Wrestling with God
Are you ever in a circumstance where you’re not sure where your life is going? Every time you try to do something, it seems to end up working against you? Why is that and what do you do about it?
As Christians, we are called to something higher than ourselves. Jesus told His disciples, “if anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it.” (Luke 9:23-24)
There has to be a period of dying to self in life. This is usually not pretty. It causes a lot of us to come to a place of wrestling. We may not see it as that at the time, but when we get to the other side, we can see the what the Father intended through the pain.
Oftentimes, I find that a lot of our twenties are like this. We’ve moved out of our parents’ homes, possibly gone to further education and started our own jobs. We’ve begun the path of adulthood. Now it’s up to us to decide what we believe, what we’re going to do with our lives, and the why behind it all.
I always wanted to be a nurse. I was a very determined little girl. All through my childhood and teen years, that was my undeterred goal. To move to London, Ontario, become a nurse, get married, and have two children by the age of twenty-seven. Hah! It’s so funny to think back on now.
It wasn’t so funny though when I discovered road block after road block in my pursuit of it. I didn’t understand. Why would I have such a strong passion and desire for the medical profession if that wasn’t what God wanted for me. This brought on a long season (almost a decade) of trying to figure this out.
Over time, I let it go. Then I tried vocational missions. Nope, that didn’t work either. Okay Lord, what do you want from me? Finally, I came to a place of surrender. I gave up the fight and told the Lord I would do whatever He had planned. He had to be very clear about what He wanted me to do, because I was frustrated trying to figure out His plan.
As I spent time with Him last week and read Luke 9:23-24, I realized I had died to my dream, surrendered, and found peace in Him. Then He answered my long-forgotten question.
He never intended for me to be a vocational nurse. He showed me that His intention was to make me a spiritual nurse. He created me with the characteristics of mercy, encouragement, and compassion since birth. One that could nurture and care for the hearts of those in need of Jesus. He is the Great Physician and I am His nurse. Just like how the disciples went from fishermen of fish to fishermen of men.
This makes me think of Jacob. Jacob was probably as stubborn a person as I am. He did things his way.
Jacob means supplanting. At his birth, Jacob had his brother Esau by the heel (Genesis 25:21-26). As he got older, he coerced his brother to giving up his birthright. Esau was extremely hungry and wanted food Jacob had made, so he carelessly accepted the trade (Genesis 25:29-34). Jacob also stole Esau’s first-born blessing by disguising himself to his blind father (Genesis 27:1-40).
Jacob went on to have a disastrous first couple decades or so of marriage. His father-in-law pretty much kept him hostage and made him work for him for his daughters.
As Jacob finally began the quest of moving his family back to his father’s land, God met him. He wrestled with him all night. As a good Father does, he made Jacob believe that he won the fight. Then Jacob asked the man he was wrestling with, presumably Jesus, for a blessing (Genesis 32:24-31).
It is at this point that his life changed. He received peace when he met with his brother, who beforehand made it his mission to kill Jacob. He had his name changed from Jacob to Israel, which sounds like “struggled with God”. He settled back into his father’s land, the promised land of the Israelites. He became the father of a nation with 12 sons/tribes.
Now, it’s not to say the suffering stopped there and everything was beautiful. The list of tragedies grew quite long for Israel. But he learned over time to trust the Lord. He witnessed the promises begin that the Lord had spoken to Abraham, Israel’s grandfather. Jacob, now Israel, would forever be known and honoured as the father of the great nation named after him. He was part of the lineage of Jesus Christ.
Great things can come from our times of wrestling. When we learn to surrender our desires to God, it gives Him opportunity to fulfill His desires for you. You are a citizen of heaven. Your one life on this earth has eternal value that is being applied to the Kingdom of God today. Living in the strength that God desires for you is powerful.
Though it may not feel like it all the time, what you do for Him matters. If you’re a garbage man picking up people’s trash every day, you’re taking care of God’s creation. If you’re in a call centre, you can be a voice of compassion and understanding. If you’re working in a daycare centre, you’re investing in the legacy and development of little children. If you’re a nurse, you’re helping to bring healing and life to others. Each role we play intertwines into a greater picture in the unseen. I hope you find peace and fulfillment in that thought today.