. But in the midst of all this water, there are smooth rocks to walk upon. Some are close together and some are far apart. We are standing on the rocks, He has his hands out, and I am to take them. He is facing me, talking to me all the way. He tells me to step on this rock, or jump to this rock. He then speaks to me and says, “I am holding your hands, guiding you and showing you what step to take today. I have you, I will not let you fall, trust Me. Whatever happens, I will not let you go. Trust me.”
I don’t know if I will make it across the river or not, but I do know that if I continue to stay on the riverbank and strive with God, the blessing that awaits me on the other side of the river…….well, I will never know what it is if I do not attempt to cross it. Jacob sent ahead everything, and stayed by himself on the riverbank. He was scared of what was on the other side of the river. Jacob did not know what to do, and the fear overtook him. God wanted Jacob to trust him, to take His hands and cross that river because God had prepared something for Jacob, but Jacob chose to stay on the river bank and wrestle with God.
When I thought about the word “wrestle” I saw a picture of me, struggling with God, although God wasn’t the one struggling, I was. Remember when you were a kid and your dad would wrestle with you- you never really won, he was always in control of the situation. You were the one struggling, he was the one giggling and letting us think we were getting somewhere. The Lord does the same for us when we struggle and wrestle against Him. Wrestle in the Old Testament means to “kick up the dust”. And that is exactly what happens when we wrestle with God. We just kick up dust, which gets in our eyes and we cannot see. It is not until I give up the fight that the dust settles and I can see Him clearly, standing before me, with His face smiling and His hands outstretched, ready to cross the river with me.
Jacob did lose the wrestling match with God, just as we will too. But God, who is gracious and merciful, will strive with us for as long as it takes. Before the breaking of the day, He will win. He will touch the area of your life that is not ready to give in yet, and He will break it, He will cause us to limp and to lean upon Him. The commentary in my study bible says that “the ultimate power is confirmed as lying in God’s hands, not in Jacob’s strength or cunning.” No matter how hard I try, no matter what I say or do, ultimately the power is in the hands of God whom I am striving against. And I will not win.
I think I will take the outstretched hands of my Lord and my God this morning, and see what lies ahead on the other side of the river. Not worrying or fretting about the raging river that is all around me, but keeping my eyes upon Jesus who says to me, “I have you, I am holding your hands, and I will not let you go. Trust Me.” Amen and Amen.